Peggy Willis-Aarnio, American ballet choreographer, Died at 67

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Peggy Willis-Aarnio was born on January 12, 1948, and died on January 9, 2016.

She was an American choreographer, historian, author and teacher of classical ballet.

She was a professional dancer in the early 1970s with the Ft. Worth Ballet in Fort Worth, Texas.

She was the first American ballet teacher to be sanctioned as a “Certified Practitioner and Teacher of the Teaching Method of Classical Ballet” by the Vaganova Academy in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Following her graduation from Bay High School in 1966, Willis-Aarnio attended Texas Christian University, where she was invited to perform in the American Festival in Great Britain.

In summers of 1969, 1970 and 1971, Peggy and her sister Sheila were hired as performers at Mr. Koplin’s Tombstone Territory on Panama City Beach.

Following her last summer there, when she was 21 years old, Peggy was hired as director and choreographer.

Peggy had the opportunity to write, direct, choreograph and produce Spanish, Mexican and western type entertainment shows for Tombstone, thus beginning her professional career as a choreographer and director.

In the summer of 1972, Peggy received an invitation to join the faculty at Texas Tech University as “assistant professor”.

Willis-Aarnio’s sister Sheila went on to a career in dance, performing professionally with Iris Hensley in Marietta, Georgia (now the Georgia Ballet), and also with the Pittsburgh Dance Alloy.

Sheila also studied and got ready for a second career in design while she was living in Pittsburgh, and received a Degree in Interior Design from the Art Institute in Pittsburgh.

Peggy Willis-Aarnio passed away at 67 yrs old.