Ukrainian-native famous ballet dancer died in New York

13:32, 24 January 2007
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Antonina Tumkovsky, 101, trained future dancers for the New York City Ballet

Antonina Tumkovsky, 101, a longtime teacher at the School of American Ballet who trained future dancers for the New York City Ballet, died Friday at the Tolstoy Foundation Nursing Home in Valley Cottage, N.Y., said Sue Backman, a school spokeswoman, according to The LA Times. The cause of death was not given.

When Tumkovsky applied for a teaching position in 1949, school founder George Balanchine hired her on the spot.

For many years, she was one of the few faculty members who conducted auditions for prospective pupils.

Unlike Balanchine, she was a product of later Soviet-era training, focusing her attention on a dancer`s stamina, energy and precision.

"Dancers knew that if they could get through her extremely demanding class, they could take on the most technically difficult roles onstage," said Kay Mazzo, a former City Ballet star trained by Tumkovsky.

Born in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tumkovsky became a soloist with the Kiev Ballet. She moved to Berlin during World War II and immigrated to New York in 1949.

She retired in 2003.

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