Stone-Camryn School of Ballet records
Scope and Content of the Collection
Records include materials such as dance production files, printed music, correspondence, programs, brochures, newsletters, clippings, photographs, personal writings, scrapbooks, and audiovisual materials.
The records reflect the personal and professional lives of Stone and Camryn in addition to records about the Stone-Camryn School of Ballet. The collection also includes notes and published materials by Camryn on dance teaching and techniques. As Camryn was the more prolific writer of the two, the majority of works in the collection are his. Camryn also seemed to keep more souvenirs and documentation, which is reflected in his many journals, clippings, scrapbooks, and collections of autographed photos of both dancers and film stars. The audiovisual materials include recordings of music for Stone-Camryn School performances and commercial recordings assumed to be used while teaching class.
- Creation: 1865-1988
- Creation: Majority of material found within 1910 - 1988
- Stone-Camryn School of Ballet (Organization)
Materials are in English.
Conditions Governing Access
The Stone-Camryn School of Ballet records are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).
Ownership and Literary Rights
The Stone-Camryn School of Ballet records are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.
History of the Stone-Camryn School of Ballet
Chicago ballet and dance school, founded in 1941 by dancer-choreographers Bentley Stone and Walter Camryn.
Bentley Stone was born August 31, 1907 in Plankinton, South Dakota, and began studying ballet at the age of 15 with G.M. Casket in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Two years later he moved to New York City to study with Margaret Severn and Luigi Albertieri. Stone began his career dancing in musicals, and in 1931 he joined the Chicago Civic Opera Ballet, where he worked in many capacities from soloist to choreographer. He became Premier Danseur of the company in 1933 under the direction of Laurent Novikoff, and continued his role through 1937 under Ruth Page’s tenure. Page and Stone directed the Federal Theater Ballet together in 1938, and later that year formed the Page-Stone Ballet Company, which continued through 1950. It was the first American ballet company to tour South America.
Walter Camryn was born July 30 or 31, 1901 in Helena, Montana (according to his death certificate). He was 24 and managing a retail flower shop in Boise, Idaho, when he left for Chicago to study ballet at the Adolph Bolm School. After a year and a half of training and teaching children’s classes, he won an opening in the Chicago Civic Opera Ballet. He continued dancing there through 1938, and also appeared as a soloist in the Page-Stone Ballet during this time. In 1939 he directed the Federal Theater Ballet with Eloise Moore. He then became Chairman of the Chicago Dance Council from 1942-1943, participating in one of the first attempts to form a ballet based in Chicago. He also served as artistic director for the Chicago Children’s Civic Theater during the summers of 1941-1948. Camryn became well known for his Character work, especially in the American Idiom.
Stone and Camryn opened the Stone-Camryn School of Ballet together in 1941. The school was originally located in the Grand Theatre Building on Clark Street, but moved to 185 West Madison in the fall of 1950 due to the need for more space. It became a not for profit corporation in 1953. The school had a reputation for accepting students based on talent rather than ability to pay, and offered low tuition rates and scholarships. Enrollment generally included students from Chicago and its surrounding suburbs, but summer programs attracted students from all across the country. The school offered courses in classical ballet, character dance, yoga, and modern dance. It also hosted guest artists including Mia Slavenska, Mary Skeaping, and Inga Weiss.
As teachers, Stone and Camryn practiced traditional methods while acknowledging more modern approaches to dance. The school aimed to prepare students for work in contemporary ballet companies, and found great success in this goal. Alumni have gone on to work at many prestigious companies, including: in New York, the American Ballet Theatre, Alvin Ailey Dance Company, Alwin Nicolai Dance Theatre, Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, First Chamber Dance Company, Jose Limon Dance Company, Martha Graham Dance Company, Metropolitan Opera Company and New York City Ballet; in Chicago, the Lyric Opera Company, Page-Stone Ballet, and Ruth Page International Ballet; elsewhere in the United States, the National Ballet of Washington, Milwaukee Ballet Company, Houston Ballet, and San Francisco Ballet; and internationally, the Winnipeg Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, Netherlands Dans Theatre, Frankfurt Ballet Company, Hamburg Opera Ballet, and Stuttgart Ballet Company. Stone-Camryn School of Ballet alumni have also gone on to careers as actors and actresses, choreographers, and teachers, with some opening their own studios.
Both Stone and Camryn maintained active teaching and performance schedules outside their work with the school. Camryn additionally gave lectures and master classes around the country. The school eventually closed in 1981 due to Stone and Camryn’s declining health, after a final “Tribute” performance. Both men passed away in 1984.
27.7 Linear Feet (51 boxes, 3 oversize boxes, 2 oversize transcription discs, 1 oversize folder, and 1 bust)
Chicago's Stone-Camryn School of Ballet was founded in 1941 by established dancers Walter Camryn and Bentley Stone. It became one of the most successful American ballet schools in placing its graduates in professional companies, and in creating new generations of dance teachers. Archives include personal and biographical material from Stone and Camryn, school records, scrapbooks, diaries, photographs, programs, clippings, and choreographic notes.
Papers are organized in the following series
- Series 1: Administrative-Financial, 1944-1985
- Boxes 1-9
- Series 2: Biographical, undated, 1910s-1988
- Boxes 10-17
- Series 3: Correspondence, undated, 1865-1984, bulk 1932-1984
- Boxes 18-23
- Series 4: Dance Productions
- Boxes 23-26
- Series 5: Publicity, undated, 1921-1982
- Boxes 27-28
- Series 6: Works, undated, 1928-1985
- Boxes 29-34
- Series 7: Photographs, undated, 1922-1984
- Boxes 35-46
- Series 8: Audiovisual, undated, 1939-1984
- Boxes 47-50
- Series 9: Artifacts
- Box 51 and Artifact Cage
- Series 10: Oversize, undated, ca. 1920s-1978
- Boxes 52-54
Collection Stack Location
3a 48 13-14, Artifact Cage
Gift, Bentley Stone and Walter Camryn, 1982, with subsequent additions from others.
Kathryn Antonelli, 2017.
Genre / Form
- Clippings (information artifacts)
- Moving images
- Scores (documents for music)
- Sound recordings
- Inventory of the Stone-Camryn School of Ballet records, 1865-1988, bulk 1910-1988
- Kathryn Antonelli
- Language of description
- Script of description