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Freak accident sidelines choreographer Deborah Jinza Thayer

Posted by: under Dance, Minnesota artists Updated: June 7, 2012 - 11:51 AM

Deborah Jinza Thayer in a 30-foot-long dress designed by Sonya Berlovitz that she planned to wear for her solo work "Diana Takes A Swim." (photo by Xavier Tavera).

By Caroline Palmer

Choreographer Deborah Jinza Thayer was one of two women injured Sunday afternoon when a car mistakenly put in reverse crashed into the outdoor patio of the Finnish Bistro in St. Paul's St. Anthony Park neighborhood. Thayer has cracked vertebrae, fractured ribs and a partially collapsed lung, according to her sister, Rebecca Thayer. She is likely to remain hospitalized for a few more days.

Rebecca Surmont, another performing artist who was with Thayer, suffered injuries to her ankle.

Thayer was preparing to premiere her solo piece "Diana Takes a Swim" June 14-17 in the New Works 4 Weeks Festival at Red Eye Theater, on a shared program with theater artist Stephen Peabody. Now she can't perform, but Red Eye managing director Miriam Must said several local choreographers and students connected with Thayer are pulling together to dance in her stead -- and in her honor (as well as Surmont's). They include Rosy Simas, Penelope Freeh and the troupe Three Dances, with more names to come. Heidi Geier will serve as MC. The performance will be called "Dances for Deborah and Rebecca."

"It’s going to be lovely," said Must. “The show must go on and as a community we make that happen.” Peabody will still perform as planned.

Although Thayer does have health insurance, the self-employed choreographer will face financial hurdles because of lost income from teaching, among other activities. According to her sister, there has been "a great outpouring of support" but there are no formal plans yet to assist Thayer, since she is focusing on her recovery. Once Thayer has an opportunity to assess her situation, information will be shared about ways to help out.

Red Eye does plan to pay Thayer her performance fee as a donation to support her work, said Must.


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