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Marian Horosko, Dancer and Advocate for the Art, Dies at 92

Her writing could be practical, as it was in those manuals, or lyrical, as in her book “Martha Graham: The Evolution of Her Dance Theory and Training,” a collection of interviews published in 1991 and revised in 2002. In the introduction, she noted that as a child Graham was influenced by stories told to her by her nurse and her family’s Japanese gardeners.

“Graham knew about witches, wee folk and the poetic mystery of things,” Ms. Horosko wrote. “Some called Martha a sorceress, in the Irish sense of having insight, intuition and the ability to command people to do her bidding. Others said she was a witch. She was witty and scholarly, had an extremely flexible body, was mentally disciplined, and was small but powerful, approachable to the earnest but distant to the novice, quiet yet eloquent, simple yet complex.”

Marian Anna Horosko was born in Cleveland on Aug. 4, 1925, to Louis Horosko, an upholsterer, and the former Marian Gromand.


Ms. Horosko in an undated photograph. Besides dancing for ballet companies, she performed on Broadway in “Oklahoma!” and in the movie “An American in Paris.”

The Beverly Glen Studio

She was a dancer from a young age, making her debut at 12 with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. She studied at the Juilliard School and the School of American Ballet.

Before joining the Metropolitan Opera’s ballet corps, Ms. Horosko appeared on Broadway in the ensemble of “Oklahoma!” and in two musical revues. She also appeared as a dancer in two 1951 movies: “Royal Wedding,” which starred Fred Astaire and Jane Powell, and “An American in Paris,” with Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron.

She was a soloist with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, but after moving to City Ballet she filled mostly character roles, Dr. Kupersmith said.

“Marian Horosko plays a quarrelsome flirt like a genuine comedian,” John Martin wrote in The New York Times in January 1957, reviewing a performance of Todd Bolender’s “Souvenirs” at City Center.

After her performing career ended in the early 1960s, she stayed connected to the dancing world through her writing, much of it for Dance Magazine. She was education editor there for many years, offering advice for dancers on how to care for their hair and their toe shoes as well as writing longer articles, including a series on “Teachers in the Russian Tradition.”

Ms. Horosko was also film curator of the Lincoln Center Dance Collection and produced and consulted on dance programs for television and radio. In the late 1960s she traveled to Cuba, where she produced a documentary with National Educational Television on the ballerina Alicia Alonso.

Ms. Horosko knew from personal experience the challenges dancers face both during their performing careers and after, and she made efforts to address them. In the 1980s she was an organizer of a group called Danse Coalition, formed in response to the problem of disappearing studio space in Manhattan; many studios were shuttering because of high rents.

Also in the 1980s, she was among the founders of the Performing Arts Center for Health in New York, a clinic devoted to the physical and mental health needs of dancers and former dancers.

“We want to be able to help dancers to get help, and get it right away, from doctors who won’t just tell them to ‘stay off their feet,’ ” she said in a 1982 interview with The Times.

Another driving force in that nonprofit venture was Dr. Kupersmith, whom Ms. Horosko had known when they were both City Ballet dancers, and who became a psychiatrist after her performing career. Dr. Kupersmith said that after she and Ms. Horosko reconnected, they would often talk about dancers’ needs and the obstacles facing them.

“She would always bring a tape recorder wherever she went, and she would tape our conversations,” Dr. Kupersmith recalled.

In 1987 those tapes formed the basis of a book by the two of them, “The Dancer’s Survival Manual: Everything You Need to Know About Being a Dancer … Except How to Dance.” A second edition was published in 2009 with a new subtitle, “Everything You Need to Know From the First Class to Career Change.”

Ms. Horosko’s other books included “May O’Donnell: Modern Dance Pioneer” (2005).

“Marian Horosko was compellingly sensible and humane in her writing on dance, glamorous yet pragmatic, with an encyclopedic passion for the art,” Jennifer Dunning, a former dance critic for The Times, wrote in an email. “To spend even a brief time in her company was to be charmed and fascinated by the way her mind worked and the way, after a ballet debut at 12, she never stopped exploring dance.”

Ms. Dunning wrote the foreword to the May O’Donnell book.

Ms. Horosko leaves no immediate survivors.

Her interest in the postcareer health needs of dancers may have been understandable. Dena Moss, her estate lawyer and longtime friend, said Ms. Horosko had had three knee replacements.

“She used to say, ‘If I don’t set off the metal detectors when I board an airplane, I won’t get on it,’ ” Ms. Moss said.

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