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Rutland Dancer, Actor Ilene Blackman Dies At 81

A person against a stone background.
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Ilene Blackman died at the age of 81 on Sunday.

Ilene Blackman, who danced on Broadway and later helped found the Vermont Actors' Repertory Theatre in Rutland, died on Sunday at her home in Ira.  She was 81 and had battled cancer for several years.

One of her two sons, Seth Blackman, lives in Starksboro and said his mother left Miami for New York City at age 18.

“Her career included dancing in Tyrone Guthrie’s Broadway production of Gideon, an off-Broadway production of West Side Story, and performances with the Alvin Ailey Dance Company,” he told VPR.

After moving to Vermont, Blackman said his mother taught ballet, ballroom dance and acting at her studio in Rutland for almost 50 years.

A person in a dance outfit.
Credit Courtesy
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A photo of Ilene Blackman from the early 1960s during her dance career in New York City.

Sandra Gartner, a lifelong friend and acting collaborator, said Blackman’s elegance, style and passion for the arts will be remembered by generations of Rutland-area dance students.

“She always felt that dance was good for everyone, because it was good for the body and it was good for the mind and it was good for the soul to be able to express yourself like that," Gartner said. "And she said whether she was on the stage or she was in the studio, she had the same kind of feeling about dance, it was just such a joy for her.”

Blackman is survived by sons Seth and Farley and their wives. A celebration of Blackman’s life will be held later.

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