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NEW YORK – Bob Avian, a Tony Award-winning choreographer who performed in some of Broadway’s most beloved and popular plays, including “Dreamgirls,” “A Chorus Line,” “Follies” and “Miss Saigon,” has passed away. He’d been 83.

Avian died of cardiac arrest at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Thursday, Matt Polk, head of the Polk & Co. theatrical advertising agency, said.

Tony-winner Tony Yazbeck on Twitter called Avian “a sweet and kind spirit who generously gave his creative talents to legendary works.” Marvin Hamlisch said: “His legacy will live on stage for years to come.”

 

Avian rose from a dancer in “West Side Story” and “Funny Girl” to work alongside such theater luminaries as Michael Bennett, Cameron Macintosh, Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Avian enjoyed a long professional relationship with Bennett, collaborating on such Bennett-choreographed works as “A Chorus Line,” “Promises, Promises,” “Coco,” “Company,” “Follies, “Seesaw” and “God’s Favorite,” as associate choreographer or assistant director.”

“For someone so talented, he remained remarkably modest about his own achievements on so many landmark musicals,” said Cameron Mackintosh in a statement. “He facilitated the genius of Michael Bennett and with every little step he took taught me more about the art of staging a modern musical than virtually anyone else I’ve met. It was a privilege to have been his friend and colleague for over 35 years.”

He was a writer of the original “Dreamgirls” and “Ballroom” and did musical staging in 1994 for “Sunset Boulevard” starring Glenn Close, “Putting It Together” with Carol Burnett and 1991 with Lea Salonga for the original “Miss Saigon.”

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He was a writer of the original “Dreamgirls” and “Ballroom” and did musical staging in 1994 for “Sunset Boulevard” starring Glenn Close, “Putting It Together” with Carol Burnett and 1991 with Lea Salonga for the original “Miss Saigon.”

For choreographing “Ballroom” and co-choreographing “A Chorus Line,” Avian received six Tony awards and won twice. He won an Oliver Award for choreographing Boublil and the musical “Martin Guerre” by Schonberg in London. In the West End, starring Ian McShane, he also choreographed ‘The Witches of Eastwick.’

As he led the 2006 revival on Broadway and the London revival at the Palladium in 2013, Avian’s association with “A Chorus Line” continued. He guided touring versions as well.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from Boston University and trained at the Ballet School of Boston as well. In 2020, the University Press of Mississippi released his book, Dancing Man: A Broadway Choreographer’s Journey, co-written with Tom Santopietro.

His husband, Peter Pileski, and his sister, Laura Nabedian, survive him.

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