Zena Rommett, the creator of Floor-Barre, died in November at age 90. A pioneer of injury prevention and rehabilitation, Rommett danced on Broadway in Billy Rose’s Seven Lively Arts with Alicia Markova and Anton Dolin, and she toured Europe with the United States Overseas (USO), the Radio City Rockettes Corps de Ballet and the Rutloff Trio. She started her teaching career at Robert Joffrey’s American Ballet Center for three years before opening her own NYC studio known as Oasis of Dance. There she originated Floor-Barre, training dancers lying on their backs (as opposed to at the barre). The technique, which stresses alignment and muscle lengthening, earned her the respect of the medical profession. Rommett remained active, teaching her Floor-Barre technique at Steps on Broadway until just three months before her death.
Richard Ellis, who ran the Ellis-Du Boulay School of Ballet in Chicago, died in November at age 92. Ellis danced with the Vic-Wells Ballet in London (which became the Sadler’s Wells Company) and then The Royal Ballet, partnering with greats such as Margot Fonteyn and Moira Shearer. He came to Chicago with his wife, ballerina Christine Du Boulay, in 1950 to found their school, where they taught together for 40 years.