San Diego Ballet would like to pay special tribute to Dame Sonia Arova who passed away on Sunday, February 4, 2001, of cancer.
She danced with Rudolf Nureyev in hia American debut, at his request. Kings and queens showered her with gifts in appreciation of her artistry. In a United nations ceremony, she was knighted by King Olaz V of Norway, only the second woman ever to receive that distinction.
Born in Sofia, Bulgaria, Ms. Arova began her training in Paris. When war broke out in 1940, she escaped the Nazis' advance with her English piano teacher in a harrowing flight during which their train was machine-gunned by German troops. Arriving finally in England, Ms. Arova enrolled in an arts school and later joined the International ballet in 1942. She went on to work as a principal dancer with the Original Ballet Russe, the London Festival Ballet, the Royal Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. Ms. Arova became artistic director of the Norwegian National Ballet in 1965 and in 1971 co-directed the San Diego Ballet with her husband, Thor Sutkowski. They accepted principal teaching positions at the Alabama School of Fine Arts in 1976. During her tenure there she became Alabama Ballet's artistic director and in 1996, the couple returned to San Diego, where their daughter, Ariane, lives.
San Diego Ballet dancers will miss her artistry, her dedication and devotion to dance, and what she instilled in them while teaching, will last a lifetime.