Ruth Ann Koesun was a principal dancer with Ballet Theatre (later American Ballet Theatre) for more than twenty years, during which time she was featured in eleven different Pillow engagements spread over three seasons. Born in Chicago’s Chinatown to a Chinese-American father and a mother of Russian descent, Koesun began her dance studies in Chicago and joined Ballet Theatre at age eighteen in 1946. For the Pillow’s 1947 season, she was part of a resident company known as Ballet Repertory, performing on four separate programs as well as appearing with Ballet Theatre in Jerome Robbins’s Interplay
. In 1949, she returned with Ballet Theatre for four more Pillow programs, one of which included her signature role in Billy the Kid
with John Kriza. Kriza and Koesun were so identified with these roles that they performed them at the White House for President Kennedy in 1962, the year after her final Pillow appearance. After her retirement from ABT in 1969, she returned to Chicago where she co-directed the dance department at Hull House and served as director of the Association for Illinois Dance Companies. She remained active as an archivist for the Newberry Library up until her death in February 2018 at age 89.
Source of Biography
Written by Norton Owen for Jacob's Pillow Remembers.