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Ann Reinking, Tony-winning choreographer and actress, dies

New York Mayor Ed Koch gives a lift to Broadway dancer and actress Ann Reinking during a performance in 1987.
(Richard Drew / Associated Press)

Ann Reinking, the Tony Award-winning choreographer, actress and Bob Fosse collaborator who helped spread a cool, muscular hybrid of jazz and burlesque movement to Broadway and beyond, has died.

Reinking died Saturday while visiting family in Seattle, said her manager, Lee Gross. No cause of death was disclosed. She was 71.

Trained as a ballet dancer, Reinking was known for her bold style of dance, epitomized by her work in the revival of the Kander and Ebb musical “Chicago,” complete with fishnet stockings, chair dancing and plenty of pelvic thrusts. Reinking co-starred as Roxie Hart alongside Bebe Neuwirth’s Velma and created the choreography “in the style of Bob Fosse,” the show’s original director and choreographer, who died in 1987.

Reinking and Fosse worked together for 15 years and had a romantic relationship.

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Reinking’s work on “Chicago” earned her a Tony in 1997, as well as Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards. She replicated the choreography in productions in England, Australia, Austria, Sweden, the Netherlands and elsewhere.

The musical’s revival was first produced in a concert version at City Center’s “Encores” series in 1996, then moved to Broadway, where in 2011 it became the second-longest-running show in Broadway history.

“You know how you hear sometimes a woman goes into labor, and 10 minutes later she’s got this beautiful baby? You couldn’t believe that it was materializing in such a beautiful way,” she told the Associated Press in 2011 about the early days of the revival.

In 1998, she co-directed “Fosse,” a salute to the man who had the largest influence, both professionally and personally, on her life. He once called her “one of the finest dancers in the jazz-modern idiom.”

Her movie credits include “Annie” (1982), “Movie, Movie” (1978) and the documentary “Mad Hot Ballroom” (2005), which portrayed Reinking as a ballroom-dance competition judge for New York City kids. Reinking was portrayed by Margaret Qualley in the recent FX series “Fosse/Verdon.”


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