More than 50 students, instructors, family and friends gathered on Saturday, Aug. 1 at the Hannah Kroner School of Dance in Albertson to celebrate the life and legacy of school founder Hannah Kroner, who died last month at age 95. Old photo albums, dance programs, letters, costumes and props on display chronicled Kroner’s nearly three-quarters of a century career as a dancer, teacher and choreographer. After a brief dance performance by students, attendees spoke of how Kroner had touched their lives.
“She taught us not just how to dance and to be able to express anything through the art of dance, but how to be a good human being and how to live a good life,” said Catherine Murphy, performing arts department chair at Holy Trinity Diocesan High School in Hicksville.
“Hannah would want us to be dancing,” said Kroner’s daughter Evelyn Summer, who spoke of her mother’s childhood in pre-war Berlin, Germany, and her dance training and background as a theater dancer in the Kulturbund—a Jewish theater organization. Summer told how after she immigrated to America in 1939 with her parents, Kroner danced professionally before opening her first dance studio in a small basement apartment in Astoria, Queens in 1947. An innovative dance educator, Kroner taught all dance forms, basing her philosophy on the principles of her beloved teacher Max Terpis, ballet master of the State Opera House in Berlin.
While she nurtured many aspiring dancers, who went on to careers on Broadway, film and television, Kroner instilled critical thinking skills, discipline and self-confidence in all her students that would serve them throughout their lives.
“We learned so many steps, but they weren’t just dance steps but life steps,” said Bob Spiotto, performer and former artistic director at Hofstra University.
“She was a teacher’s teacher,” said Hannah Kroner School Director Carol Riley, noting Kroner was a lifetime member of Dance Educators of America, where she taught at their conventions. “She was my mentor, teacher, business partner and long time friend, “Riley said. “We have taken what she gave us and instituted the legacy.”
Kroner’s life was profiled in Martin Goldsmith’s 2001 book, The Indistinguishable Symphony and German author Pascale Hugues’s 2014 anthology, Hannah’s Dress: Berlin 1904-2014, which received the European Book Prize.
Kroner is pre-deceased by her husband, Gustav Segal, and grandson Raymond Summer. Besides Evelyn Summer, Kroner is survived by her son, Jerry Segal, grandson Daniel Summer and great-grandchildren Olivia and Gus Summer. The family asks that donations be sent to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.