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Carl Wolz, 69; Founded World Dance Alliance

January 08, 2002|LEWIS SEGAL | TIMES DANCE CRITIC

Carl Wolz, an influential choreographer, scholar, organizer and advocate for dance, died Wednesday in New York City after a long battle with cancer. He was 69.

Although he choreographed more than 60 works and wrote respected books and articles on Asian dance, Wolz is perhaps best known for founding the organization that became the World Dance Alliance, and serving as its president and then executive director from 1988 to his death.

Located at Wolz's home in New York City, the alliance represented "the first effort to create networks of individuals and organizations in the dance field across the world," said Judy Mitoma, director of the Center for Intercultural Performance at UCLA, "and nobody was more committed to this idea than Carl Wolz. He was a fantastic administrator, always supporting dance throughout the world."

Wolz was born in St. Louis, and after serving in the Navy during the Korean War, majored in art history at the University of Chicago. After dance studies there, he went to the Juilliard School in New York and began dancing with the Lucas Hoving Company, a New York City modern dance ensemble.

In 1962, a fellowship allowed him to study Asian dance at the University of Hawaii. After joining the faculty at the university, he radically expanded the scope of its dance division, then taught in Japan. In 1983, he became dean of dance at the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, serving there for 10 years.

Under his administration, it hosted annual international festivals involving dance academies, and from these grew the idea of a World Dance Alliance, an expression of Wolz's "philosophy of using dance to unify the human race," in the words of Bonnie Oda Homsey, a former student of Wolz's and now the artistic director of the Los Angeles-based American Repertory Dance Company.

In 1993, Wolz began a five-year professorship in the graduate program of the Japan Women's College of Physical Education, after which he returned to the United States.

He received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the East West Center in Honolulu in 1992; the Professional Achievement Award from the University of Chicago in 1995; and an award for outstanding leadership in dance research from the Congress on Research in Dance in 1995.

He is survived by his brother, Lee Wolz of Houston. A memorial service in New York will be scheduled later this year. His family requests that instead of flowers, donations be sent to the Carl Wolz Fund at the Dance Notation Bureau, 151 W. 30th St., Suite 202, New York, NY 10001.

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