During the 1960s, Suzushi Hanayagi ventured alone to New York in an unusual act of courage for a Japanese woman of her generation and armed only with training in traditional dance to forge a new form of Western-style modern dance.

Now 80, she sits in a wheelchair in a home for the elderly, a frail woman with gray hair, a shadow of her former robust self. She mutters and smiles, lost in her own world, a victim of Alzheimer’s disease. But her influence is still felt.

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