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Stephanie Reinhart, 58; Head of Dance Festival

September 26, 2002|LEWIS SEGAL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Stephanie Reinhart, an influential, award-winning arts administrator who co-directed the American Dance Festival in Durham, N.C., and dance programming at the Kennedy Center in Washington, died Monday of leukemia in New York City. She was 58.

Born in Washington, D.C., she specialized in cultural history at the University of Wisconsin and graduated with honors. She received a fellowship for graduate studies at George Washington University, and later attended the Harvard University Summer Institute in Arts Administration. She joined the National Endowment for the Arts in 1969 as administrator of dance and education programs and first worked for the American Dance Festival in 1977, the year she married festival director Charles L. Reinhart.

In 1980, the Reinharts made a trip to Asia to search for dance companies to present at the festival and, two years later, gave the U.S. its first look at the nightmarish, neo-Expressionist Japanese idiom butoh. They followed this coup with a festival of five contemporary French companies the next year and showcased China's first modern dance company in 1991.

Stephanie Reinhart became co-director of the American Dance Festival in 1993, and the couple were named directors of dance at the Kennedy Center three years later. Their activities at the latter institution included the innovative, multi-company Balanchine Festival held in 2000. But perhaps their greatest impact came from the modern dance workshops they organized in Japan, South Korea and Russia--helping establish contemporary American styles of movement in cultures with very different dance traditions.

Reinhart also served as a panelist on arts councils in Kentucky and North Carolina, worked on the boards of the Martha Clarke and Laura Dean dance companies, and contributed articles to the books "East Meets West in Dance: Voices in the Cross-Cultural Dialogue" and "Dancing Female: Lives and Issues of Women in Contemporary Dance." In 1993, she was awarded a Fulbright research grant to study the history of modern dance in Argentina.

This year, Reinhart was honored by the French government with the title Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres for her contributions to French dance. She also won an Emmy as an executive producer of the PBS special "Free to Dance," a history of black dance in America.

Besides her husband, Reinhart is survived by her daughter, Ariane Malia Reinhart; her mother, Florence Keren; three stepsons, Adam, Taylor and Scott; and three step-grandchildren, Chelsea, Taylor and Jeremy. In her memory, the American Dance Festival has established an ADF Stephanie Reinhart Fund for New Works and Scholarships, 1697 Broadway, Room 900, New York, NY 10019.

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