Tony Award and Olivier Award–winning choreographer for Dreamgirls, A Chorus Line, Follies and Miss Saigon, Bob Avian, has died of cardiac arrest. He was 83.
Avian started off as dancer in West Side Story, No Where to Go But Up, Cafe Crown, Funny Girl and Henry Sweet Henry. He was an assistant stage manager for the Mary Martin Robert Preston musical I Do I Do. He met Bennett while doing Henry Sweet Henry. Avian’s first choreography job was an assistant to Michael Bennett for Promises, Promises his next show. He went on to work on Coco, Company and Follies followed. He was also the associate director on Twigs, where Stephen Sondheim wrote the incidental music.
Seesaw, God’s Favorite, A Chorus Line, Ballroom, Dreamgirls, Miss Saigon, Sunset Boulevard and Putting It Together followed. He was also the producer on the original Dreamgirls and Ballroom.
In 2020 Avian’s dazzling life story, Dancing Man: A Broadway Choreographer’s Journey, a memoir in three acts shed more light into working with Barbra Streisand, Mary Martin, teaching Katharine Hepburn how to sing and dance in Coco and working with Stephen Sondheim and Michael Bennett. Avian choreographed Julie Andrews’s return to the New York stage, devised all of the musical staging for Miss Saigon and Sunset Boulevard, and directed the revival of A Chorus Line on Broadway. He worked with the biggest names on Broadway, including Andrew Lloyd Webber, Carol Burnett, Jennifer Holliday, Patti LuPone, Elaine Stritch, and Glenn Close.
He is survived by his husband, Peter Pileski, and a sister, Laura Nabedian.