Dance Writer, Scholar and Filmmaker Marilyn Hunt, 1937–2021

December 14, 2021

Former Dance Magazine senior editor Marilyn Maxfield Hunt of Santa Fe passed away in her home surrounded by family on October 16. A widely published dance writer, her work appeared in The Independent in London, Ballet Review and Dance Chronicle,as well as in Dance Magazine. Hunt also served as president of the Society of Dance History Scholars.

She was born Marilyn Maxfield in 1937 in Oklahoma City to James Sydney and Frances Maxfield, and split her time between Oklahoma City and her parents’ ranch in Hereford, Texas, while growing up. She met her husband, Franklin, while a high school student at Casady School in Oklahoma City.

Hunt earned a BA in French at Wellesley College and an MA in art history from Columbia University. Upon moving to Brooklyn, New York, she became a staff member of the Guggenheim Museum and later of the dance collection of the New York Public Library. 

When she developed the dream of becoming a dance writer, Hunt contacted the local newspaper Brooklyn Heights Press and began reviewing ballet and modern dance performances. Over the course of her writing career, she interviewed many important figures from the dance world, including Igor Youskevitch, Anton Dolin, Eugene Loring, Gene Kelly, Joseph Duell and Daniel Duell, as well as other dancers and choreographers from American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet.

Years later when she and Franklin began splitting their time between New York City and Santa Fe, Hunt pursued new creative endeavors. She became a photographer, showing her work in local New Mexico galleries, and she partnered with Andrew Garcia of Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo in New Mexico in order to make a documentary film about his family group of traditional dancers. 

She is survived by Franklin; daughters Laura Van Arnam (Rick) and Molly Hunt (Mark Sardella); two granddaughters, Emma and Elizabeth Van Arnam; her cousin Ronald Maxfield, sister-in-law Marjorie Hunt and several nieces and nephews.

A burial service was held on December 3 at the Santa Fe National Cemetery, and a celebration of her life will be held May 21–22, 2022, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Museum of New Mexico Foundation are welcome. —Molly Hunt