Harold Christensen; Helped Pioneer San Francisco Ballet

Harold Christensen, who with his two brothers was a key figure behind the San Francisco Ballet, died Monday at his home in San Anselmo, Calif., at the age of 84.

Christensen and brothers, William and Lew, received the Dance Magazine Award in 1973 and the Capezio Annual Dance Award in 1984.

The Capezio award called the three "Western pioneers," saying they "grew out of American vernacular dance" and "made ballet prosper wherever they settled."

William Christensen was the founder of the San Francisco Ballet, while Lew Christensen was the company's artistic director. Lew Christensen's "Filling Station" has been cited by some as the first all-American ballet.

Harold Christensen, who retired in 1975, was an ex-dancer with the old American Ballet in New York City who directed the San Francisco Ballet School for 33 years.

"Almost single-handedly, he was responsible for the development of several generations of dancers in this company and soloists for companies all over the world," said Nancy Johnson Carter, manager of the ballet school and a former pupil.

Christensen, a native of Brigham City, Utah, studied dance with his uncle, Peter Christensen, in Salt Lake City and with George Balanchine at the School of American Ballet in New York.

He danced there with his future wife, Ruby Asquith, in vaudeville with his brothers and in "The Great Waltz" on Broadway.

His survivors include his wife, his brother, William, a son and two daughters.

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