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Donald Mahler, Talented Ballet Choreographer, Dies at 88

Donald Mahler, an outstanding ballet dancer and choreographer for the Metropolitan Opera, who served as director of the company’s own dance troupe, and who is also known internationally for his hit ballets Antony Tudor, died on January 25 in Roslyn Heights, NY, on Long Island. He is 88 years old.

His sisters and the only immediate survivors, Judith Dickinson and Johanna Loeb, confirmed the death. They said he was failing in health and died at Miss Loeb’s home, where he had moved last year.

In a completely unusual career, Mr. Mahler was able to choreograph an abbreviated version of “Cinderella” for children to recreate “Echo of the Trumpet”, a 1963 work of his Tudor on the cruelty of war.

One of the greatest ballet choreographers of the 20th century and a founding member of the American Ballet Theatre, Mr. Tudor is not a caterer for those looking for upbeat entertainment. However, his dark ballets are of vital importance, as Clive Barnes noted in a Dance Magazine review of Mr. Mahler’s staging of “Echo of the Trumpets” for Ballet West in Salt Lake City in 2006.

Mr. Barnes wrote: “Mahler did a great job of not only recreating but defining the choreography. He added that the ballet’s impact remains strong, “making Mahler’s revival all the more meaningful in keeping this 20th-century masterpiece – an important piece to the Tudor catalog.” – alive and active.”

Mr. Mahler also spent many years with the Ballet Theater in New York, a highly regarded small company founded and directed by Diana Byer to promote new productions and a revival of rare old ones.

Byer said in a phone interview that in training her young dancers, Mr Mahler “combined purposeful seriousness with a contagious childish wonder,” adding : “He was very witty. And he taught these dancers how to dive into a role.”

Mr. Tudor is Mr. Mahler’s art advisor. But Ms. Byer says that for personal guidance, Mr. Mahler dedicated himself to the teachings of Indian spiritual master Meher Baba, who passed away in 1969. (Among several other American dancers. who became Baba’s followers were Viola Farber and Peter Saul of Merce Cunningham’s many of them, including Mr. Mahler, studied ballet in New York with Margaret Craske, who lived in the Baba community in India. during the Second World War.)

Like many ballet dancers, Donald Freisinger had another name before starting his career as Donald Mahler. He was born on February 16, 1933 in Brooklyn. His mother, Frances (Abramowitz) Freisinger, was a homemaker. His father, Eugene Freisinger, ran a wool processing business.

Donald moved to Manhattan with his family when he was a teenager. There, he entered the prestigious High School of Music and Arts (now LaGuardia High School of Music & Arts and Performance) as an aspiring painter.

An arts scholarship brought him to Syracuse University. However, he said, his discovery of choreography led him to give up and move back to New York, where he was accepted to the Metropolitan Opera Ballet School. Mr. Tudor and Ms. Craske were his teachers there, and Mr. Tudor introduced him to Canada’s National Ballet Theatre, where Mr. Mahler had been for 5 years.

He returned to New York and began dancing in Metropolitan soap operas in 1962. He retired as a dancer in 1980 and was appointed director of the show. Metropolitan Opera House in 1982.

He choreographed for that company and for many operas until 1986. A second career opened up for him when Antony Tudor Ballet Trust invite him on stage or coach Tudor to work for companies around the world.

When asked to define his faith in his mentor, Mr. Mahler once replied: “Tudor ballets are really about people. He goes deep into what makes people tick, and he wants that truth.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/01/arts/dance/donald-mahler-dead.html Donald Mahler, Talented Ballet Choreographer, Dies at 88

Fry Electronics Team

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