Ballet legend dies of Coronavirus

Ballet legend dies of Coronavirus


norman lebrecht

April 02, 2020

The plague has claimed the life of Willy Burmann, New York teacher of Julio Bocca, Alessandra Ferri, Isabel Guerin, Wendy Whelan and Maria Kowroski among other stars. Willy was 80.

The cause of death was renal failure, complicated by Covid-19.

More here.



  • Jack says:

    (Just a note that ‘plague’ is actually a specific disease. There are three kinds, one of which was the famous “Bubonic Plague”

    People tend to use the words ‘plague’ and ‘epidemic’ (or ‘pandemic’) interchangeably, but the word plague doesn’t mean what most people think it means. Since we’re in a pandemic, that should be the word to use.)

    It’s a mistake I made for many years until I looked it up recently. Hope you’re keeping well.

    • V.Lind says:

      Thank you. Anything that improves precision around here is very welcome.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Words mean whatever the speaker and hearer intend them to mean. We all understood what Norman was saying, and what we understood when he said it was what he wanted us to understand when he said it. So Norman used the word “plague” correctly.

      And since when did wikipedia become an acceptable reference?

  • Blanche Hampton says:

    Willy Burmann was a dance icon in New York for decades. People took his class hoping that they too could garner his approval. Some found his style mannerist, but to the numerous ballet principals and this who aspired to be like them, his corrections and class were an exercise in attention and learning. No one else imbued their teaching with philosophical comments about beauty, technique, musicality and the point of it all.

    Funny that at a time like this, others would focus on precision. Why? Because no one else can be credited for being more exacting and demanding of the dancers before him.

    With searing wit and an eagle’s eye, he could see what you were doing and completely force you to question everything you knew.

    He was a force and those who knew his class and him are the inheritors of his knowledge. He was a class act and he will be missed.