Bob Avian, Tony-Winning Choreographer on ‘A Chorus Line,’ Dies at 83

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His six decades on Broadway also included work on ‘West Side Story,’ ‘Funny Girl,’ ‘Promises, Promises’ and ‘Dreamgirls.’

Bob Avian, the two-time Tony Award-winning choreographer who worked on A Chorus Line, Dreamgirls and Promises, Promises in a Broadway career that spanned six decades, has died. He was 83.

Avian, who often collaborated with famed Broadway choreographer and director Michael Bennett, died Thursday of cardiac arrest at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, publicist Matt Polk announced.

In 1976, Avian received his first Tony as co-choreographer of A Chorus Line and won his second three years later for co-choreographing Ballroom (he produced that as well). He was also a lead producer on the original and national companies of Dreamgirls, winner of six Tonys.

Born in New York on Dec. 26, 1937, Avian graduated from Boston University’s College of Fine Arts and also studied at Boston Ballet School. He began his professional career in the ’60s as a dancer on Broadway shows including West Side Story, Funny Girl and Henry, Sweet Henry, which was choreographed by Bennett.

He went on to work with Bennett again on Promises, Promises; CocoCompanyFolliesTwigsSeesawGod’s FavoriteA Chorus Line; Ballroom; and Dreamgirls, which played on Broadway through August 1985 in its original production. 

Avian also choreographed the London premiere of Follies and created the musical staging for Miss Saigon, both for producer Cameron Macintosh; did the musical staging for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard in London and on Broadway, receiving his sixth career Tony nomination in 1995; and won an Olivier Award for best choreography for Martin Guerre.

Avian also choreographed Stephen Sondheim’s Putting It Together off-Broadway at the Manhattan Theatre Club starring Julie Andrews in 1993 and then on Broadway starring Carol Burnett in ’99.

Back in London, he choreographed The Witches of Eastwick, starring Ian McShane, on the West End, then directed the 2006-08 Broadway revival of A Chorus Line.

His memoir, Dancing Man: A Broadway Choreographer’s Journey, co-written with Tom Santopietro, was published in 2020.

Survivors include his husband, director and producer Peter Pileski; sister Laura, and five nieces and nephews.

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