Eugene Hill Sagan

New York Negro Ballet

Photo by Greg Lanier via The Philadelphia Inquirer, 1982.

Eugene Sagan, born Arthur Eugene Hill, was born on September 28, 1931 in Emporia, VA and grew up in Philadelphia, PA. He trained under the direction of Michel Panaieff and Nina Vyroubova and at the Ballet Theatre. Sagan made his debut in 1959 with the New York Negro Ballet and continued to perform with other artists such as Louis Johnson, Carmen de Lavallade, and Geoffrey Holder and with companies in Copenhagen; Stockholm; Paris; and Cologne, Germany.

Mr. Sagan choreographed his first dance in 1963 for his own group based in Munich. He later choreographed for the Philadelphia Dance Company, Pennsylvania Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and the Batsheva and Bat D’or companies of Israel (where he became a resident and worked for 15 years). He was Philadanco’s resident choreographer for 15 years as well, starting in 1976. His piece Transposed Images for the Israel Classical Ballet was praised as the “most interesting choreography” of one of their 1977 shows by the San Antonio Express, though Newport’s Daily Press called his Sweet Agony a “total waste of time.”

His work was influenced by ballet, modern, and jazz dance with emphasis on slightly obscure themes and sensuous, swirling movements that suited the dancers.

Sagan died March 1, 1991 at the Albert Einstein Medical Center of respiratory failure at age 60. His ashes were buried in Israel.

Sagan’s autograph among those of 18 other members of New York Negro Ballet, 1957.

Sources:

Gene Hill Sagan, 59, A Versatile Dancer and Choreographer, The New York Times
The New York Negro Ballet. Autographs of 19 Members on a card. 1957, ViaLibri
Israel Ballet Promising, Daily Press Oct 8, 1977
Sameness of pace hurts ballets, San Antonio Express Nov 14, 1977
They do his dances with vigor, The Philadelphia Inquirer May 1, 1980
Philadanco’s Gene Hill Sagan, 60, The Philadelphia Inquirer March 6, 1991
The high-flying hopes of a dance troupe, The Philadelphia Inquirer

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