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Delta Festival Ballet Dancer and New Orleans Teacher, Gwen Delle Giacobbe, Dies

Gwen Delle Giacobbe; photo courtesy

Gwen Delle Giacobbe; photo courtesy

Gwen Delle Giacobbe, a versatile dancer who taught generations of New Orleanians to dance, died February 7 of cancer at Ochsner Medical Center, according to The Times-Picayune. She was 73.

A lifelong New Orleanian, Giacobbe taught ballet, jazz, and tap at the network of local schools her husband’s sisters, Maria and Georgie, founded in 1943 as the Giacobbe Academy of Dance, and her students went on to dance on Broadway and with the New York City, Cincinnatti, and Joffrey ballets.

Born Gwen Delle Bernadas, she attended Louisiana State University before heading to New York City, where she spent two years studying dance at several schools, including the Joffrey and American Ballet Theatre, and working as a United Airlines flight attendant.

She returned to New Orleans and studied at the Giacobbe Academy of Dance, where she met Joseph Giacobbe, the founders’ brother, whom she married. Giacobbe was part of the team that trained eight winners of the Miss Dance of Louisiana competition and one Miss Dance of America, and she and her husband danced in Teresa Torkanowsky’s flamenco troupe.

Giacobbe was a principal dancer with Delta Festival Ballet, which her husband and Maria Giacobbe founded, and she also danced in New Orleans Opera Association productions, and designed and created costumes and headdresses for Giacobbe students.

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