Vera Zorina, Ballet Dancer Who Helped Bring Classical Dance to Musicals, Dead at 86

Obituaries   Vera Zorina, Ballet Dancer Who Helped Bring Classical Dance to Musicals, Dead at 86
Vera Zorina, the ballet dancer and actress who was an artist in the fervent years when art and showbiz were being merged in American musical theatre, died April 9 at her home in Santa Fe, NM, according to The New York Times.

Ms. Zorina appeared in London and on Broadway in works choreographed by her first husband, George Balanchine, whose classical ballet was sometimes shoe-horned and sometimes elegantly integrated into jazzy American musicals. Among her Broadway credits are Irving Berlin's Louisiana Purchase (1940), Rodgers and Hart's I Married an Angel (1941), Dream With Music (1944), The Tempest (1945), and a revival of Rodgers and Hart's On Your Toes (1954).

Ms. Zorina, a Berlin native, was 86. Her second husband, Goddard Lieberson, the CBS Records executive responsible for preserving Broadway scores on cast albums, predeceased her. According to the Times, she and her third husband, harpsichordist Paul Wolfe, who survives her, moved to Santa Fe in 1990. She was an opera director in her later years.

In London, Ms. Zorina played the sexy Russian lead in On Your Toes, dancing "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue," a masterwork by Rodgers and Balanchine. She reprised the role almost 20 years later in the Broadway revival. She also played the role in the 1939 move version of the show that gave the world "There's a Small Hotel."

Her movie appearances include "The Goldwyn Follies" (1938) and the film version of "Louisiana Purchase" (1941), "Follow the Boys" (1944) and "Lover Come Back" (1946), among other pictures.

She was born Eva Brigitta Hartwig to a Norwegian mother and a German father, who were both singers. Ms. Zorina took up dance as a child. Her first stage appearance was as a fairy in A Midsummer Night's Dream directed by Max Reinhardt, in Berlin. She later danced with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Her autobiography, "Zorina," was published in 1986. She and Lieberson had two sons, Jonathan, who died in 1989, and composer Peter Lieberson, of Santa Fe. She is also survived by three granddaughters.

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