Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Washington Times

Ralph Anton Hoffman, a former Broadway dancer and stage manager for the Washington National Ballet, died Dec. 4. He was 74.

Mr. Hoffman also was the longtime chief of Wolf Trap Farm Parks’ division of performing arts and was the artistic administrator of the Kirov Academy of Ballet in the District. He died of bone cancer.

Mr. Hoffman was born in Old Hickory, Tenn., to Ralph Anton Hoffman Sr. and Agnes Pratt Hoffman. He was educated by Jesuits at Canisius High School in Buffalo, N.Y., and received his bachelor’s degree from Bucknell University.

While in college, Mr. Hoffman appeared in drama club productions. After college, he fell in love with ballet and began taking lessons from Thalia Mara. He attended as many performances as he could, working odd jobs to pay for the tickets and lessons. In addition to dancing on Broadway, Mr. Hoffman danced with several companies, including the June Taylor dancers.

He came to the District to be stage manager for the National Ballet of Washington. When the company folded, he moved to Wolf Trap in 1971. While at Wolf Trap, Mr. Hoffman worked with some of the greatest performing artists of the past three decades. He retired from Wolf Trap in 1994. After retiring, Mr. Hoffman worked as a freelance lighting designer, sound man and stage manager at local theaters. He arrived in 1994 at the Kirov Academy, where he oversaw the technical side of the school’s two annual performances and served as an artistic adviser, administrator and career counselor to the students.

“Over the years, I have come to know Ralph as one of the most genuine, good-hearted, wise and generous people I have ever met,” said Michael Beard, the academy’s executive director. “His conscientious concern for the academy and his personal care and love for each of us was remarkable.”

Mr. Hoffman is survived by his wife, the former Ballet Russe ballerina Paula Tennyson; two daughters, Erica of Philadelphia, and Kira of Kirkwell, Orkney, Scotland; and a brother, Richard, of North Carolina.

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