Zina Bethune, Dancer Who Worked With Disabled, Dies at 66

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14 Feb 2012

Zina Bethune, a dancer and choreographer who worked with children who had disabilities, died Feb. 10. She was 66.



Ms. Bethune, who was an animal lover, had stopped her car on Forest Lawn Drive in Los Angeles, and was getting out to check on what she thought was an injured possum when she was struck by two vehicles. The impact of the first car threw her into the other lane, where she was run over by a second car. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Ms. Bethune, a New Yorker who took ballet classes at the George Ballanchine School for American Ballet from the age of six, was the artistic director and choreographer for the Theatre Bethune, a nonprofit organization she founded in Los Angeles in 1980. The company has toured internationally.

Bethune also founded Infinite Dreams, a dance and performance outreach program for children with disabilities. The program has worked in schools and community centers throughout Southern California.

Ms. Bethune herself had dealt with disabilities throughout her childhood, including scoliosis, lymphedema and dysplastic hips. Doctors told her she couldn't dance, but she pursued her passion anyway. By age 11, she was dancing in The Most Happy Fella on Broadway.

Having only felt good when she danced, she thought, through Infinite Dreams, dancing would have the same effect on other children.

In 1992, she assumed the role of the ballerina Elizaveta Grushinskaya in the Broadway musical Grand Hotel.

She costarred in the 1962-65 TV series "The Nurses" (later retitled "The Doctors and the Nurses").

Bethune is survived by her husband, Sean Feeley; and her mother, Ivy.