An Asian woman holds a lighted bulb with a long red cape flowing behind her.

Choreographer and Dancer Nai-Ni Chen Dies at 62

Choreographer and dancer Nai-Ni Chen died while vacationing in Hawaii on December 12. According to her husband, after taking morning class, she went swimming in the ocean to relax her muscles; a passer-by later spotted her body floating in the water. She was 62. An artist who inspired others with her courage, dedication and creativity, […]

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Marjorie Tallchief, Trailblazing Native American Ballerina, Dies at 95

Marjorie Tallchief, renowned as the first American and Native American première danseuse étoile at the Paris Opéra Ballet, passed away on November 30 at her home in Delray Beach, Florida. She was 95.  A member of the Osage Nation, Marjorie was the last surviving dancer of the “Five Moons”—Native American ballerinas from Oklahoma who rose […]

African-Arts Scholar Robert Farris Thompson Dies at 88

Robert Farris Thompson, who was given the Outstanding Contribution to Dance Research award by the Congress on Research in Dance in 2007, died on November 29, 2021, at 88 years of age. Thompson was the Colonel John Trumbull Professor of the History of Art and, from 1978 until 2010, Master of Timothy Dwight College at […]

Remembering Dr. Kariamu Welsh, Umfundalai’s Progenitor

This is more than an obituary. It’s a thank-you, a tribute, a song. On Tuesday October 12, 2021, scholar, choreographer, educator and Umfundalai progenitor Dr. Kariamu Welsh, passed away from complications due to a neurological disorder at her home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, at the age of 72. Raised in Brooklyn, New York, and […]

Dancer Thomas F. Dwyer, Who Joined Dance Exchange in His 50s, Dies at 87

Dance Exchange company member, cast member, collaborator and dance partner Thomas Dwyer died on October 8 at age 87. Dwyer’s influence helped shape the organization that Dance Exchange is today. He was an inimitable force onstage, with a presence that could not be overlooked, and a gentle, humble, witty soul with an infectious smile. A […]

Dancer and Founder of Nouveau Chamber Ballet Lois Ellyn Dies

Lois Ellyn, ballet dancer, choreographer, teacher and founder and artistic director of Nouveau Chamber Ballet in Fullerton, California, died on Saturday, August 28, 2021, just a few weeks after directing the ballet production A Little Night Dancing, at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center in Fullerton. Ellyn was born Lois Margaret Ellen Smith on June 19, 1924, […]

Maria Giacobbe Alessandra, Founder of Delta Festival Ballet, Dies at 92

Maria Giacobbe Alessandra passed away at her home in Metairie, Louisiana, on May 29, 2021, with her daughter Nan by her bedside. As a dance teacher for 75 years, she taught with a rare combination of love, discipline, dedication and passion overlaid by a deep maternal care for each of her students. Maria Giacobbe made […]

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