September 8, 2003 by

Nina Fonaroff


Categories: Artists

Nina Fonaroff, a dancer in the Martha Graham company, died on Aug. 14. Cause of death was not released. She was 89.
As a child, Fonaroff played the violin and piano, acted and painted. Her first exposure to dance, however, came when she saw the Russian Vaudeville perform. She immediately signed up for ballet lessons.
After studying at the School of American Ballet and spending the summer of 1936 with Martha Graham, Fonaroff was asked to join the Martha Graham Troupe. She was a soloist in the company from 1937 to 1946, and appeared in several productions, including “American Document,” “Every Soul Is a Circus” and “Appalachian Spring.”
She began teaching the Graham technique at Sarah Lawrence College a year after she was accepted into the company. This experience would serve her well in 1946 when she became a teacher and choreographer. She launched Nina Fonaroff and Company, and choreographed “Mr. Puppet” for Alicia Markova and Anton Dolin, which is believed to be the first work to be created for classical dancers by a contemporary dance choreographer.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Fonaroff taught choreography at the London School of Contemporary Dance.

4 Responses to Nina Fonaroff

  1. Lyn Paton

    We helped Nina as her sight deteriorated and she was grappling with adaptive technology to write her book. Both Joe, my husband, and I were extremely fond of her, we have fond memories of visiting her and drinking splendid black coffee. We were so sad to hear of her passing.
    Lyn Paton

  2. Laura Hays

    I was a student of Nina’a at London school of Contemporary Dance 1972-1974. She was very kind and supportive of me.
    I will miss her and remember her fondly.
    laura hays

  3. Stuart Hodes

    I first met Nina when she came to a Martha Graham rehearsal to help the women remember some of the choreography. In the 1950s she rehearsed at my dance studio in NYC working on a dance titled “LAZARUS.” I spoke to her once on the telephone, NYC to London about six years ago. She left many who love her. Stuart Hodes

  4. Anna-Liisa Törrönen

    I was a choreography student of Nina in Stockholm 1986-89. After the studies I lost the connection to her, even if I often thought to visit her in London, this never happened. Yet- what happened -her thoughts and our conversations stay in my memories for ever! Now, years later, I wonder if she wrote the book she was planning. If somebody knows the answer, pls let me know. Anna-Liisa Törrönen

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