Volume 77 / Number 33 Jan. 16 - 22, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

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John O’Malley, 47, a top dancer and choreographer

By Grady Hendrix

Dancer and choreographer John O’Malley died on Dec. 26 after a 14-year battle with AIDS. Born in 1961 in Fort Worth, Tex., he trained at the Chamberlain School of Ballet in Dallas before receiving scholarships to the Joffrey Ballet School and the School of American Ballet in Manhattan.

An incandescent presence and neighborhood fixture in the West Village, O’Malley’s second home was the Cowgirl Hall of Fame restaurant on Hudson St. He will be remembered as a brother, son, friend and dancer, but most of all as someone who never considered surrendering to AIDS, turning every painful step he took into a graceful dance that lasted his entire life.

In 1982, he joined ABT II and was later in the corps de ballet of the Metropolitan Opera Company, Zurich Ballet and Bejart Ballet. Over the course of his career, O’Malley danced with Rudolf Nureyev, Natalia Makarova, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Twyla Tharp, and was a soloist with Eglevsky Ballet, Colorado Ballet, Dinosaur Dance Company, Keith Young Dance and Garden State Ballet. 

In 1989, he and Michele Elliman founded Neo Labos Dancetheater, for whom O’Malley choreographed and performed in numerous works, including “Certain Measures,” “Ten Ten Spin” and “Angel Ash.” He choreographed several pieces for TWEED TheaterWorks, including “Hotel Martinique” and “Atomic Opera,” and worked on many film and video projects, including the acclaimed short film “Lillies.”

O’Malley regularly returned to Dallas as a guest teacher and choreographer for the Chamberlain Ballet until health problems forced him to stop dancing in 1994. He became an ardent audiophile until he lost his hearing several years later, and was an enthusiastic reader and correspondent, writing dozens of letters weekly to his family and friends.

He is survived by his partner and collaborator, Kevin Malony, his mother Jean O’Malley, his sisters Cass O’Malley, Elizabeth McCoy and Patricia Delgado, and many cousins, nieces and nephews, as well as a large, international circle of devoted friends.

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