Jeanette Tannan Hoffman, Ballet Russe Soloist and Beloved Ballet Teacher, Dies at 88
Jeanette Tannan Hoffman was born in 1930 in Brooklyn. She began her dance training at age 4. At age 12, she had to choose between piano and ballet. At 16, she landed a part on Broadway in Sweethearts. Soon after, as the only dancer accepted by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1946, she went on to tour with that company for five years. She then danced at Radio City Music Hall and the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, and choreographed at Radio City. Dance was always one of her greatest loves: Indeed, her spark, spirit and musicality received numerous rave reviews.
In 1954, she married Edward S. Hoffman, and started a family. A devoted mother and wife, she was a beloved ballet teacher at the Irine Fokine School in Ridgewood, NJ for over 40 years. She then taught for 8 years at In the Spotlight Studio in Waldwick, NJ until age 87. She had a tremendous impact. Her commitment to superior teaching was extraordinary; many of her students went on to dance professionally. She also taught at Alvin Ailey Extension in Manhattan.
Hoffman is survived by daughter Madelyn, of Flanders, NJ, and son Steven, of Bow, WA, as well two grandsons, Galen and Forrest Hoffman, of Bow, WA.
A celebration of life will be held June 24th, 1-4pm, at In the Spotlight Studio in Waldwick. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the Jeanette Tannan Hoffman Dance Scholarship Fund, c/o M. Hoffman, P.O. Box 485, Flanders, NJ 07836. Online condolences and full obituary are at www.forevermissed.com/jeanette-tannan-hoffman.
Jennifer Kahn knew the theater industry could do better. As a professional stage manager for 17 years she worked on regional, off-Broadway and Broadway shows. Nearly each time a show closed, something unsettling happened: "I would watch them throw away our shows. All of the beautiful artwork by my friends in the paint shop would go in the trash." The elaborate backdrops? Gone.
But she had an idea: What if the material used in the backdrops and legs could be upcycled into something new? And what if theater lovers could literally keep a piece of a beloved show?
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.
For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.
New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns wasn't sure she was strong enough. A ballerina who has danced many demanding full-length and contemporary roles, she was about to push herself physically more than she thought was possible.
"I said, 'I can't. My body won't,' " she says. "He told me, 'Yes, it will.' "
She wasn't working with a ballet coach, but with personal trainer Joel Prouty, who was asking her to do squats with a heavier barbell than she'd ever used.