Americans have been drawn into countless murder trials long before Hollywood made its claim to fame. Perhaps one of the most publicized trials was that of Lizzie Borden, a 32-year-old woman convicted of brutally murdering her parents, a trial so notorious that it inspired a ballet.
At 3:30 p.m. today in the Hall of Christ, Jim Dakin will speak about that ballet in a lecture titled “Fall River Legend, The Brutal Tale of Lizzie Borden.” This will be the Chautauqua Dance Circle’s final lecture of the season.
On Aug. 4, 1892, Borden’s father and stepmother were both killed in their home in Fall River, Mass. In what Dakin described as a “sensational trial,” Borden was accused of the murder. The trial drew national attention, Dakin said, and it could very aptly be dubbed the O.J. Simpson trial of its day.
A poem was written about Borden and the murder, supposedly to help sell newspapers following the trial, Dakin said. He assumes most people know the poem, but they may not be aware that its facts are inaccurate.
The ballet, Fall River Legend, was choreographed in 1948 by Agnes George de Mille, an American dancer and choreographer. De Mille is the choreographer of many well-known works, including the musical Oklahoma! The narrative ballet was based on the life of Lizzie Borden and featured an original score by Morton Gould.
“It’s almost like a play without words,” Dakin said of the ballet. “The poem and this ballet are all part of the legend.”
Dakin will show the 1989 film of Fall River Legend performed by the Dance Theatre of Harlem. The ballet, which is based on legend rather than fact, features scenes such as “Reading the Verdict” and “The Deed is Done.”
With so many rumors surrounding the Borden trial, Dakin will reveal the facts and fiction behind the case, including what happened to Lizzie herself.