Jeni LeGon, a tap dancing legend who performed with Bill Robinson and Fats Waller, died Friday at age 96 in Vancouver, Canada, according to the Vancouver Sun.
The American Tap Dance Foundation says LeGon was one of the first African American women to develop a career as a tap soloist—and she wore pants when all the other female dancers were sporting skirts.
LeGon was born in Chicago and landed her first job in musical theater at age 13, the start of a career that brought her to Los Angeles, London, and New York.
She played several leading roles in films, toured with the U.S. Army, and performed in clubs and theaters internationally. People magazine in 2005 described LeGon as a pioneer of Black Hollywood, who “battled frank racism, stereotype-constrained casting, and on-set segregation to achieve memorable art and pave the way to put us where we are today.” She also told the magazine that Fred Astaire, with whom she had danced a decade before, snubbed her in 1947 after she was cast as a maid in Easter Parade.
“He never spoke to me, never acknowledged me,” LeGon told the magazine. “He knew I was the same person, I’m sure of that. I was really hurt. It’s inside and I can’t get rid of it. Hollywood was a black-and-white world.”
To see a clip of LeGon’s performance from the 1939 movie Double Deal, visit http://www.vancouversun.com/entertainment/dancing+diva+Jeni+LeGon+dies+Vancouver/7676015/story.html.
Marvin Hamlisch, who died Monday in Los Angeles at 68, was one of the most honored composers in the theater world, and one of the hardest working, reported the LA Times.
From his songs for A Chorus Line, which opened in 1975 and ran on Broadway for close to 15 years, to his most recent score for The Nutty Professor,which debuted in Nashville in July, Hamlisch never seemed to put his pen down. He moved with impressive alacrity between composing jobs and conducting appearances with pops orchestras around the country.
Carole Bayer Sager worked with Hamlisch on several projects, including the musical They’re Playing Our Song. “His mind went a thousand and fifty miles an hour and so did his fingers,” she said in an interview Tuesday. “He could transpose music in one second. And he could pick up a melody he’d never heard if you just sang it for him.”
Kay Cole, who was in the original cast of A Chorus Line, said in an interview that Hamlisch “could make the toughest environments enjoyable. He always had a joke and he could see the bright side of life.”
She recalled that when she rehearsed the song “At the Ballet” from A Chorus Line, Hamlisch kept asking her to sing her part higher and higher. “I enjoyed hitting those high notes. I think because he had such brilliance at a young age, he was able to make everyone feel very comfortable,” she said.
Hamlisch won a Tony Award for his work on A Chorus Line and shared the Pulitzer Prize for drama. Hamlisch’s other Broadway scores include Sweet Smell of Success, Smile, and The Goodbye Girl.
To read the full story, visit http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/culture/la-et-cm-marvin-hamlisch-68-chorus-line-20120807,0,5979285.story.
Richard Cragun, one of the most important dancers of the 20th century, has died at 67, according to Gramilano.com.
His legendary partnership with Marcia Haydée, the groundbreaking work at Stuttgart Ballet with John Cranko, and his beauty and virile strength as a dancer, will earn him a permanent place in dance history.
On August 6 he suffered a seizure triggered by a lung infection, and died in Rio de Janiero soon after being admitted to the hospital.
Born in California in 1944, Cragun studied tap and ballet but also attended the Banff School of Fine Arts in Canada, and he continued to draw all his life. Cragun went to the Royal Ballet School in London and completed his studies in Copenhagen where he spent a year as a private pupil of Vera Volkova.
In 1962 he made the most important decision of his career and joined Stuttgart Ballet, and in 1965 was promoted to principal dancer. It was here that his 36-year partnership with Marcia Haydée started, although he also partnered Margo Fonteyn and most other leading ballerinas of the day. Cragun was a handsome man on-stage and off, and when he created “Petrucchio” for Cranko in 1969 in Taming of the Shrew, the role fit him like a glove.
Cragun had been ill for some time after having a stroke in 2005 and suffered complications with the drug cocktail that allowed him to live with AIDS. He was working until a short time before his death, mounting the ballet Taming of the Shrew.
To see the original story, visit http://gramilano.com/2012/08/the-ballet-world-loses-a-prince-richard-cragun-dies-at-67/#.UCEemqMaGas.
Marjorie Holzschuher Sellers, who operated the Marjorie Holzschuher Sellers Dance Studio on Seventh Street in Zanesville, Ohio, for 79 years, died Tuesday at the Helen Purcell Home, according to the Zanesville Times Recorder.She was 95.
“Zanesville is losing a legend who touched thousands of lives,” Butch Theisen, her assistant for 36 years, said. “She taught everyone. Her studio will be celebrating 80 years next May, and we plan to make it a beautiful celebration in her memory. I will carry on her lifelong dream, which is what I’m doing now.”
Sellers got her start in the business at an early age. While she had been taking dance lessons with Georgia McClure McLaughlin for several years, she stepped into the role of teacher at 15 years old when McLaughlin died. She then traveled to New York City at 16 to become more versed in dance and teaching, never looking back.
While a car crash about three years ago slowed her down, dancing still was in Sellers’ blood. She always was pleased to see dancers visit her and fellow Helen Purcell residents, and she never stayed away too long.
“She was an active teacher here until 2009, but even after that she still came to help with the young kids and adult ladies,” said Trudy Cultice, a dance instructor who worked with Sellers for 49 years. “And she danced in the recital on May 18. She stood on stage, touched her toes, and kicked over her head. That was a tradition.”
Sellers was a lifelong member of Dance Masters of America. To see the full story, visit http://www.zanesvilletimesrecorder.com/article/20120725/NEWS01/207250303.
Carl Crosby, who brought the art of dance into the lives of thousands of Aiken, South Carolina, residents, died Tuesday at age 88 after a long illness, according to the Aiken Standard.
Crosby was the former owner of Crosby School of Dance and founded the Aiken Civic Ballet, where he served as artistic director until last season.
A native of Columbia, he studied dance in New York under such noted instructors as Leon Fokine, Maggie Black, Valentine Pereyaslavek, and Igor Schwezoff. While in New York he danced professionally on Broadway and in television programs. He also taught dance for the USO while serving in the military.
In the early 1950s he returned to Columbia, where he taught at the Foster School of Dance. He moved to Aiken and opened Crosby School of Dance, then located on Laurens Street, in 1955. In 2006 Crosby sold the studio to its second teacher and present owner Diane Toole Miller, a former student. “We all have lost a legend; he truly taught Aiken how to dance. I, personally, learned so much from him,” Miller said. “He was a true artist in so many different ways.”
“My philosophy is, don’t go in thinking you’re God’s gift to dance; go in thinking that you have a commitment to teach,” Crosby told the Aiken Standard on the occasion of the studio’s 50th anniversary. “You study each personality, and when you decide what his or her disposition is, you take it from there. You never get to the point where you can’t improve, as a teacher or a dancer.”
To read the full story, visit http://www.aikenstandard.com/story/071812-carl-crosby-dies.
Ballet San Jose dancer Tiffany Glenn died June 18 at the age of 33 after a six-year battle with cancer, according to SanJose.com.
Glenn was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in June 2006 at the age of 27. After undergoing a mastectomy, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, she returned to Ballet San Jose with a shaved head to dance in The Nutcracker that December.
Glenn performed with Dance Theatre of Harlem and trained at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center before coming to California, and taught hip-hop at a San Jose dance school when she wasn’t with the ballet.
In 2009, she choreographed a contemporary three-part ballet to a trio of songs from the soul singer John Legend. “This is part of a major time for me,” she said about the 2009 performance. “To be able to create this on a main stage; it has been a wonderful opportunity.”
The cancer returned this spring. Glenn continued dancing even while undergoing treatments. The ballet announced her retirement at the end of the spring season. She returned to her family home in Washington, D.C. but treatments proved unsuccessful. Glenn was placed in a hospice last week and was surrounded by friends and family in her final days.
To see the original story, visit http://www.sanjose.com/news/2012/06/18/in_memorandum_tiffany_glenn_ballet_san_jose_dancer.
Francia Russell, founding director of Pacific Northwest Ballet School, has noted the death of former New York City Ballet dancer and master teacher Truman Finney with a short statement.
“Truman was a devoted teacher who loved classical ballet and affected hundreds of students and professionals around the world with his quiet and thoughtful approach to teaching,” said Russell, noting that Finney taught at Pacific Northwest Ballet School from 1995 to 1997. “Though his lessons will live on for the many who were lucky enough to work with him, his presence will be sorely missed.”
Truman Ellis Finney of Quincy, Illinois, 67, died June 9 following a short battle with cancer, reported the Hansen-Spear Funeral Home. At age 15 he left Quincy to begin his formal training at School of American Ballet in New York City. After receiving his high school diploma he became a member of New York City Ballet under the direction of George Balanchine until he moved to Germany to join Stuttgart Ballet and later Hamburg Ballet.
Truman was an internationally acclaimed ballet teacher, ballet dancer, and former ballet master and director. Truman had been coaching and teaching dancers and companies throughout the world such as Hamburg Ballet, Royal Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, School of American Ballet, Les Ballet de Monte Carlo, and many more both as a resident teacher and a guest teacher when he was appointed ballet master at Royal Danish Ballet in Denmark. In 2010, after 50 years in the ballet world, Truman retired.
To see the full obituary, visit http://www.hansenspear.com/truman-finney/.
Fremont resident and longtime Newark [CA] dance instructor Betty Gentry died May 6, family members confirmed this week to the Newark Patch.She was 87.
Gentry, born and raised in San Francisco, ran her own studio for 15 years. Afterward, she moved to Fremont, and in December 1963, started teaching dance in Newark. Forty-eight years later, in June 2011, the Newark City Council commended her upon her retirement.
“You’ve just created such a legacy here in Newark. You’ve touched so many lives,” said former mayor David Smith during the council meeting. Gentry told the audience that night that she was thankful for being a part of the Newark community.
“I’ve always been very, very happy. And [my] classes were good because of you,” Gentry said. “Thank you for letting me be a part of your lives. It was not a job. It was a joy.”
A celebration of her life will be held May 12 at 1pm at the Chapel of the Roses, 1940 Peralta Boulevard, Fremont. To read the full article, visit http://newark.patch.com/articles/dance-instructor-betty-gentry-dead-at-87.
Peter Boal, Pacific Northwest Ballet artistic director, released a statement this week following the death of Where the Wild Things Are author/illustrator Maurice Sendak, who, in 1983, designed fanciful, wildly colorful sets and costumes for PNB’s Nutcracker.
“We at Pacific Northwest Ballet are saddened by the news of Maurice Sendak’s passing. Each of us has a deep connection to Maurice through treasured tales that were read to us as children. In turn, I loved revisiting favorite stories with my children as they will with their children. His books are part of us and part of a family tradition.
“At the ballet we have another Sendak tradition equally dear to us: each winter when we step into the wondrous storybook world of [choreographer] Kent Stowell and Maurice Sendak’s Nutcracker. Mischievous mice, an exotic peacock, the Pasha’s seraglio, and even a curious monster from Where the Wild Things Are create a blissful return to childhood.
“Many at PNB remember working side by side with Maurice while he discovered the world of ballet and we discovered the alchemy of magic and wonder. We will proudly dedicate this year’s Nutcracker to Maurice Sendak, an artist who taught us to dream in color.”
According to the Seattle Times, Sendak died early Tuesday in Danbury, Connecticut at age 83 four days after suffering a stroke.
To see the full obituary, visit http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/entertainment/2018163076_apusobitmauricesendak.html.
Got news? Email Karen@rheegold.com and include your name, email and phone. We like accompanying photos too with photographer’s credit and photo description.
It is with great sadness that Tulsa Ballet announced the death of its co-founder, Edna Moscelyne Larkin Jasinski, one of Oklahoma’s five Native American ballerinas and a teacher who instilled in her students a love of the art form and a passion for excellence. She died April 25 at age 87.
A press release from the Tulsa Ballet said Larkin and her late husband, Roman Jasinski, were the breath and soul of the early Tulsa Civic Ballet, and their former students throughout the world are testaments to their talent, technique, and artistic training.
Larkin, who danced under the stage name “Moussia Larkina” or “Moscelyne Larkin,” was admired throughout her professional career for her on-stage magnetism and her exceptional leaps and turns. She excelled in roles that required charm, speed, and virtuosity.
Born January 14, 1925 in Miami, Oklahoma to a Russian-born mother, Eva Matlagova, and a Shawnee Peoria/Welsh father, Ruben (Babe) Larkin, Larkin remained proud of her dual cultural heritage and her Oklahoma roots throughout her life. At age 13 she moved to New York City to train, impressing legendary choreographer Michael Fokine, and at 15, winning a spot in the corps de ballet of Colonel de Basil’s Original Ballet Russe.
After a stellar career dancing at Radio City Music Hall and with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, she retired to Oklahoma, where in 1956, Larkin and her husband founded Tulsa Ballet Arts (today Tulsa Ballet). Larkin was named Outstanding Indian of the Year by the Council of American Indians in 1976, was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1978, and in 1997, she and her fellow Oklahoma Indian ballerinas –Maria Tallchief, Marjorie Tallchief, Rosella Hightower, and Yvonne Chouteau—were given the rare designation “Oklahoma Treasures.”
To read the full obituary, visit http://www.tulsaballet.org/news.asp?id=10&pid=185&task=display&pcatid=.
Got news? Email Karen@rheegold.com and include your name, email and phone. We like accompanying photos too with photographer’s credit and photo description.
Hugo Fiorato, a former child prodigy who became the conductor of the New York City Ballet and one of its most enduring influences, died April 23 in Boston, reported The New York Times. He was 98.
Fiorato, who was with NYCB for 56 years, was a figure of continuity surpassed only by George Balanchine, who founded it in 1948 with Fiorato’s mentor, the conductor Leon Barzin.
Fiorato held almost every job the company had to offer, starting as its first concertmaster in 1948 and including associate conductor, tour conductor, summertime conductor at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and principal conductor during the last 15 years of his career, from age 75 to age 90. During off-seasons and leaves of absence he was also chief conductor and musical director of the Boston Ballet, the Houston Ballet, and the National Ballet in Washington. He retired from NYCB in 2004.
He was always aware of the supporting and almost invisible role the conductor played in ballet. In ballet the music matters, he said, but the dancers matter more.
“With a symphony orchestra, you can do what you damn please; if you feel like going a little bit faster or slower, you do,” he said in a 2001 interview. “With a ballet company, if you don’t give the dancers the tempos that they need, they’re dead, because there’s such a thing as gravity.”
“The trick is to give the dancers and musicians the right tempo”—taking into account the different timing required by a taller dancer like Jacques d’Amboise as opposed to a shorter one like Edward Villella, he added parenthetically—“and make it sound as though that’s the way the composer dreamed of it; to give it that excitement.”
His family said that even at 90 he retired reluctantly.
To read the full obituary, visit http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/27/arts/dance/hugo-fiorato-conductor-at-city-ballet-dies-at-98.html?_r=1.
Gwen “Miss B” Bowen, who spent more than five decades teaching thousands of people in Denver to dance, died last month at age 83, reported the Denver Post.
She was found in her home on March 29, a few hours before she was to be honored at the Colorado Ballet’s Tribute to Women in Dance. Her legions of students range from a Broadway musical choreographer (Lynne Taylor-Corbette of Swing! and Footloose)to elementary school children whose families qualify for free-lunch programs.
Born and educated in Denver, Bowen studied dance with Colorado opera choreographer Lillian Cushing. At age 17, Bowen successfully auditioned for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo’s touring company, but her parents were unwilling to let her go. Shortly after that, an injury ended her hopes for a performing career.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in education and began teaching dance, founding the Gwen Bowen School of Dance Arts. From the beginning, students and fellow teachers called her “Miss B.” She disliked her given name, and the nickname evoked the legendary George Balanchine, whose nickname was “Mr. B.”
Services will be held at 10am April 21 at Olinger Moore-Howard Chapel, 4345 West 46th Avenue, Denver. Donations may be made to the Bowen Family Performing Arts Fund, care of the Denver Foundation, 55 Madison Street, Denver, CO 80206, to fund scholarships for disadvantaged youth interested in the performing arts.
To see the full story, visit http://www.denverpost.com/recommended/ci_20348852
Ursula Melita Hirschfeld Heisman, 93, whose Ballet des Jeunes performed for Princess Grace on a trip to Monaco in 1968, died April 1 of thyroid disease at her home in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Known as Ursula Melita, she directed the ballet, for girls up to 18, simultaneously at studios in Bala Cynwyd, Moorestown, and Philadelphia. Ballet des Jeunes is now located at Tambussi Studio in Westmont, Camden County, and is run by Donna Tambussi, who became artistic director in 1986.
Born in Berlin, Melita fled to Cuba with her brother Helmut soon after the anti-Semitic riots known as Kristallnacht in November 1938, the year she turned 20. She told The Inquirer in 1987 that she moved to the United States in 1945 and opened a ballet school in New York, moved to Philadelphia in 1949, and a few years later opened a dance school there.
“All the parents looked at me like I was completely out of my mind . . . like, how can children dance?” she later recalled. “I feel children can do so much more than people expect them to do, if taught right.”
In 1975 Ballet des Jeunes spent three weeks in Romania on an Ambassadors of Friendship tour, mixing classical ballet with folk dance. A 1985 report stated that they had performed in Austria and Hungary that year.
In 1978, Melita was elected secretary of the Philadelphia Dance Alliance. She retired in 1987.
To read the full obituary, visit http://www.philly.com/philly/obituaries/145868155.html.
Ethel Winter, a former dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company and Juilliard teacher, died on March 10. She was 87.
Born June 18, 1924 in Wrentham, Massachusetts, Winter earned bachelor of arts and master of arts degrees from Bennington College under the direction of Martha Hill, her first contemporary dance teacher and lifelong mentor. Winter was a soloist with the Sophie Maslow Company, appeared in summer stock, TV, and Broadway productions, and directed and choreographed for her own company.
She guest taught in colleges and universities throughout the United States and abroad and was a founder of the London School of Contemporary Dance in Britain and the Batsheva School in Israel. Winter was a permanent faculty member of The Martha Graham School from 1946 to 2006 and at The Juilliard School from 1953 to 2003.
For more biographical information, visit http://www.juilliard.edu/journal/2008-2009/0811/articles/0811_winter.php
Shaun O’Brien, a celebrated former character dancer with New York City Ballet, died Thursday in Saratoga Springs, New York, The New York Times reported. He was 86.
O’Brien, whose four decades with NYCB included more than 30 holiday seasons as Drosselmeyer in The Nutcracker, had been retired from the company for 21 years, The Times said.
He joined NYCB in 1949, a year after its founding, as a member of the corps and soon focused on the character roles that made him a favorite with audiences and critics. By the time he retired, in 1991 at age 65, he had appeared alongside such stars as Violette Verdy, Allegra Kent, Patricia McBride, Jerome Robbins, Edward Villella, and Jacques d’Amboise.
John Peter O’Brien (he changed his name to Shaun early in his career) was born on Nov. 28, 1925, in Brooklyn, New York, and made his dance debut at 4 beside his older sister in a local recital. “I loved every minute of it,” he recalled in a 1979 interview with The Times. “They had to get out the hook and lower the curtain, because I refused to leave the stage.”
To see the full story, visit http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/28/arts/dance/shaun-obrien-86-new-york-city-ballet-dancer.html?_r=1.
Zina Bethune, 66, a former Nutcracker Clara for New York City Ballet and the founder of a Los Angeles dance and theatrical company, was struck by two vehicles and killed shortly after midnight Sunday after she apparently stopped to help an injured animal along Forest Lawn Drive in L.A., The Los Angeles Times reported.
Police said Bethune was struck by a car and thrown to the other side of the street, where she was run over by a second vehicle and dragged about 600 feet. Bethune, whose married name was Feeley, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Bethune was the artistic director and choreographer for what is now called Theatre Bethune, a non-profit organization she founded in Los Angeles in 1980. Previously known as Bethune Theatredanse, the company has toured internationally and performed at the White House.
Bethune also founded Infinite Dreams, a participatory dance and performance outreach program for children with disabilities that is held in schools and community centers throughout Southern California and has had more than 8,000 participants.
She was inspired to start Infinite Dreams because of her own experience dealing with disabilities, including scoliosis, lymphedema, and dysplastic hips. “I was born with everything that said I wouldn’t be a dancer,” she told The Times in 1985. “Every surgeon who sees my X-rays says, ‘You can’t dance.’ But I have all my life. Some doctors told me that, if I hadn’t danced, I’d have been a cripple.”
She started formal ballet training at age 6 at George Balanchine’s School of American Ballet in New York City, playing Clara in a televised production of The Nutcracker. She also appeared in the 1956 Broadway musical comedy The Most Happy Fella when she was 11 and was a guest artist with a number of international dance companies.
She costarred in the 1962-65 TV series The Nurses (later retitled The Doctors and the Nurses), starred with Harvey Keitel in Martin Scorsese’s 1967 film Who’s That Knocking at My Door, was a regular on TV’s Love of Life, and took over a role in the 1989-92 Broadway production of Grand Hotel.
To read the full story, visit http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-zina-bethune-20120214,0,5819007.story
Choreographer and dancer Rudi van Dantzig died at his home in Amsterdam on Thursday at the age of 78. He had been suffering from cancer for some time, according to Dutch News.nl.
Van Dantzig is regarded as one of modern ballet’s most innovative choreographers. With fellow choreographer Hans van Manen and set designer Toer van Schayk, van Dantzig revolutionized Dutch ballet.
Born in 1933 to a communist family in Amsterdam, van Dantzig was first drawn to dance at age 16 after seeing the film The Red Shoes. He managed to attract the attention of Dutch National Ballet founder Sonia Gaskell, who told him he was “not very talented but since we need boys you can come.”
In 1955 he made his first choreography for the company and, as its sole artistic director from 1971 to 1991, went on to make another 50 ballets, include Monument for a Dead Boy. He also wrote several books, including Remembering Nureyev, The Trail of a Comet, about his often-tempestuous relationship with the ballet star.
He received much praise for his writing, choreography, and tireless work on behalf of Dutch dance, and was awarded the Prix de la Critique and the Life Achievement Award from the Association Benois de la Danse.
“Rudi was an amiable person with a social conscience,” said van Manen, his colleague and friend for more than 60 years. “He was always standing up for minorities. The National Ballet would not be what it is if it hadn’t been for him.”
To see the full story, visit http://www.dutchnews.nl/features/2012/01/obituary_rudi_van_dantzig_chor.php.
Many young African Americans received their first taste of the fine art of dance from Dr. Gloria “Dip” Mathis Venson at Deeta’s Lively Arts Dance Studio in South Memphis, Tennessee.
The Commercial Appeal said that students unwelcome in other dance studios were introduced to classical ballet, tap, and jazz in Venson’s studio, where she never raised her voice but expected her high standards to be met.
Venson died January 7 at her home after a long illness.
Venson operated the studio from 1965 to 1982 and saw many students leave Memphis for greater things. “She helped me to dream,” a former student, Lowell Smith, told The Commercial Appeal in 1993. Smith, who went on to become a principal dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem, died in 2007.
Venson graduated from Douglass High School and earned degrees from Tennessee State University, the University of Memphis, and Southern Illinois University. She wa
In addition to her husband of 49 years, Kennel Venson Jr., she is survived by sisters Lavern Buford of Memphis and Geraldine Hooks of Columbus, Ohio.s a teacher, guidance counselor, and assistant principal with Memphis City Schools. She was active in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., the Douglass national alumni group, and in the 1983 Leadership Memphis class. Venson also choreographed the Debutante Cotillion for 44 years.
To read the full obituary, visit http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2012/jan/13/dance-instructor-led-graceful-life/.
Miguel Terekhov, a dancer with the two leading Ballets Russes troupes of the 1940s and ’50s and a co-founder, with his wife, of the School of Dance at the University of Oklahoma, died January 3 at the home of a daughter in Richardson, Texas, reported the New York Times. He was 83 and lived in Oklahoma City.
He was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, on August 22, 1928, to Mikhail Terekhov, an immigrant from Ukraine, and Antonia Rodriguez, a Charraúa Indian. Terekhov became enamored of ballet at 7 when an aunt took him to a performance. But when he told his parents that he wished to become a professional dancer, his father objected, arguing that a dancer’s life was one of constant hardship. His father then pulled out old scrapbooks and, for the first time, Terekhov learned that his father had been a dancer in Ukraine.
Terekhov danced with Col. W. de Basil’s Ballets Russes from 1942 to 1947 and with the rival Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo from 1954 to 1958. Although he performed classical roles, he was best known as a character dancer, winning praise as the imperious Shah in Schéhérazade, the crusty old General in Graduation Ball, and Dr. Coppélius, the eccentric inventor, in Coppélia.
While with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, he met and married Yvonne Chouteau, one of the five American Indian ballerinas of Oklahoma, the others being Rosella Hightower, Moscelyne Larkin, and Maria and Marjorie Tallchief.
When the couple visited Chouteau’s parents in Oklahoma City in 1961, her father, C. E. Chouteau, a prominent Indian figure in the state, declared that the university should offer ballet at the time, the university offered only a single modern dance class through the physical education department. He persuaded university officials to allow Chouteau and Terekhov to teach ballet there, and the University of Oklahoma School of Dance was born.
In addition to his wife, Terekhov is survived by two daughters, Elizabeth A. Impallomeni and Christina Conway, and two grandsons.
To see the obituary, visit http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/10/arts/dance/miguel-terekhov-dancer-with-ballets-russes-dies-at-83.html.
Elvin “Mr. Al” Arnold—the man who said he taught more than 10,000 people in Mobile, Alabama to dance—died December 24 in an area hospital. According to AL.com, he was 88.
Arnold was born in West Virginia but grew up in Colorado, eventually joining the Navy in World War II. Around 1950 on his way to Florida, he found himself in Mobile and decided to stay.
He invested in a ballroom dance school and learned to rhumba, cha cha cha, foxtrot, and tango before losing his investment. Undeterred, he started his own studio, and then in 1962 he opened the club Danceorama to give his students a place to dance. He met his wife, Frankie, through dance, and made friends with thousands of regular club clients. Big bands performed there, and in later years, country artists like Conway Twitty Jr. and Barbara Mandrell headlined.
In the late 1960s, he moved to Orlando to open a dance studio there, but soon he returned to Mobile, where he cleaned up a big, empty building on Dauphin Island Parkway and opened Mr. Al’s Party Palace in June of 1973. The Party Palace closed in 1986 and the couple started Mr. Al’s Travels. He retired from the travel agency in 2006.
Both careers were perfect for her husband, Frankie said, “because he never met a stranger. It was never really work to him because he loved people so much and he believed in giving people value for their entertainment dollars.”
To read the full obit, visit http://blog.al.com/live/2011/12/mobile_dance_teacher_mr_al_dea.html.
Mark Goldweber, ballet master for Ballet West and director of Ballet West II, died December 9 of cancer, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. He was 53.
As the announcement of his death Friday spread via email and the Internet, staff of the Salt Lake City-based company received emotional notes from dancers, administrators, and dance writers across the country.
Artistic director Adam Sklute called his longtime colleague and friend a shining light in the dance world and a genius in the studio. “Mark’s passion and enthusiasm for ballet, music, and culture were infectious and inspiring for everyone around him,” Sklute said.
Sklute and Goldweber’s friendship stretched back 25 years, beginning when both were dancers with The Joffrey Ballet and continuing as they worked on the artistic team under Joffrey director Gerald Arpino. They became such close colleagues that when Sklute accepted the Utah position, Goldweber asked if he could come along, Sklute said.
As Sklute gathered a talented staff in Salt Lake City, Goldweber in 2007 became part of the team that would change the face of the newly developing Ballet West II. “He immediately affected the company with his attention to detail and built BW II into a performing group in its own right,” Sklute said.
Goldweber also worked as ballet master for Oregon Ballet Theater. To see the full obit, visit http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/53102079-78/ballet-goldweber-west-sklute.html.csp.
Ron Fletcher, a former dancer and choreographer who helped popularize the Pilates exercise system when he opened the first West Coast studio in 1972, died last week at his home in Stonewall, Texas, reported the Los Angeles Times. He was 90.
The cause was congestive heart failure, said Kyria Sabin, director of Fletcher Pilates, which trains instructors in the exercise methods Fletcher developed based on the teachings of Joseph and Clara Pilates.
Forty years ago, few people outside of New York, where the Pilates method was first taught, had heard of the fitness regimen. Today it is practiced by millions of people around the world—a popularity due in part to the celebrity buzz that surrounded Fletcher’s Beverly Hills studio, which attracted such 1970s Hollywood stars as Candice Bergen, Barbra Streisand, Raquel Welch, and Cher. Even Nancy Reagan, then California’s first lady, dropped in.
In the Pilates world, Fletcher was seen as a pioneer who took the fitness program in new, sometimes controversial directions, expanding it to include standing exercises, floor work derived from his early studies with dance icon Martha Graham, and upper-body work done with the aid of a rolled towel.
He gave up his studio about 20 years ago and moved to Texas but continued to travel the world giving workshops. He taught his last class in May at a 90th birthday celebration in Tucson, Arizona. To read the full story, visit http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-ron-fletcher-20111211,0,2607739.story.
Lenore Smith, 87, recently retired owner of the Lenore Smith Dance Arts Centre in Bakerfield, California, and an influential figure in the local performing arts community, died on Thanksgiving Day in Phoenix, Arizona, reported The Bakerfield Californian.
In an interview with The Californian in June on the occasion of her retirement, Smith acknowledged the toll that running a business had taken on her in recent years. She eventually moved to Phoenix to be with one of her sons and his family. Her studio now operates under the direction of Janie Kennedy.
Smith was born Lenore Christensen in Long Beach, California, on February 29, 1924. Her family moved first to Manassa, Colorado, where she learned to dance from an aunt who was a professional dancer. Smith began to study formally after the family moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The family moved back to California to help the dancer realize her show business dreams. Studying dance with Nico Charisse, future husband of famed movie dancer Cyd Charisse, gave Smith the connections she needed to get a Screen Actors Guild card and her first movie roles. In addition to dancing parts in films, the young Smith, who went by the professional name of Chris Randall, also performed and toured in USO shows, benefit performances, and international touring engagements.
Smith married her husband, Gale, in 1949, and eventually moved to Bakersfield. Smith started teaching at the DuFresne Dance Studio shortly after moving to Bakersfield, and eventually bought the studio in 1988.
To read the full story, visit http://www.bakersfield.com/entertainment/local/x986931294/A-fond-farewell-to-Bakersfield-dance-icon-Lenore-Smith.
Donya Feuer, an American modern-dance choreographer who moved to Sweden in 1963 and became a close collaborator of Ingmar Bergman as well as a theater director and filmmaker in her own right, died on November 6 in Stockholm, according to The New York Times. She was 77.
Feuer studied and performed with Martha Graham and was part of the experimental dance scene in New York in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In 1957, she performed in Paul Taylor’s 7 New Dances, a milestone as one of the first pieces to focus on everyday movement.
That same year, Feuer and the dancer and choreographer Paul Sanasardo formed their own company and school in New York, Studio for Dance. They pioneered full-evening modern-dance works and delved into highly theatrical explorations of the human personality.
Dance scholar Mark Franko said their role in the 1960s dance avant-garde was as important and influential as the better-known experiments of the Judson Dance Theater, the Times reported.
Feuer directed The Dancer, a 1994 documentary that followed the training of a Swedish ballet student. Her more experimental films included Nijinsky: A Life, and two collaborations with Bergman, The Magic Flute and Face to Face.
To read the full obit, visit http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/16/arts/dance/donya-feuer-modern-dance-choreographer-dies-at-77.html?_r=1
Annabelle Lyon, an American ballerina who danced with some of the most important companies in the formative years of American ballet, died on November 4 at her home in Mansfield, Massachusetts, according to The New York Times. She was 95.
Lyon joined the American Ballet, George Balanchine’s first American company, in 1935 and also appeared with Ballet Caravan, a troupe organized by Lincoln Kirstein in 1936. In 1939 she became a charter member of Ballet Theatre (now American Ballet Theatre). On January 12, 1940, partnered by Anton Dolin, she was the first ballerina in that company to dance the title role of Giselle.
The daughter of Russian immigrants, Lyon was born in New York on January 8, 1916. Her father, who ran a chain of grocery stores in the South, moved the family to Memphis, where she grew up and took her first ballet lessons. She was awarded a scholarship to the New York school of the choreographer and teacher Michel Fokine, living with relatives in Brooklyn while commuting to Fokine’s Manhattan studio.
After leaving Ballet Theatre in 1943, Lyon danced on Broadway from 1945 to 1947 in Carousel, choreographed by Agnes de Mille. She later appeared as guest artist with Ballet Theatre and on Broadway in 1959 in Juno, also choreographed by de Mille.
To read the full obit, visit http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/11/arts/dance/annabelle-lyon-dancer-with-balanchine-dies-at-95.html.
Rob Remley, a former dancer with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company who found a second career as a Hollywood marketing executive, died of cancer September 27 in Los Angeles, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
He most recently served as senior VP of international marketing and distribution at Warner Bros., and prior to that held a similar post at New Line Cinema, where he worked on such projects as The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
After receiving a BA in English literature from the University of California, Berkeley, and a MA in dance from Ohio State University, Remley joined the Merce Cunningham Dance Company for which he performed until 1988. The highlight of his dance career came in 1984 when he performed a piece called Quartet, choreographed specifically for him by Cunningham.
After leaving the company, Remley received an MBA with distinction from Columbia University and then moved to the West Coast where he joined the international marketing department of RCA/Columbia Home Entertainment.
For more details, visit http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/rob-remley-dancer-hollywood-marketing-243456.
Ruth Currier, principal dancer with the José Limón Dance Company, company director, and modern dance teacher, died at her home in Brooklyn on October 4 at the age of 85, according to the company website.
Born in Ashland, Ohio in 1926, Currier studied dance with Limón and Doris Humphrey. She joined Limón’s company in 1949 and remained with the group as a principal dancer for two decades, creating roles in some of Limón most important and enduring works, including There is a Time and Missa Brevis.
Currier began her choreographic career when she completed Humphrey’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 following Humphrey’s death, and went on to create more than 50 works, including dances for the Limón Company and her own Ruth Currier Dance Company, which she formed in 1958.
After Limón’s death in 1972 the company dancers invited her to lead them, which she did as artistic director for five years at a time when conventional wisdom held that a modern dance company could not survive its founder. She broadened the repertory beyond Limón’s and Humphrey’s works, and in 1977 acquired Kurt Jooss’ The Green Table.
Currier resigned in 1978 and devoted the next 20 years to the Limón Institute and her own Ruth Currier Dance Studio. Over the years she taught at The Juilliard School, Bennington College, Sarah Lawrence College, and in schools around the world, defining the principles of Humphrey and Limón, and establishing a formal base for using the principles to teach contemporary technique. More information, photos of Currier can be found at http://limon.org/images/CurrierObitphotos.jpg.
Alexander Grant, a beloved star of British ballet and a former artistic director of the National Ballet of Canada, died September 30 in London, according to The New York Times. He was 86.
Grant was acclaimed for his magnetic personality and demi-caractère style, particularly in Frederick Ashton’s works for The Royal Ballet. He originated the role of Alain, the rich farmer’s son, in Ashton’s La Fille mal gardée and later staged the work for many companies, including American Ballet Theatre.
Grant was born on Feb. 22, 1925, in Wellington, New Zealand, and began his dance studies at the age of 7. He was offered a ballet scholarship in London and arrived there in February 1946. Two months later he was invited into the Sadler’s Wells Theater Ballet, the recently formed junior troupe of the Sadler’s Wells Ballet (which became The Royal Ballet in 1956). Ninette de Valois, founder of both troupes, invited him into the senior company in September 1946.
During his 30 years as a dancer in the Royal Ballet (1946 to 1976), Grant appeared in 30 Ashton ballets, creating roles in 22 premieres. He led the National Ballet of Canada from 1976 to 1983.
Vancouver’s arts community learned last week of the death of impresario and producer David Y.H. Lui, a prominent member of the artistic community in Canada for more than 40 years and a co-founder of the Ballet of British Columbia.
Most recently he had been working on the upcoming performances of the National Ballet of Cuba, scheduled to take place in February 2012. He died September 14, two weeks before his 67th birthday.
Lui, a Vancouver native, became fascinated by dance and ballet in the 1970s and ’80s and worked with many companies, bringing performances to audiences in Western Canada and founding several major British Columbia arts organizations. He was also involved in designing the on-land cultural program for Vancouver’s Dragon Boat Festival.
On the international stage, Lui was recognized and celebrated for developing sophisticated audiences in Vancouver through the presentation of artists and companies that appealed to a wide and varied audience. He was a member of the Order of Canada for his work in the arts.
According to Curve Communications, he is survived by his brother, Philip, and his sister-in-law, Ping, who live in New York.
To read his obituary in the Vancouver Sun, visit http://www.vancouversun.com/entertainment/Arts+impresario+David+dies+just+short+67th+birthday/5410734/story.html.
Dotty Stewart McGill, national president of Dance Masters of America from 1974 to 1976, died August 10 in Grove City, Pennsylvania, after a sudden illness, according to The Sharon Herald. She was 90.
McGill, the co-founder of the DMA teacher training school, was a past judge of the semifinals of the Miss America Pageant and president emeritus of Dance Masters of Pennsylvania.
She was born Feb. 14, 1921, in Sharon to Edward Lee Stewart and Mary E. Corrigan Stewart. She was founder and owner of Dotty McGill School of Dance, Grove City, which celebrated its 75th anniversary recital this past June. Formerly, she operated dance studios in Fredonia, Slippery Rock, New Castle, and West Sunbury.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in McGill’s name to The Dotty Stewart McGill Memorial Scholarship Fund in care of PNC Bank, 201 S. Broad Street, Grove City, PA 16127. A fund is being established for an annual scholarship to a local high school student to further his/her education.
To see the full obituary, visit http://sharonherald.com/obituaries/x670925418/Dotty-Stewart-NcGill.
Shirley J. Larkin, owner and founder of Larkin Dance Studio in Maplewood, Minnesota, died Wednesday morning, August 10, surrounded by her family, according to the studio.
Larkin had been teaching dance for more than 60 years. Certified by the Chicago National Association of Dance Masters, she served as president and secretary of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Association of Dance and Affiliated Artists from 1962 until 1970, and was National President Emeritus of the Professional Dance Teachers Association.
In 1950 she founded Larkin Dance Studio, where two of her daughters, Michele Larkin-Wagner and Molly Larkin-Symanietz, are on the faculty. In addition to her studio work, Larkin choreographed many musicals, taught dance workshops, and judged numerous dance competitions.
Robert Ivey, a distinguished dancer, choreographer, and artistic director who died July 15, will be remembered for the many lives he touched in the Charleston arts community, reported The Post and Courier this weekend.
Founder and artistic director of the Robert Ivey Ballet and director at the Robert Ivey Ballet School, he studied ballet at the American Ballet Theatre School while attending Columbia University in New York as a pre-med student in the 1950s. Ivey later would study at the Ballet Arts School in Carnegie Hall.
His professional credits included major roles on Broadway and in Europe, among them the New York and London productions of West Side Story, and his work earned numerous grants and awards. Ivey was a member of the Swedish State Theatre and Royal Norwegian Ballet and performed on European tours with such stars as E.G. Marshall, Sada Thompson, Esther Rolle, and Liv Ullmann.
Ivey had served as dancer and choreographer in residence for the Brevard Music Center and for the Spoleto Festival USA. He was a past president of the Charleston Area Arts Council and a professor of dance in the Theatre and Dance Department in the School of the Arts at the College of Charleston.
Colleagues said Ivey’s influence is felt widely in Charleston area artistic circles, and that his example would endure.
“The biggest thing I would say about Bob is that it is a huge loss to the Lowcountry, and that he will be sorely missed by a lot of the people in the arts, not only in the world of just dance, but all over the United States,” said colleague and friend Jill Eathorne Barr of the Charleston Ballet Theatre. “He has taught many young dancers a love of dance he loved so much himself.”
To read the full story, visit http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2011/jul/16/ivey-ballet-founder-dancer-dies/.
Dancer, choreographer, and director Tony Stevens, who worked with Bob Fosse and Michael Bennett and epitomized the life of a Broadway “gypsy,” has died, according to Playbill.com. He was 63. The cause was Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Stevens danced in several Broadway shows—including the 1970s productions of The Boyfriend and Irene—before graduating to choreography. He was assistant choreographer on the original production of Fosse’s Chicago, and then co-choreographer with Gower Champion on Rockabye Hamlet in 1976. He was put fully in charge of the choreography on Rachel Lily Rosenbloom and Don’t You Ever Forget It, but the 1973 Broadway musical failed to officially open.
He choreographed the Frank Loesser revue Perfectly Frank in 1980. A graduation to directing did not turn out well when the musical Wind in the Willows folded in four performances in 1985. In 2005, Stevens helped reproduce some of Fosse’s choreography in Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life. Recently, he was on the faculty at Broadway Dance Center.
Stevens’ greatest claim to fame was the supporting role he played in providing the spark for one of Broadway’s landmark musicals. In 1974 he and another dancer, Michon Peacock, organized a series of taped workshop sessions in which dancers bared their life stories and their feelings about their chosen profession. Michael Bennett was invited to sit in as an observer. That taped material eventually led directly to the text and subject matter of A Chorus Line.
Stevens also found work in film, providing footwork for the movies The Great Gatsby, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Johnny Dangerously, and She’s Having a Baby. To see the full story, visit http://www.playbill.com/news/article/152719-Choreographer-Tony-Stevens-Dies-at-63
Roland Petit, a leading French choreographer who swept away ballet taboos and whose mix of entertainment and art also made his work popular in Hollywood, died Sunday in Geneva, according to the New York Times. He was 87 and had lived in Switzerland for more than a decade.
His death was reported by his wife, the ballerina Zizi Jeanmaire, the Paris Opera Ballet said.
Although Petit choreographed cheerful films like Hans Christian Andersen with Danny Kaye, sex and suffering were the themes of the two early ballets that became his international signature pieces: Carmen and Le Jeune Homme et la Mort.
Petit stunned dance and theater audiences in London in New York in 1949 with the frank eroticism of his ballet version of Carmen, in which Renée (later Zizi) Jeanmaire seduced Petit, as Don José.
But Petit displayed a deeper side in his 1946 masterpiece Le Jeune Homme et la Mort (The Young Man and Death), about a bohemian painter in his garret, ostensibly waiting for his sweetheart but who hangs himself in despair. His lover reveals herself as an allegorical figure of death before leading the antihero across a surreal rooftop panorama of Paris.
Trained at the Paris Opera Ballet school, Petit joined the company’s corps at 16. He later founded the Les Ballets des Champs-Élysées and his own company, Les Ballets de Paris de Roland Petit. After choreographing several Hollywood films, he returned to Paris to choreograph for ballets and music hall revues and briefly served as director of the Paris Opera Ballet. Over a half-century, he choreographed some 150 ballets.
To read the full story, visit http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/11/arts/dance/roland-petit-choreographer-is-dead-at-87.html?_r=1&ref=dance
Ed Burgess, 58, chair and professor of the Dance Department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts, died last week, the university has announced.
Burgess joined the department in 1989 following several years of touring with Jennifer Muller and the Works (NYC) and teaching internationally in Ireland, Norway, and Taiwan. He began his dance training in 1974 at the Houston Academy and then received a scholarship to attend Southern Methodist University in Dallas from 1975 to 1977. He joined Connecticut Dance Theatre in Hartford in 1977 and then moved to New York City in 1979 to join Muller.
Burgess then moved to Milwaukee in the late ’80s to join the UWM Peck School of the Arts dance faculty, becoming a full professor and chair of the Theater and Dance Department in 2002. The following year he became the first chair of the independent Dance Department.
His interests ranged from original work in contemporary dance and performance art to theater, cabaret, and musical theater. Burgess was named both Performer of the Year (Dance) and Choreographer of the Year by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and received the Wisconsin Arts Board Choreographic Fellowship Award and the board’s Independent Project Award. He also assisted the university’s Dance Department in receiving two DANCE/USA National College Choreography Initiative grants.
Annelise Mertz, professor emerita in the Performing Arts Department in Arts & Sciences (PAD) at Washington University in St. Louis, died April 28, at her home in Clayton, Missouri, of pancreatic cancer, according to the university. She was 93.
Mertz was a celebrated teacher, performer, choreographer, and champion for the arts. In 2001, the university dedicated the Annelise Mertz Dance Studio in Mallinckrodt Center—its primary dance rehearsal/performance space—in her honor. In 2004, she received the Missouri Arts Award, the state’s highest honor for achievement in the arts.
Born in Berlin, Mertz trained in ballet, modern dance, Laban theory and notation, and Wigman technique, pursuing graduate work with choreographer Kurt Jooss and later dancing with several European companies, including Kurt Jooss Dance Theatre.
Mertz immigrated to the United States in 1955, teaching at the University of Illinois-Chicago before coming to Washington University in 1957 where she founded and served as artistic director of Washington University Dance Theatre and spearheaded the creation of the Dance Major Program and of the PAD.
Mertz founded both Dance St. Louis and the St. Louis Ragtime Ensemble (later the St. Louis Dancers). For the full story, visit www.news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/22260.aspx.
Edward Bigelow, a longtime dancer and administrator at New York City Ballet, died Monday in a car accident in Sharon, Connecticut, The New York Times reported Friday. He was 93 and lived in West Cornwall, Connecticut.
Bigelow, who performed as a dancer from 1946 through the 1960s, was known for his character roles, including the Mouse King in George Balanchine’s Nutcracker; Kastchei, the evil wizard in Firebird; Rothbart in Balanchine’s Swan Lake; and Pluto, king of the underworld in Orpheus.
He was also an aide to Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein, NYCB’s founders. He became an assistant to Balanchine in 1949 while still a dancer, was a production assistant from 1951 to 1977, and had the title of manager from 1978 to 1987.
Bigelow is survived by his wife, Carla, and four stepchildren. For full story, see www.nytimes.com/2011/04/08/arts/dance/edward-bigelow-dancer-with-the-new-york-city-ballet-dies-at-93.
Jeanne A. Meixell, 87, of Allentown, founder and former owner of Miss Jeanne’s School of Dance Arts in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, died on March 31, reported The Morning Call.
Born in Allentown on September 2, 1923, she was the daughter of the late William J. Sr. and Frieda (Kratzer) Butler and wife of the late Robert Meixell. Meixell began dancing at age 4 and became a prominent and respected instructor, establishing her dance studio in 1945. She created the dance program at DeSales University, judged the Miss America program for four years, and served as president of Dance Masters of America. Her motto was “Dance is to live,” and her hope was to make the children as happy as they made her. She was a parishioner of St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Allentown.
She will be lovingly remembered by her brother, William J. Butler, Jr.; grandsons Robert Talijan and Chad Piotrowski; and great grandchildren Nickolas and Gabrielle Talijan. She was preceded in death by her daughter, Barbara Piotrowski, and granddaughter, Gwendel Greenblatt.
Meixell and Piotrowski were recognized for their contributions to dance education in a “Schools With Staying Power” feature story in the November 2010 issue of Dance Studio Life magazine.
Jerry Ames, a tap dancer and choreographer known for his airy, balletic style and eclectic approach, died February 7 in Woodbury, New York, reported The New York Times. He was 80 and had lived in Manhattan for many years.
For decades, Ames performed as a soloist on stages in New York and around the world. From 1976 to the early 1980s he also directed the Jerry Ames Tap Dance Company, one of the first regular troupes devoted exclusively to tap.
As a solo dancer, Ames was praised by critics for his lightness of foot and dazzling leaps and turns. His company was known for its eclectic approach to tap, melding it with waltzes, Irish jigs, and Spanish music, among other things.
To read the full story, visit www.nytimes.com/2011/02/17/arts/dance/17ames.html?_r=18&hpw.
Lois Smith, 81, the first principal ballerina at the National Ballet of Canada and a significant force in dance training in Canada, died January 22 at her home in Sechelt, British Columbia, Canada, after a long illness, according to a story on CBC News.
National Ballet co-founder Celia Franca invited Smith to join the new National Ballet of Canada in 1951 as a principal dancer. At the time, she was married to dancer David Adams and frequently paired with him in the classical repertoire, including ballets such as Coppélia and Swan Lake. She danced 18 years with the National Ballet and became associated with many dances in its repertoire, including the works of Antony Tudor and Walter Gore. Smith was especially known for her performances in the Tudor ballets Offenbach in the Underworld, Dark Elegies, and Lilac Garden.
After she left the company in 1969, Smith established the Lois Smith Dance School in Toronto, which eventually became the performing arts program of George Brown College. She also served as the head of the dance department at George Brown from 1979 to 1988. Smith was also known as a choreographer and was commissioned to create works by the Canadian Opera Company and Winnipeg Opera.