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Pamala Jones (1966–2006)
A memorable performer with the Limón Dance Company from 1988–98, Pamala Jones’ radiant smile and powerful onstage persona endeared her to audiences and colleagues alike. She was a muse to Limón’s guest choreographers including Donald McKayle, Garth Fagan, and Ralph Lemon, all of whom created roles for her. She also knew how to make an existing dance her own, creating lasting impressions as the Young Girl in Doris Humphrey’s Day on Earth, and in Daniel Nagrin’s Spanish Dance. She established a strong presence in the Limón repertoire, where she was unforgettable as Maenad in Dances for Isadora and in A Choreographic Offering. She also danced with the companies of Kevin Wynn, Annabelle Gamson, Diane Jacobowitz, Larry Clark, and Phyllis Lamhut. A SUNY Purchase graduate, she received her early training from Annette Lewis. Since leaving Limón in 1998 to give birth to her daughter Olivia Ann, she had focused on teaching in her native Atlanta, serving on the faculty of the DeKalb School of the Arts. Pamala lost her battle with cancer on January 12, two weeks before her 40th birthday. —Norton Owen
Barry Martin (1961–2006)
Dancer, teacher, and choreographer Barry Martin died at his home in Manhattan in February at the age of 44. Martin won a scholarship to The Ailey School in his teens and went on to earn his degree in sociology and dance at SUNY Purchase. In 1983, the hip British dance company Hot Gossip asked him to join its world tour. While performing in South Africa, he was in a car accident. Refused transportation by the white-only ambulance service and entrance into the white-only hospitals, he did not receive proper care until too late. His broken neck and fractured vertebrae were left untreated, and he became quadriplegic.
But the fact Martin was confined to a wheelchair never stopped him from continuing his involvement in dance. After receiving a graduate degree in arts administration from New York University, he established Déjà Vu Dance Theater in 1986—so named “because dance was something I saw once and now see again in a new way.” Alvin Ailey commissioned Martin’s Chelsea’s Bells for his company. Martin ran workshops at the Public Theater in New York and had just established a children’s dance workshop with students from The Ailey School, School of American Ballet, and Dance Theatre of Harlem. He was working toward a further degree at NYU in arts and disabilities when he died. —Valerie Gladstone
Elena Carter Richardson (1948–2006)
Elena Carter Richardson died in Portland, OR last February. The Mexico City native and former Dance Theatre of Harlem ballerina came to Portland in 1983 to teach at Jefferson High School and dance with Pacific Ballet Theatre (a precursor of Oregon Ballet Theatre), for which she was a founding dancer. Classical roles were her forte (as a delicately loving Sugar Plum Fairy she made me cry) and her Emilia in The Moor’s Pavane was extremely effective. A dedicated, influential teacher, she was still working at OBT’s School a few months before being felled by the cancer she fought gracefully for five and a half years. Arthur Mitchell called her an inspiration: “She was part of the foundation of Dance Theatre of Harlem and she will never be forgotten.” Said OBT school director Damara Bennett, “When Elena taught, it wasn’t just about technique. She wanted to see the fire in people’s eyes.” —Martha Ullman West
Dai Ailian, founder of the prestigious Beijing Dance Academy and former director of the National Ballet of China (among many other dance companies in China), died in February. She was 89. Born in Trinidad, Ailian trained in ballet, modern, and Labanotation in London and later went to China, where she was primary in establishing ballet.
Alex Martin, founder of the Ballet Guild of Cleveland, a precursor to the Cleveland Ballet, and prominent figure in the development of dance in that city, died in January at the age of 84. Martin, who performed with the Sadler’s Wells Ballet, also founded the Cleveland Ballet Center and Cleveland Institute of Dance.
Jean Zipser, the granddaughter of former Dance Magazine owner and publisher Rudolph Orthwine, died in a car accident in February at the age of 59.
Nina Ananiashvili and her husband Gregory Vashadze welcomed their new daughter Helene into the world on February 14, Valentine’s Day.
Jennifer Langenstein and Dmitri Kulev, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre principals, are leaving the company. With their third child born recently, they have decided to move back to Texas to be closer to their family.