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Leigh Witchel

RIP Tom Parsons

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For those of you who are also readers of alt.arts.ballet and the many others who knew and liked him, I'm afraid there is sad news today.

Tom Parsons, author of the FAQ on ballet and a main poster at alt.arts.ballet passed away early today. The announcement came from his wife, the cause was not mentioned.

Tom was a wonderful, educated, generous and enthusiastic man with an eye and passion for music and dance. I can't describe how much I'll miss him.

If people would like to write a condolence to Patricia, please contact me off board and I'll get a contact.

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That is sad news -- thank you for posting it.

Tom was one of the first people I "met" on the internet. He was an excellent writer. His site, especially his essays on discovering dance, meant a great deal to a great many people Tom Parsons Dance Pages

He reposted the FAQ every month on aab, and just did so a few days ago, so the news is quite a shock. He was an Internet pioneer, back in the days when the usenet groups were the only way for people to communicate. He believed in them, and for those who cherish the old, free-wheeling days of the internet, and unmoderated message boards, alt.arts.ballet remained the king. In the last few years, Tom was its backbone, and he will be sorely missed by many people. Raising a large lager of mead in salute, Tom.

Edited by Alexandra

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In deference to Tom's enduring dedication to alt. arts. ballet, I have posted a brief tribute there, which I am also posting below, since so many of his internet friends are found here on Ballet Talk. He was a rare and generous man, and a gallant one.

With maxima reverentia for our vir eruditissme, our learned man, our dear Tom,

author of our FAQ, beloved and witty correspondent to many, charming friend to

the lucky, loving husband to Pat. Our world was more fun with him in it,

smarter, kinder, more open minded, more scholarly, and more game. I will miss

him. His devotion to this board was enduring.

Nanatchka

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I'm reading him into prayers at St. John's Episcopal Church, Cornwall, NY, tomorrow.

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I'm reading him into prayers at St. John's Episcopal Church, Cornwall, NY, tomorrow.

Thank you.

Like Nanatchka, I'm posting this here and on alt.arts.ballet.

It seems strange to use this verb, but Tom Parsons was one of the first people I “met” online, back in the early Usenet days before alt.arts.ballet was spun off of rec.arts.dance. I’d started reading the list when a student told me about it, and at the beginning it felt rather voyeuristic, but as I began to associate names and ideas Tom was one of the first individuals to come into focus for me -- he was smart, and verbal, and willing to admit that he could learn more about the art form that seems to obsess us all. Back then this world could easily devolve into snipe fighting or geeky one-upsmanship. Tom obviously knew his way around the technology and the language, and he didn’t seem to tolerate nitwittery, but he was always courteous if you were seriously trying to explain your point of view. I was surprised and flattered when he asked if he might include a couple paragraphs I’d written on Labanotation in his burgeoning FAQ, and I was always happy to contribute what I could.

When my son was born and I became an at-home parent, the alt.arts.ballet newsgroup was a way I could keep talking about dance without having to leave the house, and I became very fond of that cast of characters, chief among them Tom. As the internet world grew, that connection became looser, and although I was still always interested in what he had to say, I didn’t always participate as avidly in the conversation. He continued to be a cordial and witty correspondent, though, and in losing him, the general level of intelligence and civility in my world goes down a little.

I always liked the quotations that popped up in his online signature. Several of them have been pinned up over my monitor, but this is my favorite:

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

Chesterton

I continue to do worthwhile things badly, remembering Tom Parsons.

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I came across this while hunting for something else and realized I'd never contributed to this thread, having been ill at the time of it's posting.

Tom was and continues to be an inspiration. You've got to love someone who takes their first ballet class in their sixties. I "met" Tom not long after alt.arts.ballet began. When I think of alt.arts.ballet in it's glory, Tom was sort of it's reigning diplomat... always polite... always courteous... always patient... mostly witty. He helped cast it's discourse away from "flames" without lessening the passion. When he took it upon himself to compile a FAQ for the group, we all were grateful. He maintained that FAQ meticulously and deserved to be proud of it; turning himself into an expert on dance perhaps as a result. Even the venerable Mel Johnson referred to him on at least one occasion here.

The dance world lost one of its most devoted. He will be missed.

Gaynor-Minden has graciously provided a new home for the FAQ at www.dancer.com:

Tom Parson's Ballet-Modern FAQ

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