Rochelle Zide-Booth has retired after a long career in ballet. She trained in Boston with Harriet Hoctor and E. Virginia Williams and then joined the fabled Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, signing her first contract on her 16th birthday and quickly rising to the rank of Soloist. After breaking her leg in a rehearsal on tour and dancing on it for two weeks, she left the company. Then came a New York season with Jerome Robbins’ Ballets: USA and four years as Principal Dancer of The Joffrey Ballet, where she danced ballerina roles in most of the repertoire, including Lisette in La Fille Mal Gardée, the title role in Thomas Andrew’s Clarissa, and the leading role in Dirk Sanders’ Yesterday’s Papers, (both of which were choreographed for her), the pas de deux from Bournonville’s Flower Festival in Genzano and from Act 1 of Giselle, and the leads in Balanchine’s Pas de Dix and Square Dance. Another accident, resulting in detached retinas, made her decide to leave that company. Freelance work with a partner and symphony orchestras throughout the United States and as ballerina of America Dances as well as Prima Ballerina of the New York City Opera Ballet followed. A new company was being formed for her by Walter Terry and Thomas Andrew when a third accident cut short her performing career at age 27.
The next phase of her career began immediately: Ballet Mistress of The Joffrey and Boston Ballets, starting the Dance Program at St. Paul’s School in Concord NH, Artistic Director of Netherlands Dance Theatre, Professor of Ballet at Adelphi University, Head of Ballet at The Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, teaching and staging residencies in South Korea, Israel and the Philippines, teaching on the faculty of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center and Professor of Ballet, Men’s Ballet and Dance History at Butler University. As a Fulbright lecturer, Zide-Booth was the first American invited to be Artist in Residence at the Prague Conservatory of Dance and the Ballet of the National Theatre in the Czech Republic. While there, she also taught master classes at the Academy of Musical Arts in Prague, the Brno Ballet, the Brno Dance Conservatory, the Army Ballet Company, and she helped to start an American-style conservatory of dance. She also staged one of her ballets for the Prague National Ballet. Next, she was selected from an international search to be Artistic Director of the New Zealand School of Dance. Rochelle is a nine time adjudicator for NARB (now RDA), including the first National Festival at the Jackson International Ballet Competition, and has choreographed some two dozen ballets. Dance Chronicle published some of the diaries from her Joffrey years in 1988, and she is listed in 2,000 Notable American Women, Who’s Who of American Women, Who’s Who in Entertainment, The International Who’s Who of Professional and Business Women, Personalities of America, and Who’s Who in the East. Rochelle is now Professor Emerita of both Butler and Adelphi Universities, and still does occasional teaching and choreographic residencies.