NEW YORK -- Antonina Tumkovsky, a longtime teacher at the School of American Ballet who trained future dancers for the New York City Ballet, died Friday at the Tolstoy Foundation Nursing Home in Valley Cottage, N.Y., a school spokeswoman said yesterday. She was 101.
A DVD about her disciplinary teaching method was promoted by the school as "crucial in preparing dancers for the Balanchine repertory."
George Balanchine founded the School of American Ballet. He hired Miss Tumkovsky on the spot in 1949 when she applied for a teaching position.
She was one of the few faculty members who for many years conducted the auditions for prospective pupils.
"She taught at least three generations of dancers and taught at all levels," Kay Mazzo, one of her former students, told The
Unlike Balanchine, Miss Tumkovsky was a product of later Soviet-era training, and she focused on a dancer's stamina, energy, and precision.
"Dancers knew that if they could get through her extremely demanding class, they could take on the most technically difficult roles onstage," said Mazzo, a former City Ballet star who heads the school faculty with Peter Martins, the balletmaster in chief of City Ballet.
Born in Kiev, Miss Tumkovsky became a soloist in the Kiev Ballet. She moved to Berlin during World War II and immigrated to New York in 1949. She retired in 2003.