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Mari Kajiwara, 50; Professional Dancer in New York, Israel

January 14, 2002

Mari Kajiwara, 50, a leading modern dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the Ohad Naharin Dance Company and the Batsheva Dance Company of Israel, died of cancer Dec. 25 in Tel Aviv.

Born in New York City, Kajiwara attended its High School of Performing Arts and City College and performed successively with the Glen Tetley and Norman Walker dance companies before joining Ailey's troupe in 1970.

In her 14 years as a principal dancer and Ailey's assistant, she garnered such assessments from critics as "a stunning dancer" with "particular eloquence," "clarity" and "extraordinarily smooth technique and phrasing."

Kajiwara married dancer and choreographer Ohad Naharin in 1978, and in 1984 left Ailey to co-found the Ohad Naharin Dance Company.

The couple performed a series of duets, including "Haru No Umi," until they disbanded their company to return to Naharin's native Israel in 1990.

He became choreographer for the Batsheva Dance Company and she served as a featured dancer and rehearsal director.

During an American tour that stopped at Orange Coast College in 1990, Times dance critic Lewis Segal described Kajiwara as "the unforgettably serene former icon" of the Ailey company still demonstrating "a standard of metaphysical fluidity and involvement."

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