ROCKPORT: Ina B. Hahn died at her home at Windhover in Rockport on January 22, 2016, surrounded by her family. She was the oldest child of Simon and Belle Aronson. Born in Dorchester, Ina was raised in Newton and graduated from Newton High School. She graduated from Wellesley College in 1950 as an Honors Scholar, majoring in English Literature; however, dance was always her prime love and passion.
Ina started dancing at the age of three and continued throughout her life. While at Wellesley, Ina married Herbert Hahn, and after college the couple moved to New York City where she had a successful career on Broadway. She appeared in the original 1950’s Broadway productions of "Can-Can," "The King and I," and "Plain and Fancy," working with the choreographers Michael Kidd, Jerome Robbins, Helen Tamiris and Agnes DeMille. Originally an understudy for Gwen Verdon in "Can-Can," she replaced Gwen, and Ina became a Broadway star overnight. Columnist Walter Winchell gave her rave reviews for that role which helped launch Ina’s Broadway career. Her last role in a musical was as Louise in "Carousel" at the North Shore Music Theatre when she was pregnant with her first child.
In addition to Ina’s Broadway career, she was invited to perform with both modern dance pioneers Martha Graham and Doris Humphrey. Ina said that she chose to dance with Doris because her works were more about the community and less about the “star-soloist.” In addition, Humphrey’s dances used the principle of “fall and recovery,” a concept Ina embraced. She worked under the direction of Doris Humphrey at Connecticut College where Ina attended the American Dance Festival. She also took Humphrey’s composition class at the 92nd Street Y in New York City receiving a full scholarship given by Doris Humphrey herself. Later Ina went on to reconstruct many of Humphrey’s works from Labanotation and Ina’s “Windhover Dance Company” performed them.
In 1957, Ina and Herb’s love for the ocean and natural surroundings inspired them to move to Rockport to raise their family. A decade later, they purchased the last working farm on Cape Ann and transformed the buildings into creative arts spaces. In 1968, Windhover Center for the Performing Arts was born, starting as a summer creative arts camp for girls which continued until 1984. At that point, Windhover became a non-profit foundation focusing on dance workshops, classes, performances, retreats and symposia, and it continues to thrive today.
In the 1960’s, in addition to Windhover, Ina began choreographing and teaching dance. She taught at Radcliffe College, The Boston Conservatory, Endicott College, Bradford College, Smith College, Northeastern University, Walnut Hill, the Boston Arts Academy and many other schools. She presented her own works through the Windhover Dance Company, performing in Boston, Cambridge, at European Festivals and all over the North Shore for the next 50 years.
Ina was certified by the Dance Notation Bureau as a reconstructor of classic Modern Dance works. She reconstructed the works of Doris Humphrey for the Windhover Dance Company as well as for the students at the Boston Arts Academy and members of the Karen Peterson Dance Company in Miami, Florida. According to current faculty at the Boston Arts Academy, all four works that Ina reconstructed “brought the house down! Guests were spellbound and not going anywhere.”
The art and history of Cape Ann were a source of creative inspiration for Ina. Dance-theater productions at Windhover which she produced and choreographed include Percy MacKaye’s “Dogtown Common,” “The Battle for Pigeon Cove Harbor,” “Made in Folly Cove” and “The Artists of Lanesville.” Several of these productions were also performed at the Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester Stage Company, Beeman School and Gloucester City Hall.
Ina was the recipient of The Walker Hancock Award in 1999 in recognition of her “outstanding contributions to the arts and humanities” on Cape Ann. It was presented by the Mayor of Gloucester, Bruce Tobey, in October 1999.
During her last decade, Ina wrote and produced a film on Doris Humphrey, her dance mentor. Titled: “A New Dance for America: The Choreography, Teachings, and Legacy of Doris Humphrey,” the film premiered to much acclaim at Lincoln Center’s “Dance on Camera Film Festival” in 2011.
Ina loved living on Cape Ann surrounded by the plethora of natural beauty, especially the granite. She rode her bike around the Cape for years, loved walking daily around Halibut Point State Park located nearby her home, and enjoyed swimming in Folly Cove and Steel Derrick during the summers. For the last five years, she produced site-specific “Quarry Dances” with New York-based Dušan Týnek Dance Theatre, combining her passion for the granite quarrying industry with her love of dance… celebrating the two in the natural environment of quarries on Cape Ann.
Ina lived a meaningful and full life and was an inspiration for many creative students, friends and family throughout the country. Her vibrant spirit will live on through all who knew and loved her.
She is survived by her two daughters, Lisa Hahn who resides at Windhover in Rockport, as well as in New York City and Lauri Hahn who resides at Windhover, her brothers, Martin Aronson of Brookline, and Arthur Aronson of West Lafayette, Ind., and her grandchildren Pamela and Herbie Lawrence. She was predeceased by her husband, Herbert Hahn; daughter, Pamela Hahn and longtime companion, Richard Winik.
A Memorial Service, celebrating her life, will be held in May 2016 at Windhover. Please check the Windhover website in the future for details. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the nonprofit organization, Windhover Foundation, Box 2249, Rockport, MA. 01966 which her daughter Lisa is continuing. Email: Windhover@verizon.net, 978-546-3611 .