Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

May 06, 2004

Homer Avila, 48, a dancer and choreographer who went on to a new career in dance after the amputation of his cancerous right leg and hip, died April 27 in New York from cancer that had spread to his lungs, a friend said.

Until the amputation in 2001, Mr. Avila was known best for work with Avila/Weeks Dance, a modern-dance company he directed with Edisa Weeks. He also performed with Twyla Tharp, Mark Morris, Ralph Lemon and the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company.

Mr. Avila's disease was diagnosed as a rare form of cancer called chondrosarcoma, an illness that had gone undetected, he said, because he could not afford health insurance. His quandary led to the formation of One Step Forward, a fund to help dancers faced with sudden catastrophic health emergencies, begun by the New York Foundation for the Arts in June 2001 with the proceeds of a benefit tribute to Mr. Avila.

He returned to dance class soon after the amputation and was performing less than a year after the operation - his first New York program, featuring a solo he created for himself called "Not/Without Words." It used the way his new body sat, rose from the floor and moved on one leg without hopping or using a crutch.

Clement "Sir Coxsone" Dodd, 72, the music producer and reggae pioneer credited with launching the career of Bob Marley and the Wailers, died Tuesday of an apparent heart attack.

Mr. Dodd started in the music business in the 1950s, operating a popular "sound system," or portable disco, and releasing records on his label.

In 1963, he opened the Jamaica Recording and Publishing Studio, Jamaica's first black-owned music studio. Later that year, he was introduced to a scruffy singer named Bob Marley, who auditioned for Mr. Dodd with his band, the Wailers.

Impressed, Mr. Dodd signed the group to a five-year contract.

Evelyn Mandela, 82, the first wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela, died Friday of respiratory illness, according to news reports.

Mrs. Mandela was the deeply religious daughter of a mineworker and a cousin of the late Walter Sisulu, one of the giants of the liberation struggle who was imprisoned with Nelson Mandela.

She married Nelson Mandela in 1944 and the couple had four children. One daughter died in 1948 before she was a year old, and a son was killed in a car accident in 1969 while Mr. Mandela was in prison.

The couple divorced in 1955.

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