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Michael Smuin, 68, award-winning choreographer

Michael Smuin served as coartistic director of the San Francisco Ballet before he founded his own dance company. Michael Smuin served as coartistic director of the San Francisco Ballet before he founded his own dance company. (Lacy Atkins/San Francisco Chronicle via Associated Press/File 2003)

SAN FRANCISCO -- Michael Smuin, an award-winning choreographer who served as coartistic director of the San Francisco Ballet and later founded his own dance company, died Monday. He was 68.

Mr. Smuin collapsed during rehearsal with his company, Smuin Ballet, and died apparently of a heart attack, according to company spokesman David Perry. He was pronounced dead at San Francisco General Hospital, Perry said.

"We are all deeply saddened and shocked," said Dwight Hutton, Smuin Ballet's managing director. "However, he died doing precisely what he loved to do."

A native of Missoula, Mont., Mr. Smuin danced with the American Ballet Theatre and the San Francisco Ballet before beginning a second career as a choreographer at age 27. Mr. Smuin served as codirector of San Francisco Ballet from 1973 to 1985 and returned to the city nearly a decade later to found Smuin Ballet.

His ballets included "The Catharine Wheel," "Pulcinella Variations," "Romeo and Juliet, "The Christmas Ballet," "Shinju," "Zorro," "Frankie and Johnny." and "Fly Me to the Moon."

During his career in film and television and on Broadway, Mr. Smuin won a Tony Award for his choreography of the Broadway revival "Anything Goes," and was nominated in 1981 for his co choreography and direction of "Sophisticated Ladies." He received an Emmy Award in 1984 for "Great Performances: Dance in America." His film credits included "The Cotton Club," "Rumble Fish," and "A Walk in the Clouds."

Mr. Smuin leaves his son, Shane, and his brothers, Stephen and Douglas.

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