Friday, July 5, 1991 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

E-mail article     Print

Irina Nijinska, Ballet Promoter


LOS ANGELES - Irina Nijinska, a dancer and teacher who traveled the world to promote the ballets of her famous mother, choreographer Bronislava Nijinska, has died after suffering a stroke. She was 77.

Miss Nijinska died Tuesday in a hospital in Inglewood, her husband, Gibbs Raetz, said yesterday. Her ashes will be scattered at sea.

"Since she was rather well known around the ballet world, the ocean is about the best symbolical place we could think of" for the ashes, Raetz said. "It's universal, and its waters touch the shores of all the continents."

In the last months before her death she logged thousands of miles of travel, visiting New York, Paris, Taipei and Amsterdam, Raetz said.

In Amsterdam, she suffered a stroke and was admitted to a hospital May 29. She later was transferred to a hospital in Santa Monica, Calif., and moved for speech therapy to Daniel Freeman Memorial Hospital, where she died.

Her travels were devoted to keeping alive the masterpieces of her mother, considered to be among the top choreographers of the 20th century.

Miss Nijinska also was the niece of Vaslav Nijinsky, the iconoclastic Russian dancer whose choreography for "The Rite of Spring" sparked a riot at its Paris debut in 1913.

Miss Nijinska collaborated with the National Institute of the Arts in Taipei on a revival of her mother's "Les Noces." The Oakland Ballet, under Miss Nijinska's supervision, was the first American company to perform the dance, in 1981.

In New York, Miss Nijinska worked with the Feld Ballet, Joffrey Ballet and Dance Theater of Harlem to produce "Les Noces," an interpretation of a peasant wedding in epic proportion.

Born in Russia in 1913, Miss Nijinska moved with her mother from their revolution-torn country to Europe, traveling from there to South America and back.

After the outbreak of World War II they sailed to the United States from England, Raetz said. They were traveling with the Ballets Russes company established by Bronislava Nijinska's mentor, Serge Diaghilev.

The older Nijinska (1891-1972) established Nijinska's Hollywood Ballet Studio in 1940 in Los Angeles, where mother and daughter taught stars.

In 1946, Miss Nijinska married Raetz, an aerospace engineer who is now retired. They lived in Pacific Palisades.

In recent years, Miss Nijinska edited and translated part of her mother's autobiography and arranged several museum exhibits in her memory.

In addition to her husband, Miss Nijinska is survived by a son, George, of Denver, and a daughter, Natalie, of Long Beach, Calif.

Copyright (c) 1991 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


Get home delivery today!