Choreographer Norman Maen Dies
Emmy-winning Dance Icon
Norman Maen, a choreographer whose works were performed by some of the most renowned names in dance, died April 22, 2008, in Ballymoney, Northern Ireland. The cause of death was cancer. He was 76 years old.
Born Norman Maternaghan in Ballmena, Northern Ireland, in 1932, Maen originally trained as a teacher at Ballymena Academy and Stranmillis College, Belfast.
Shortly after he began teaching, Maen, who had been dancing since his youth, left his homeland to pursue a stage career in Vancouver, Canada. There, teaching by day and honing his dancing skills at night, he went on to work with the Alan Lund Dancers on a weekly series starring Robert Goulet
He eventually moved to Toronto, where he joined the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as part of its television dance team
Eight years later, Maen moved to New York, where he trained and danced with Broadway choreographer Jack Cole.
He then returned to Ireland, where he spent three years as station choreographer for public television station RTE. From there, he moved on to London, where he established his own dance troupe.
He also found work on the television series This Is Tom Jones, which allowed him to work with such stars as Liza Minnelli and Juliet Prowse, and for which he won a Primetime Emmy in 1970 for Outstanding Achievement in Choreography.
Over the ensuing years he drew acclaim for a 1976 episode of The Muppet Show for which he conceived a sequence titled “Swine Lake,” featuring Miss Piggy dancing with ballet legend Rudolph Nureyev.
Other stars with whom he collaborated included Gene Kelly, Ethel Merman, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Julie Andrews.
He also directed and choreographed the Royal Variety Performance on several occasions, and created a routine based on Debussy’s “L’Après-Midi d’une Faune” for Olympic champion skater, John Curry.
He is survived by his partner of nearly 47 years, Israeli director and choreographer Domy Reiter Soffer.