Bob Avian, a Tony Award-winning choreographer who had a role in some of the most beloved and influential shows on Broadway, has died at the age of 83.
Avian died on Thursday of cardiac arrest at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said Matt Polk, head of the theatrical publicity firm Polk & Co.
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 theatre luminaries as Michael Bennett, Sir Cameron Macintosh, Stephen Sondheim and Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber.
It was with Bennett that Avian enjoyed a long professional partnership, working as associate choreographer or assistant director on such Bennett-choreographed productions as A Chorus Line, Promises, Promises, Coco, Company, Follies, Seesaw and God’s Favourite.
He was a producer on the original Dreamgirls and Ballroom and did musical staging for Sunset Boulevard starring Glenn Close in 1994, Putting It Together with Carol Burnett and the original Miss Saigon with Lea Salonga in 1991.
Avian earned six Tony nominations and won twice, for choreographing Ballroom and co-choreographing A Chorus Line.
He won an Oliver Award for choreographing Boublil and Schonberg’s musical Martin Guerre in London. He also choreographed The Witches Of Eastwick in the West End starring Ian McShane.
Avian’s association with A Chorus Line continued when he directed the 2006 revival on Broadway and the London revival at the Palladium in 2013. He also directed touring versions.
He earned a bachelor’s degree from Boston University and also studied at Boston Ballet School.
In 2020, his memoir Dancing Man: A Broadway Choreographer’s Journey – co-written with Tom Santopietro – was published by University Press of Mississippi.
He is survived by his husband, Peter Pileski, and a sister, Laura Nabedian.