Slaughter on Tenth Avenue is a ballet with music by Richard Rodgers and choreography by George Balanchine. It occurs near the end of Rodgers and Hart's 1936 Broadway musical comedy On Your Toes. Slaughter is the story of a hoofer who falls in love with a dance hall girl who is then shot and killed by her jealous boyfriend. The hoofer then shoots the boyfriend.
The ballet is integrated into the plot of the musical by the device of having two gangsters watching it from box seats in the theatre in which it is staged. They have orders to shoot the leading dancer (played by Ray Bolger in the original production). The dancer, who has been warned just in time, evades them by suddenly dancing at full speed even after the ballet actually ends, and finally two police officers enter and arrest the gangsters.
Slaughter on Tenth Avenue was danced by Ray Bolger and Tamara Geva in the original stage production of On Your Toes, and by Eddie Albert and Vera Zorina in the film version. In Words and Music, the 1948 Technicolor film biography of Rodgers and Hart, the ballet was danced by Gene Kelly and Vera-Ellen, with a somewhat revised, more tragic storyline, and new choreography by Kelly (in Kelly's version, the boyfriend, in addition to killing the dance hall girl, also kills the hoofer).
The first television performance of "Slaughter" was on NBC-TV's Garroway at Large program in 1950 or 1951, with the NBC Chicago studio orchestra under the direction of Joseph Gallichio.
Slaughter on Tenth Avenue entered the repertoire of the New York City Ballet in 1968, first danced by Suzanne Farrell and Arthur Mitchell.
Lew Stone conducted the BBC Dance Orchestra in a 1936 BBC broadcast performance of Rodgers' score which was the work's radio premiere.
Jimmy Smith the great jazz organist performed an Oliver Nelson arrangement on the album "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf"
Jazz singer Anita O'Day performed a vocal (scat) version on her Verve album Incomparable.
One of The Ventures' greatest hits was their instrumental version of "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue", based on the score of the ballet; it was released in 1964.
The British instrumental pop group The Shadows released their version in November 1969 (b/w "Midnight Cowboy" (John Barry) Columbia DB8628).
Electronic Realizations For Rock Orchestra, the 1975 album by synthesizer pioneer Larry Fast under the project name of Synergy, featured the ballet.
James Last recorded the ballet on his 1975 album Well Kept Secret, featuring Larry Carlton on lead guitar.
Mick Ronson chose the ballet as title track to his debut solo recording Slaughter on 10th Avenue. Ronson was lead guitarist of David Bowie's legendary band, "The Spiders From Mars" and knew and liked the music from his childhood piano training. He continued to play the song the rest of his career.
Don Walker's arrangement was performed by the John Wilson Orchestra as part of the The 2012 BBC Proms
Organist Michael Stairs has been known to play Slaughter on Tenth Avenue on the Wanamaker Organ.
Slaughter on Tenth Avenue is also the title of a 1957 film starring Richard Egan, Jan Sterling and Dan Duryea. The story had nothing to do with the ballet, but Richard Rodgers's music for it was featured in the film.