Antonia Tumkovsky, ballet instructor, dies

Jan. 24, 2007 at 7:09 PM

NEW YORK, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Antonia Tumkovsky, a teacher at the School of American Ballet for 54 years, has died at 101 in a Valley Cottage, N.Y., nursing home where she lived.

Known for demanding the best from her students, Tumkovsky was featured on a DVD that stressed her "particular style of teaching was crucial in preparing dancers for the Balanchine repertory," The New York Times said.

George Balanchine -- a founder of City Ballet and of the School of American Ballet -- hired Tumkovsky immediately when she applied for a teaching job in 1949. Unlike others from Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes and the Russian Imperial Ballet, Tumkovsky studied later Soviet-style training methods.

"She taught at least three generations of dancers and taught at all levels," said Kay Mazzo, a former City Ballet star trained by Tumkovsky, who currently heads the school faculty with Peter Martins, balletmaster-in-chief of City Ballet.

Tumkovsky, who died Friday, retired in 2003 at age 98.

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