Patricia Nanon, of New York City and Chilmark, died peacefully on Feb. 29, in her home in New York City, surrounded by her loving daughters. She was 84.
Ms. Nanon, a choreographer, was a 1944 graduate of Bennington College. She started her professional dance career in the Broadway musical "Sing Out Sweet Land" and performed in the companies of Hanya Holm and Doris Humphrey. She choreographed for and co-directed the Choreographers' Workshops with Trudy Goth, presenting in New York all the leading modern dance creators of the late 1940s and early 1950s. She also choreographed a weekly Dumont television series and presented her work in New York at the Theatre of the Open Eye with the New Repertory Ensemble at Queens College, The Hunter Playhouse, the 92nd Street Y, Marymount Manhattan, and St. Clement's.
In 1973, Ms. Nanon founded The Yard in Chilmark, now a treasured part of both the Vineyard and the contemporary dance world. Her own personal artistic journey, extensive and varied, led her to envision a "playground without walls." She spoke of The Yard as a place where choreographers could "explore, experiment, and construct. A place of possibility, joy, love, anger, frustration." Ms. Nanon produced new work annually at The Yard for 35 years, and received recognition for her vision and generosity from many leaders in the world of dance.
Friends and colleagues of Ms. Nanon remember her sharp wit, her keen insight, her sun hat, her humor, her generosity, her discriminating and deep love of art, and her chain smoking. The Yard's Wendy Taucher reminds us all that she "died with her boots on," having completed one of her most successful works of choreography for her 2007 residency at The Yard. As late as this February she was planning her next project.
She is survived by her daughters Vicki Woolner Samuels of Chicago, Ill., Cate Woolner of Northfield, and Justine Woolner Wise of Oneonta, N.Y., their families, many devoted nieces and nephews and their families, as well as many dear friends.
The memorial celebration for Patricia will be this Friday, March 7 at 3:30 pm at Campbell Funeral Chapel, located on 1076 Madison Avenue, at the corner of 81st Street, in New York City. For more information, call 212-288-3500. There will be another celebration later, with details to be announced at a later date.
Donations in honor of Patricia may be made to Bennington College (bennington.edu/give.asp), The Juilliard School (juilliard.edu/giv-ing/giving.html), and The Yard (dancetheyard.org).