Feb. 24, 2014/For Immediate Release

Media Contact: Lauren Whitaker, 336-734-2891, whitakerl@uncsa.edu



Endowment is tribute to founding dean of the School of Dance

WINSTON-SALEM – The largest dance studio at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) now bears the name of the founding dean of the School of Dance. Chief Advancement Officer Mark Hough has announced that Studio A, located in Gray Building, will be renamed the Robert Lindgren Sonja Tyven Founders Studio, thanks to donors who established the endowment.

At UNCSA, endowments may be established with a minimum gift of $25,000.

Lindgren, who led the School of Dance for 22 years, died May 10, 2013, at the age of 89. His wife, Sonja Tyven Lindgren, who lives in Winston-Salem, also taught at the school.

“We are honored to place the Lindgren name on our studio,” said current Dance Dean Susan Jaffe. “Bobby Lindgren created the School of Dance, and his name above the door will provide inspiration to our young dancers for years to come.”

Jaffe said the endowment will provide need-based scholarships for talented students. “We are grateful to our donors, who knew and loved Bobby Lindgren, and wanted to honor him in this very special way,” she said.

In October 2013, Jaffe hosted the school’s Robert Lindgren Memorial Dance Concert, which included performances of two works choreographed by Lindgren. At that time, UNCSA’s Board of Trustees approved the renaming of the 3,300-square-foot studio if the school could raise the money for a scholarship fund.

Hough said the Robert and Sonja Lindgren Endowed Scholarship is a welcome addition to UNCSA’s endowment portfolio. “Although we have the second largest endowment per student of all the UNC schools, we of course strive for additional scholarship money,” he said. “Scholarships are vitally important for us to attract and retain promising young artists.”

Through his long career as a noted performer, teacher, choreographer, administrator and innovator, Lindgren left an indelible legacy in the dance world, especially through the students he trained who carry his passion for dance and the arts into the future.

During their tenure at the School of the Arts, Lindgren and Tyven choreographed the school’s first production of The Nutcracker and founded the Preparatory Dance Program.

Many rehearsals of the Lindgren-Tyven Nutcracker took place in Studio A.

Lindgren also founded the North Carolina Dance Theatre as a professional affiliate of the School of the Arts.

As a dancer, Lindgren performed with such companies as the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet. He appeared on Broadway, on national television, and performed on tours sponsored by the U.S. State Department. In 1959, he and his wife opened the Lindgren-Tyven School of Ballet in Phoenix, Ariz., prior to joining the North Carolina School of the Arts in 1965, at the behest of first President Vittorio Giannini.

Among Lindgren’s students at UNCSA were Mel Tomlinson, who was a soloist with New York City Ballet and returned to teach at UNCSA for four years; the late Edward Stierle, a leading dancer with the Joffrey Ballet; and Frank Smith, a former soloist with American Ballet Theatre who has taught at UNCSA since 1983.

Lindgren served on the Council for Lincoln Center; the dance and choreographer panels of the National Endowment for the Arts; and the boards of the arts councils of North Carolina, New York state and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County. He was a visiting guest artist at Wake Forest University and director of the South Carolina Governor’s School dance program. He received the North Carolina Governor's Award for outstanding contribution to the arts.

In 2006, UNCSA awarded him an honorary doctorate. That year, he served on a Founders Forum panel alongside John Ehle, Phil Hanes, Tom Lambeth, Mary Semans and Robert Ward, as the school celebrated its 40th anniversary.

Born in Victoria, B.C., Canada, Lindgren began studying ballet there with Dorothy Wilson and June Roper. He studied in New York with Maira Yurieva, Anatole Vilzak, Pierre Valdimoroff, and Igor Schwezoff, and with Olga Preobrajenska in Paris.


As America’s first state-supported arts school, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts is a unique stand-alone public university of arts conservatories. With a high school component, UNCSA is a degree-granting institution that trains young people of talent in music, dance, drama, filmmaking, and design and production. Established by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, the School of the Arts opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.