Tobi Tobias, a dance critic who wrote for New York Magazine, Dance Magazine, and Bloomberg News, among other media outlets, died at her home in Manhattan on February 13. She was eighty-one years old. In 2012, Tobias was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism for her blog Seeing Things, which was published by ArtsJournal.
Born Tobi Carol Bernstein in 1938, Tobias spent her childhood in Brooklyn before earning her bachelor’s degree from Barnard College and her master’s degree from New York University. Tobias claimed her interest in dance stemmed from a photograph she saw in Life magazine of Diana Adam—one of the principal dancers of leading choreographer George Balanchine’s company, the New York City Ballet, which he founded with Lincoln Kirstein.
In 1980, Tobias was named the dance critic for New York Magazine. She previewed seasons and reviewed performances by various companies, including Alvin Ailey, American Ballet Theatre, DanceGalaxy, and the Stuttgart Ballet, as well as exhibitions such as “Giorgio Armani” (2001) at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. She also wrote extensively on the Royal Danish Ballet and its Bournonville heritage, a classical dance technique invented by the nineteenth-century performer August Bournonville. She compiled an oral history about the dancing style, learning Danish so that she could conduct interviews with artists from the company. In recognition of her efforts, she was knighted by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark in 1992.
“I never really think of my writing as a career,” Tobias said in a 2012 interview. “It is simply what I do.”