Classical ballet

Daniel Levins, classical ballet and film dancer, dies at 61

Daniel Levins, a dancer sometimes known professionally as Daniel Levans, who rose to prominence as a teenager in Eliot Feld’s famous American Ballet Company and as a principal dancer in the American Ballet Theater in the 1970, died September 15 in Brooklyn. He was 61 years old.

Her husband, Eugene Gabriel-Thomas Walsh, said the cause was a bacterial lung infection.

Highly trained in classical ballet by two New York City Ballet alumni, Richard Thomas and Barbara Fallis, as well as Russian and Italian teachers, Mr. Levins also danced for a season with City Ballet before turning to acting. , choreography for the ballet. Off Broadway companies and productions, and building a national reputation as a master teacher.

He taught at Mr. Feld’s school, Ballet Tech, for 23 years until last June.

Moviegoers saw her in a memorable small role in “The Turning Point,” the 1977 film starring Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine as two former ballerinas and old friends who chose different paths, one (Ms. MacLaine) to raise a family, the other to become a star in the world of ballet. This film also introduced Mikhail Baryshnikov to the general public.

Mr. Levins (credited as Levans) made a comedic turn as a cocky young choreographer for a dance company closely resembling the Ballet Theatre, barking a well-known saying by George Balanchine at dancers to forget feelings and “just take the steps “.

In the 1978 film version of the Broadway musical “Grease,” Mr. Levins’ energetic virtuosity as the boy in green in the dance finale arguably stole the show from John Travolta and the film’s other stars.

Daniel John Patrick Levins was born October 7, 1953 in Freeport, NY, on Long Island, and spent his early years in upstate New York at Ticonderoga. Of Irish descent, he started taking Irish dancing and tap lessons at the age of 5. When he was 12, his family moved to New York, where he studied modern dance and ballet at the High School of Performing Arts.

In 1969, when Mr. Levins was 15, Mr. Feld asked him to join the American Ballet Company, Mr. Feld’s first troupe. He became part of his creative ferment.

Later, Mr. Thomas, who was the company’s teacher, and Mrs. Fallis, his wife, formed a student ballet company (which included their son, actor Richard Thomas, then appearing as John-Boy in the series CBS “The Waltons”), with Mr. Levins as choreographer.

Mr. Levins joined the Ballet Theater in 1971 and became director. He danced classical solo parts in “Swan Lake” and “Giselle” – the company then had only a few 19th century classics in its repertoire – as well as the title role in Balanchine’s “Apollo”.

He particularly excelled in the title role of Eugene Loring’s “Billy the Kid” and in the dramatically tinged ballets of Antony Tudor and Mr. Feld. Her natural comic touch was seen in “Three Virgins and a Devil” by Agnès de Mille.

Mr. Levins joined the New York City Ballet in 1975 but left after a year, reportedly because of a chronic knee injury. He then choreographed works for the Ballet Theater and other companies, including Miami City Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and taught for many years. He lived in Brooklyn.

In addition to Mr. Walsh, Mr. Levins is survived by one sister, Donna Mae Perchase.