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Jan Collum, 82, who established the performing group that evolved into the Tacoma City Ballet, died August 18 in Tacoma, Washington. She will be remembered for her artistic direction, her choreography, and her teaching, which spanned almost six decades.

"Miss Jan," as she was called, was born Mary Jane Boles in 1919 in Omaha, Nebraska. She began taking dance classes at age 10 in Seattle, after the family moved there. By age 16, she was regularly performing up to four shows a day at Seattle's Pantages Theatre while attending high school. Her dance training included study at the San Francisco Ballet School, after which she toured North America in musicals.

She married Lester Collum and followed him to his army post in Tokyo, where she became an assistant to dancer/choreographer Michio Ito. She taught and choreographed for the Kamaki Ballet and the Tokyo Ballet, and produced the first Les Sylphides in Tokyo, according to Tacoma City Ballet Artistic Director Erin Ceragioli.

After the war, she returned to the Seattle area, where she taught ballet at Cornish College of the Arts and established the Jan Collum School of Classical Ballet in Tacoma. She developed a performing company, eventually known as the Tacoma City Ballet, which attained regional prominence.

Collum received awards from Tacoma Allied Arts, the Tacoma Arts Commission, and the City of Tacoma. A founding member of Regional Dance America, she was known as a tireless, firm, patient, and gentle teacher, according to Ceragioli. Her ballet classes were beautifully constructed, with a special emphasis on petit allegro and life lessons. The school still follows her syllabus. Students fondly remember her saying, "Dance until the end of the music." She also was known for having a good eye for costuming and other production elements.

She is survived by her son, Jeff; his wife, Jill Goodnight; a granddaughter, Fiona, of Seattle; a sister, Marilyn Manion, and family in Belmont, California.

Her life was celebrated at a memorial gathering on September 8 at the Tacoma City Ballet studio.

--Gigi Berardi

Jerry A. Reed Jr., of Birmingham, Alabama, formerly of Toledo, Ohio, died Thursday, August 30, 2001. Jerry Reed was best known as one of the greatest exponents of jazz tap in the Midwest. He was 87. Reed learned traditional southern jazz-tap dance from his grandfather, the Rev. E.W. Williams, who was a tap dancer before entering the ministry.

In the late 1920s, Reed teamed up with hometown tap dancer Melvin Caswell and performed at many local events around Birmingham; he later joined forces with Henry King, a friend from the neighborhood. They tapped together in high school events and at local functions held at Miles College.

In Toledo, Reed taught at The Bobby Lockett School of Dance and the Common Space Center for Creativity, and performed at many local events. He was a regular at Rusty's Jazz Cafe with jazz pianist Eddie Abrams and at Union Two in Detroit, Michigan. He also formed The Locketts, a tap-dance trio of advanced students from The Bobby Lockett School of Dance. They toured the Midwest extensively with Eddie Abrams.

Reed began each performance with a lecture and demonstration about the origin of tap dance and its progression from the plantations to the stage. He was a tap dancer of true timing. Hitting precise aggressive rhythm patterns with percussive attacks, his dynamic technique and lengthy performances reflected his dedication to tap dance.

Reed has been honored with the designation Master Artist in Tap Dance by the Ohio Arts Council's Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program. In 1986 he was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in Birmingham, Alabama. In 1992 he was honored at the National Performance Network in Columbus, Ohio, with a Governor's Proclamation. Reed is cited by the Library of Congress; he received the Ohio Governor's Award in the Arts in 1993; in 1997 the Common Space Center for Creativity named their auditorium in his honor, and in 1999, the Art Tatum African American Resource Center of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library honored his career on National Tap Dance Day. The Main Library of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, Department of Local History and Genealogy, holds the Jerry A. Reed Jr. Tap Dance Collection.

--D'Lana Lockett

Dancer and master teacher Nicholas Orloff, 86, a longtime presence on the Manhattan dance scene, died August 14, 2001, at the Tolstoy Foundation Nursing Home in Valley Cottage, New York. Trained by Olga Preobrajenska and Victor Gsovsky in Paris, the native of Petrograd, Russia, inspired students with his wit, insight, and love of dance.

"He was specific about pointed feet and turnout, but didn't dwell on technique the way other teachers did," recalls former student Jennifer Kronenberg, a Miami City Ballet principal. "He taught us to become the role you're dancing and to `go for it' onstage."

Orloff's name is synonymous with the virtuosic "Drummer" solo in David Lichine's Graduation Ball (1940) created for the Original Ballet Russe. While at New York's Ballet Theatre, he was lauded as Mercutio in Antony Tudor's Romeo and Juliet (1943) and was recruited by Marquis George de Cuevas for his Grand Ballet's 1949 production of Petrouchka. A starring role in a command performance of Coppelia for the Netherlands's royal family highlighted his career.

Besides performing with Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Sadler's Wells, and Roland Petit's company, Orloff appeared on Broadway, garnering accolades in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Pipe Dream (1955) and in the revival of On Your Toes (1954), where he was typecast (by George Balanchine) as a Russian dancer. He starred with Violet Verdy in Dream Ballerina (1950), a French film about a dancer with three beaus.

Orloff was an innovative dancer who created many roles but disdained modern dance, notes his son, photographer Alex Orloff. "The apogee of his career was in the late 1940s and '50s; after that he directed the Norwegian Opera Ballet and later went to the Berlin Opera and to Rome." In addition, he worked with companies in Denver, Cleveland, Nashville, and Spokane.

In the early 1960s, "he was in great shape and taught in the spirit of the old Russians. He put on his boots and we could see what a great dancer he had been," remembers former character student Florence Geise, artistic director of Pennsylvania's Schuylkill Ballet Theatre. "He had Slavic features, very handsome. His classes were lively and colorful." After his "Sunday Specials" (two-hour technique classes), his students would gather in a bar. "He would hold court and pontificate. My father was a great philosopher," says Alex Orloff.

Until he was curtailed by a major stroke three years ago, Orloff taught at City Center, Broadway Arts, and at Teresa Aubel's Once Upon a Time studios in Richmond Hill, New York. "He wanted to work on epaulement, which he felt that the children needed. He was very spunky, very cantankerous, and didn't always tell you what you wanted to hear," says Aubel, one of Orloff's former students. Nevertheless, sometimes he did--during a moment of student angst, she said, "He came up from behind me and said, `Don't lose your fantasy.' I was shocked that he knew."

Once asked by Aubel's husband, Mark, how he wanted to be remembered, Orloff answered, "Dancer."

--Karen Dacko
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Title Annotation:dancers, United States
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Obituary
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2001
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