Tiffany Glenn, a dancer with Ballet San Jose for several years, passed away at age 33 on June 18 after a six-year battle with cancer. Dennis Nahat, the longtime Artistic Director of the ballet company until earlier this year, shares his thoughts on his close friend Tiffany who “came to San Jose in 2001 and stole everyone’s heart.”
I first saw Tiffany in the Sumer of 2000 at an in-studio performance on 57th Street, where young choreographers were showing their new works. My nephew who was teaching dance there at the time thought it could be interesting for me to see and invited me over… Tiffany caught my eye the moment she entered, as she did her jeté right out onto the space. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her and it was plain to see she was the only trained classical dancer among them. Her eyes were bright and smile infectious. She took command of the space and ate it up with an eager and sweet personality. After the showing, I went back-stage to see the dancers and went right over to Tiffany, introduced myself and told her that I thought she was terrific, then asked whether she might be interested in dancing professionally with the company I had just moved to San Jose, California from Cleveland, Ohio. With her famous smile and warm inviting personality, she said, “Wow, I’m overwhelmed that you’d ask me Mr. Nahat! Yes, I’m very interested…” She came to San Jose in 2001 and stole everyone’s heart. From ballets that were choreographed for her to works that she stepped into with gusto, Tiffany was a winner at every performance. She never said, “No, I can’t do that…” or complained; instead she asked for more and asked if she could please come to the studio to learn something she wasn’t cast in…She was the kindest and one of the most giving dancers I’ve known. I always told Tiffany to come in and do anything she thought she wanted to tackle.
The eminent American Modern Dancer and choreographer, Donald McKayle, took her to heart and cast her in principal roles in the large number of ballets he gave me for our company. The renown Flemming Flindt thought of her as a savant, dancing in his RED SHOES, TOREADOR, and OUT OF AFRICA… She ran swiftly and gracefully through Balanchine’s SERENADE and attacked THE FOUR TEMPERAMENTS with strength and meaning. She delighted in her pink tutu, glistening in WHO CARES? When I staged GRADUATION BALL, Tiffany was the perfect Mistress of Ceremonies, and in MIDDLE KINGDOM ANCIENT CHINA, a Ferocious Tigress! Her cheerful and all eyes Maria in THE NUTCRACKER was an utter charmer… I always can spot a great performer by their eyes and oh, Tiffany had the eyes and the light that surrounded them. She tore through QUICKSILVER like lightning, tumbled through ONTOGENY like an acrobat… She was the supreme sylph in Michel Fokine’s LES SYLPHIDES, then turned around and did a tour de force performance as a Wili in GISELLE. All while still ill…and without a single grievance.