Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Obituary: Anneliese von Oettingen

Ballet influenced by long-time teacher

By Carol Norris
Enquirer contributor

Ms. von Oettingen

Anneliese von Oettingen, one of the Tristate's most influential ballet teachers for more than five decades, died in her sleep Monday at a nursing home in Clearwater, Fla. Heart problems had weakened her in recent years, and she suffered a stroke in June. She was 85.

"There are certain people you expect to live forever," said Maki Kabayama, who runs one of the two remaining von Oettingen dance studios in Cincinnati. "Anneliese was one of those people. She was such a strong personality."

"She was an amazing force for dance in our town," said Jack Louiso, artistic director of The Children's Theater. Mr. Louiso studied with Ms. von Oettingen as a young man and said her influence continues to be felt in area studios where her former students now teach.

Ms. von Oettingen moved from Germany to Cincinnati in 1947, determined to teach dance to support herself and her two children. Her husband, Friedrich-Karl Sass, was missing in action in World War II, and she moved to the United States to be with her sister Barbara.

Ms. von Oettingen's first studio opened in 1948 at DeSales Corner in East Walnut Hills. Eventually seven more followed and she was soon hiring staff and teaching classical ballet she learned in Berlin.

In 1957, Ms. von Oettingen introduced liturgical ballet to Cincinnati. She applied ballet to athletics and worked with ice skaters and professional football players alike, earning a feature article in Sports Illustrated.

Ms. von Oettingen is survived by a daughter, Cornelia Berns of Cincinnati; a son, Tyll Sass of Honduras; her sister, Barbara von Oettingen of Cincinnati; a brother, Gerhart von Oettingen of Germany, and 10 grandchildren.

At Ms. Oettingen's request, there will be no funeral or visitation. Her body will be cremated and buried at a cemetery in Old Forge, N.Y., near her cabin in Eagle Bay. A Cincinnati memorial is pending.

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