Obituaries : Hugh Laing; Prominent Ballet Dancer, Costumer

Times Staff Writer

Hugh Laing, whose career as a dancer was so closely entwined with that of his longtime companion, choreographer Antony Tudor, that the two were considered a hyphenate in the world of ballet, died Tuesday.

Laing was 77 when he died at St. Luke’s Hospital in New York City of cancer.

Mikhail Baryshnikov, director of American Ballet Theater where Laing posted his most recent credits, called the Barbados-born dancer and costume designer “a vital part of the company’s heritage who through his work with Antony Tudor brought his artistry first to our audiences and then to our individual dancers.”


Like Tudor, Laing studied with Marie Rambert’s company in London as a youth and joined the London Ballet Club.

With the Ballet Rambert he created the first of many roles in Tudor ballets, among them “The Planets,” 1934; “The Descent of Hebe,” 1935; the legendary “Jardin aux Lilas,” 1936; “Gallant Assembly,” 1936, and “Dark Elegies,” 1937.

For Tudor’s London Ballet he did “Judgment of Paris,” “Gala Performance” (recently revived and staged locally last November) and “Soiree Musicale.”

When Tudor came to the United States, Laing followed, joining Ballet Theater in 1940, where for the first time he was featured in other than Tudor creations.

He danced in Mikhail Fokine’s “Bluebeard” in 1941, in Leonid Massine’s “Aleko” and in Agnes DeMille’s “Tally-Ho,” both in 1944.

But Laing was also doing Tudor creations during the same period, among them “Pillar of Fire,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Dim Luster” and “Undertow.”

In 1950 he again moved with Tudor, this time to the New York City Ballet Company where he was seen in Tudor’s “Lady of the Camellias.” With that company he also starred in some of George Balanchine ballets, including “Bayou” and “Prodigal Son.”

In more recent years he had turned to fashion photography and costume designing, assisting Tudor, who died a year ago, with occasional revivals of the ballets the two had made famous more than 50 years ago.