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Bob Avian, Tony-Winning Choreographer of A Chorus Line and More, Dies at 83

Avian also worked on Dreamgirls, Miss Saigon, and many other productions.

Bob Avian
(© David Gordon)

Bob Avian, the Tony-winning choreographer of A Chorus Line, Ballroom, Miss Saigon, and a host of other productions, has died at the age of 83 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Avian passed after suffering cardiac arrest, not related to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

Born in New York City on December 26, 1937, Avian received his BA from Boston University College of Fine Arts and also studied at the Boston Ballet School. He danced in the original Broadway ensembles of West Side Story (playing Indio), Funny Girl (opposite Barbra Streisand), and Henry, Sweet Henry.

Henry, Sweet Henry marked the first show of Avian's partnership with choreographer Michael Bennett, though the two met as dancers a tour of West Side Story. He became an integral part of Bennett's productions for the next two decades, serving as assistant choreographer and assistant director for projects ranging from Promises, Promises and Coco to Company and Follies. He won his two Tonys for co-choreographing Bennett's productions of A Chorus Line and Ballroom. He was a lead producer on the original and national touring companies of Dreamgirls.

Avian worked with producer Cameron Mackintosh to choreograph the London premiere of Follies and the original West End and Broadway productions of Miss Saigon. His work also includes Martin Guerre, Putting It Together, The Witches of Eastwick, multiple revivals of A Chorus Line both on Broadway and the West End (notably documented in Every Little Step, a documentary about the 2006 Broadway production), and the recent production of Miss Saigon.

Avian is survived by husband Peter Pileski, sister Laura Nabedian, and several nieces and nephews. He wrote about his career in his 2020 memoir Dancing Man: A Broadway Choreographer's Journey, penned with Tom Santopietro. He spoke with TheaterMania about the book, and you can watch the interview below:

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