By Neil Genzlinger
21 February 2020
Tobi Tobias, whose dance criticism for New York magazine and other outlets made her an influential voice in the genre for decades, died on Feb. 13 at her home in Manhattan. She was 81.
Her husband, Irwin Tobias, confirmed the death. He said she had been in declining health for some time.
Ms. Tobias, who was also the author of a number of children’s books, began writing about dance in the early 1970s, starting with an article about Twyla Tharp for the alumni magazine of Barnard College, both women’s alma mater. Armed with that and another article about Ms. Tharp for a different publication — the sum total of her dance writing at that point — she offered her services to Dance Magazine.
To her surprise, William Como, the editor in chief, called her in for an interview. Although they differed about a lot of things — “Just for instance, he was a Béjart guy; I was a Balanchine gal,” she wrote on her blog some 40 years later — he enlisted her as a writer and, later in the decade, as an editor of other critics.
She became the dance critic at New York magazine in 1980 and held that post for 22 years. She also wrote for The New York Times, The Village Voice, Bloomberg News and the website Arts Journal, among other outlets.
Her articles for Arts Journal made her a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in criticism. The Pulitzer judges singled her out for “work that reveals passion as well as deep historical knowledge of dance, her well-expressed arguments coming from the heart as well as the head.”
Read the full obituary here.