Paul Russell, 43, a principal dancer with Dance Theater of Harlem and the San Francisco Ballet, died Feb. 15 in San Francisco of AIDS.

He was known for his exuberant performances in ballets like “Don Quixote” and “Le Corsaire.” In addition, Russell probably was the first black man to dance the role of Siegfried in “Swan Lake.” His energetic dancing in “Forces Of Rhythm” also earned rave reviews.

Born in Texas, Russell trained at the School of American Ballet and the Dance Theater of Harlem School in New York. His debut came in 1970 with the Hartford Ballet. The following year he joined the Harlem company.

He left in 1977 to study with Natalya Dudinskaya, director of the Kirov Ballet school in Leningrad. He performed Siegfried with the Scottish National Ballet in Glasgow, then returned to dance with the San Francisco Ballet from 1981 to 1986.

A hip injury led to his early retirement from performing. In 1988, he became artistic director of the American Festival Ballet of Boise in Idaho, where he worked until his death. He also taught ballet at Dance Theater of Harlem and San Francisco Ballet.

His longtime companion was Randy Griffin.

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  1. Great person. We miss him!

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