Willy Blok Hanson

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Willy Blok Hanson (1914 – December 22, 2012) was a Javanese-born Canadian dancer and choreographer. The Toronto Star has called her a "Canadian dance legend."[1]

Biography[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Hanson was born in Java, Dutch East Indies (present-day Indonesia) in 1914.[1] Her father was Dutch-Chinese while her mother was of French-Indonesian descent.[1] She studied dance and gymnastics at a dance academy in Vienna, Austria, but was forced to return to the Dutch East Indies with the outbreak of World War II.[1] She arrived back in Java during the Japanese occupation of Indonesia. She was accused of spying and espionage by Japanese authorities and imprisoned for fifty-five days.[1]

She met her first husband, an Australian soldier, after World War II.[1] The couple had one daughter (who was Willy Blok Hanson's only child) in 1947, Christilot Hanson, who would later become a four-time Canadian Olympic equestrian.[1] The family moved to Toronto, Canada, in 1951.[1] Willy Blok Hanson and her first husband divorced in the early 1970s. She remarried twice. Her second marriage was to a University of Toronto professor of aeronautical engineering.[1] Hanson's short third marriage was to a 27-year-old medical student when she was in her seventies.[1]

Career[edit]

Willy Blok Hanson opened her first dance studio near Bay and Bloor Streets in Toronto during the 1950s.[1] She also joined a trio of dancers who performed weekly on CBC Television.[1] She transitioned to choreography, creating dances and routines for prominent artistic figures, including the Canadian Film Board and film director, Norman Jewison.[1]

Hanson owned another, well-known dance and personal training studio located at Church and Wellesley Streets before her retirement when she was 75 years old.[1] Her client list included rappers, professional dancers and entertainment industry executives.[1]

Hanson died at her apartment in the Church and Wellesley neighborhood of downtown Toronto on December 22, 2012, at the age of 98.[1] She had previously joked that she planned to live to 100 in a 1991 interview with the Toronto Star, saying, "I will never surrender to old age."[1] She was survived by her only daughter, Christilot Boylen, two grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Bosanac, Alexandra (2012-12-23). "Canadian dance legend, Willy Blok Hanson, dies at 98". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2013-01-12.