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Subject: Stephanie Reinhart, Fostered New Trends in Dance

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Date Posted: September 25, 2002 11:21:29 EDT

Stephanie Reinhart, age 58, died of Leukemia, says her husband Charles L. Reinhart. An innovative arts administrator who had an international impact in promoting new trends in contemporary dance as co-director of the American Dance Festival and as co-artistic director for dance at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, lived in Durham, N.C., and Manhattan.

Ms. Reinhart usually worked in tandem with her husband, who became the festival's director in 1969 after a pioneering career, begun in the 1950's, in producing and managing modern dance companies as well as developing dance projects for the National Endowment for the Arts and State Department cultural exchange programs.

The Reinharts' joint activities included the highly praised Balanchine Festival two years ago at the Kennedy Center and "Free to Dance," a documentary film for public television about black dance for which the Reinharts just won an Emmy Award as its executive producers. They commissioned many works by both novice and veteran choreographers, including Paul Taylor and Merce Cunningham.

Ms. Reinhart was a staff member at the National Endowment for the Arts in its early years and joined the American Dance Festival in 1977. When Martha Clarke, the choreographer and director, left Pilobolus Dance Theater in the early 1980's to form her own dance company, Crows Nest, Ms. Reinhart served as her manager, consultant and fund-raiser. With her sharp analytic eye and her tireless support of original talent, Ms. Reinhart was also president of the board of directors of Laura Dean Dancers and Musicians.

Ms. Reinhart placed equally consistent emphasis on preserving the traditions of modern dance. She established a national touring program for the Dayton Contemporary Dance Theater's revivals of rarely performed classics by black choreographers.

Ms. Reinhart and her husband, who married in 1977, were indefatigable in seeking out new choreographers from abroad. They were the first to introduce Butoh, the experimental Japanese genre with apocalyptic themes, to the United States. Together they braved a windy outdoor performance on a cold mountain top in Japan to see Dai Rakuda Kan, the Butoh group they presented at the American Dance Festival's home at Duke University in 1982.

The Reinharts also presented the Japanese-born neo-Butoh performers Eiko and Koma. "Stephanie was very personal and encouraged us artists to be personal as well," this avant-garde duo said in a statement on Monday. "We know there are many dance artists in the world who were as encouraged as we were by her quiet enthusiasm. Stephanie strongly believed what dance can deliver. Her belief made all of us, coming from different countries and different cultures, into one family."

Similarly, the Reinharts were the first to familiarize Americans with the nascent French contemporary dance boom after they traveled to France to select five troupes for the festival in 1983, and Ms. Reinhart was awarded the medal of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters this month for her contributions to furthering dance in France and throughout the world.

Ms. Reinhart frequently visited Europe and Latin America to see choreographers unfamiliar in the United States. The Reinharts' often-stated belief was that modern dance was a prime indigenous American art form that spread worldwide in the last three decades.

Convinced that young dancers abroad were interested in studying the idioms of modern dance, they organized workshops in Japan, South Korea and Russia. They also helped establish the Guangdong Modern Dance Company, China's first modern dance troupe.

Unlike her husband, Ms. Reinhart did not begin her career specifically in dance but in broader area of arts administration. Born in Washington, she graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin in 1966. She received a fellowship for graduate work in American literary and cultural history at George Washington University and attended the Harvard University Summer Institute in Arts Administration in 1974.

After the National Endowment for the Arts was established in 1965, Ms. Reinhart became part of the first generation of professionally trained arts administrators. She joined the Endowment in 1969 and was program administrator for its Dance and Education Programs, also working in the planning and development of the Artists-in-Schools Program.

In 1996 the Reinharts were named Artistic Directors for Dance at the Kennedy Center. They inaugurated an energetic and innovative commissioning program for collaborations by jazz composers and modern dance companies with funds from the Doris Duke Charitable Trust.

In addition to her husband, Ms. Reinhart is survived by her daughter, Ariane M. Reinhart of New York; her mother, Florence Keren of Washington; and three stepsons, Taylor, of Los Angeles; Adam, of Honolulu; and Scott, of Geneseo, N.Y.

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