Annabelle Lyon

Annabelle Lyon, who danced with some of the most important companies in the formative years of 20th-century American ballet, died in November 2011 at her home in Mansfield, Massachusetts at age 95. The daughter of Russian immigrants, Lyon was born in New York in 1916, but grew up in Memphis where she took her first ballet lessons. She was awarded a scholarship to the prestigious New York school of the choreographer Michel Fokine, so she lived with relatives in Brooklyn and commuted to Fokine's Manhattan studio. In 1935, Lyon joined the American Ballet, George Balanchine’s first U.S.-based company, and appeared with Lincoln Kirstein's Ballet Caravan the following year. In 1939 she became a charter member of Ballet Theater (now American Ballet Theater) and she was the company's first ballerina to dance the title role in Giselle. She spent the summer of 1941 at Jacob's Pillow with Ballet Theater, performing in several programs and rehearsing with Antony Tudor as he began creating his masterpiece, Pillar of Fire. She returned to the Pillow stage in 1951, appearing as a soloist in Tudor's Dark Elegies and in the premiere of a new work. She later appeared on Broadway, married a businessman, and raised a family.
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