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Ballet & Dance

Pauline Koner - a pioneer of modernity
 
Pauline Koner was born in 1912 in New York City to the family of Russian Jewish immigrants. Her father, Samuel Koner, was a prominent lawyer, noted in socially active circles of the time for the medical security plan he helped create for the Workmen's Circle, a Jewish socialist and benevolent organization.
 
After seeing Anna Pavlova in The Dying Swan, the young Koner made the decision to become a dancer and began training under Michel Fokine, later moving to the school of Angel Cansino. 
 
Because the lessons were quite pricey, and the family was not particularly rich, the girl's father bartered for lessons with his legal services.   
 
During the 1920s, Koner was a student of the Spanish dance form, as well as the more and more fashionable fusion of Asian and Western dance popularized by Japanese choreographers Michio Itō and Yeichi Nimura. No wonder that Koner's first choreographed work (performed in 1930 at the Guild Theater) was exactly such a fusion piece.
 
The ballerina started working as a soloist, specializing in modern Asian and Spanish dance, touring the world and visiting dozens of countries, including the Soviet Union (1934-36), where she not only danced, but also taught ballet. 
 
During that time, in 1939, she married Fritz Maher, who - uncharacteristic for ballet dancers and artists in general - stayed with Koner until his very death in 1972!
 
After the World War II she danced in several companies, including the José Limón's theater (1946-1960). After returning home, to America, Koner joined forces with Kitty Donner and developed 11 "Choreotones" for CBS television. She also produced stage shows for the legendary Roxy Theater and helped create several ice revues, including "Holiday on Ice". 
 
Pauline's many interests led her to make friends with Doris Humphrey - Koner even choreographed her best-known dance, The Farewell (1962), in honor of her friend.
 
Koner retired from active performing in 1972, and started teaching modern Western ballet in Asia, including Japan, Korea, India and Singapore. Later, in 1986, she returned home and became a regular lecturer at the famous New York's Juilliard School.
 
The ballerina died of old age on February 8, 2001 in Manhattan, NYC, leaving behind teachings and choreography that are recognized and used even now, especially her Elements of Performing course (1993), focused on performance elements such as "motivation, emotion, focus, dynamics and the use of props, fabrics, lights and sound".
 
Sources: 
Segal, Lewis (February 10, 2001). "P. Koner; Pioneer Modern Dancer". Los Angeles Times
Koner, Pauline (1989). Solitary Song. Duke University Press
 

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