November 29, 2011

In Memoriam

Rebecca Jung (1965–2011)

For Rebecca Jung, the decision between being a dancer and an engineer may have finally been settled on the day when she proclaimed aloud, in her college dance history class at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, that Pilobolus was the company she wanted to dance with. Her characteristic determination carried her from there to becoming one of the six dancers in Pilobolus in only a few years. Along the way she performed with Phoenix Repertory, Naked Feet, Forrest Collection, and Nina Weiner. 

After seven years with Pilobolus, and collaborating in the creation of 10 original roles, she continued performing in pieces by Austin Hartel, Valerio Cesio, Lisa Giobbi, Doug Hamby, and in the hula troupe Halau i Ka Pono. She also taught master classes and helped to coordinate New York’s Fashion Week, up until three months before she succumbed to cancer in September.

However, it was with Pilobolus (1990–97) that Jung secured an indelible place in the dance world. She exhibited a formidable, but always exquisite, strength onstage. With her consummate precision and supple body, her dancing transformed time and gravity into seemingly unnecessary concerns. Perhaps the engineer hadn’t been replaced after all.

Becky was both an accomplished artist and a hometown girl. She had a quick, nothing-to-hide smile and she spoke her mind—irreverent humor and particularities sounding delightful through her hint of a Baltimore accent. Even from her hospital bed, Becky was funny. She would recount cheeky anecdotes to her lifelong friends, then suddenly spritz perfume into the air. “Fressshhh,” she’d say, putting down the bottle. She managed, even in the end, to transform time and gravity into seemingly unnecessary concerns. Since her passing, an ancient haiku keeps coming to mind:

sings all day,

and day not long enough

—Rosalynde LeBlanc



Rebecca Jung with John-Mario Sevilla of Pilobolus in 2003. Photo by John Kane/Silver Sun Studio.



Sergei Berezhnoi (1949–2011)

A leading dancer with the Kirov Ballet for more than two decades and a beloved coach at Boston Ballet and the Kirov, Sergei Berezhnoi died in August. The Odessa native received his early training in Kiev, and joined the Kirov after graduating from the Leningrad State Choreographic Institute (now the Vaganova Academy) in 1970. He performed leading roles in many of the classics, including La Sylphide, The Sleeping Beauty, La Bayadère, and Swan Lake. His frequent partners included Irina Kolpakova and his wife, Tatiana Terekhova. In the 1990s, he became a teacher and coach of the Kirov company’s men.

In 1998, he and Terekhova were named ballet masters at Boston Ballet. After five years, he returned to St. Petersburg and the stage, appearing in Noah Gelber’s The Golden Age in 2006. In his last stage appearance, he danced the role of Karenin in Ratmansky’s new production of Anna Karenina, to Ulyana Lopatkina’s Anna, in 2010.