PAUL RUSSELL

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.

More Scene

  • Ryan Murphy Pose

    Ryan Murphy on 'Showrunning as Advocacy' and the Post-Me Too 'Age of Enlightenment'

    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 […]

  • 'The Sinner' film premiere

    Jessica Biel Closes Her Kid-Friendly Au Fudge Restaurant

    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 […]

  • Comedy Converstion with L to R:

    Just for Laughs Festival Honors Tiffany Haddish, Hannah Gadsby, More

    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 […]

  • Paul Krassner Memoir Illustration

    Paul Krassner on Resisting With Humor

    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 […]

  • Just for Laughs Festival Montreal

    Just for Laughs Festival Is the Coachella of Comedy

    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 […]

  • National Comedy Center Set To Open

    National Comedy Center Set To Open During Lucille Ball Fest

    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 […]

  • Carter Hudson, John Singleton, Angela LewisFX's

    John Singleton on Disney-Fox Deal: 'You Gotta Let FX Be What It Is'

    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 […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content