Sono Osato

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Sono Osato
Born (1919-08-29) August 29, 1919 (age 95)
Omaha, Nebraska, United States
Spouse(s) Victor Elmaleh (m. 1943–2014)
Former groups Ballets Russe de Monte-Carlo American Ballet Theatre

Sono Osato (born August 29, 1919 in Omaha, Nebraska) is an American dancer and actress of Japanese and European descent.[1]


Osato began her career at the age of fourteen with the Ballets Russe de Monte-Carlo; she later went on to dance with American Ballet Theatre (then Ballet Theatre). While at ABT, she danced roles in such ballets as Kenneth MacMillan's Sleeping Beauty, Antony Tudor's Pillar of Fire, and Bronislava Nijinska's The Beloved. As a musical theater performer, her Broadway credits included principal dancer in One Touch of Venus (Donaldson Award) and Ivy Smith in the original On the Town.

In the late 1940s and 1950s, Osato briefly pursued a career as an actress, appearing on Broadway in Peer Gynt, in the film The Kissing Bandit, and in occasional guest appearances on TV series like The Adventures of Ellery Queen (1950).

She founded the Sono Osato Scholarship Program in Graduate Studies at Career Transition For Dancers to help former dancers finance graduate work in both the professions and the liberal arts.

Personal life[edit]

Osato has been married for over sixty years to real estate developer Victor Elmaleh. She is the aunt of installation artist Sono Osato (see Sono Osato (artist)).

Her Japanese father, Shoji Osato (1885-1955), and her Irish-French Canadian mother, Frances Fitzpatrick (1897-1954), were the caretakers of the Phoenix Pavilion and its Japanese garden, both of which had been built for World's Columbian Exposition in 1893, from 1935 to 1941 when her father was sent to concentration camps because of Japanese American Internment. Her name "Sono" means "garden" in Japanese.[2]

She has two siblings. Teru, her younger sister, married a U.S. naval officer and started a family in Norfolk, Virginia. Timothy, her younger brother, upon turning eighteen years-old in 1943, joined the 442nd Regimental Combat Team of the United States Army to fight on the front lines in Europe.[2]


  1. ^ Distant Dances (1980), autobiography by Sono Osato
  2. ^ a b The Garden of the Phoenix: The 120th Anniversary of the Japanese Garden in Chicago Fig. 1 The Phoenix Pavilion on the Wooded Island, 1893 (courtesy of The Chicago Public Library, Special Collections) by Robert W. Karr, Jr. Published in The Journal of the The North American Japanese Garden Association, Issue No. 1, 2013

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