Allegra Fuller Snyder
August 28, 1927 – July 11, 2021
ALLEGRA FULLER SNYDER
August 28, 1927 - July 11, 2021
Allegra Snyder, professor emerita and former chair of the Department of Dance at UCLA, and a founder of the Buckminster Fuller Institute, died July 11 at her apartment in Stroudwater Lodge, Westbrook, Maine, at the age of 93. The daughter of R. Buckminster Fuller and Anne Hewlett Fuller, Allegra was born in Chicago. Her primary education was at the Dalton School in New York City, a learning experience that she cherished. On graduation day from Bennington College in 1951, Allegra married Robert Snyder, who had recently won the Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary in 1950 for his film on Michelangelo. Allegra attended the School of American Ballet and studied with Martha Graham during her years at Bennington.
After the birth of her two children, Alexandra Fuller Snyder and Jaime Lawrence Snyder, Allegra and Bob drove west to Los Angeles. With her children in school, Allegra enrolled at UCLA, earning a Master’s in Dance in 1967 and then joined the faculty there. She retired from UCLA in 1991. During her long career at UCLA, Allegra developed many curriculum innovations concerning dance, ethnography, culture, and art. In addition to serving as chair of the Dept. of Dance at UCLA, Allegra directed the World Arts and Cultures interdisciplinary program which became the Dept. of World Arts and Cultures/Dance in 1995. She researched and lectured widely around the world including a year in England on a Fulbright Grant and a year in Kerala, India, on a sabbatical.
She was long-active with the Congress on Research in Dance (CORD) and the National Endowment of Arts, dance division. Snyder was a visiting professor of performance studies at New York University from 1982-83 and was honorary visiting professor at the University of Surrey, Guildford, England from 1983-84. She also taught at CalArts and at Naropa Institute.
Following the death of her father, Buckminster Fuller, in 1983, Allegra took a significant role in determining a path to preserve her father’s work and to find ways to promote its relevance going forward. She was a passionate and articulate educator on the principles of her father’s work and encouraged many to think independently and follow their unique experience in life.
Allegra enjoyed and took a keen interest in the growth of her two grandchildren, Olivia Allegra May and Rowan Keith May, and of her two step grandchildren, Mira Kennedy and Elizabeth Demaray. Allegra’s husband, Robert Snyder, died in 2004. After 55 years in Southern California, Allegra packed up her bags and moved back home to NYC. She spent eight years living in Murray Hill fully engaged in New York dance and culture, as well as reconnecting with life-long friends and family. Throughout her life she spent many summers in Penobscot Bay, Maine, on Bear Island, which will be her final resting place.
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Allegra Fuller Snyder
November 18, 2021
Allegra…ever in dance
So often I have pinched myself with these words, “How am I so lucky to have her in my field of inspiration,” and at all times she and her glorious energy have been there. She has been like a dream teacher, and I suspect will continue to be so going forward. Any time I have thought of Allegra, a wash of peaceful, uplifting energy washed over me.
It is because of Allegra that I ever found out who I am. As my college mentor, I had frequent meetings with Allegra. Always, days before, I felt great energy welling up inside. Ideas and concepts I had been struggling with found clarity in my writing…everything seemed to magically come together with ease. That was even before the high impact meetings I became super-charged by.
Forty-six years have gone by, and she has been my friend, humbly insisting she was just a normal person. We had periodic meetings during which we exchanged what was going on in our lives, just like with any other friend, and always I came away feeling more loved than ever before; a powerful quality of love that is difficult to describe. And Allegra was “normal” in every sense of the word, yet extraordinary and powerful in her loving way.
She taught me almost entirely by her energy, a subject we delved into at great length at UCLA, where my focus was on shamanic healing, especially through dance.
In anticipation of our meetings over the last many years I wondered if this would be the time she handed me the nougat of wisdom, the pearl of knowingness that would set me straight, open up my life and make everything all better. Haha.
While I always wanted Allegra to tell me which path to take, how to or not to respond to a situation, that was never to happen. Instead, she gave me some things much more valuable; she gave me immeasurable love, unbounded energy and the ability to trust my own knowing.
I will miss this dear woman, the most influential person of my life.
Love you forever, Allegra
July 20, 2021
Dear Allegra ~ I am lucky to have been able to spend time with you before you moved East. We packed in so many deep conversations and strong opinions while we drove to an event or gathered together with friends in LA. Although I met you many decades ago, I appreciate the richness of the more recent times as I followed the full circle you have now come to. Much love for you, your spirit and all those magnificent atoms swirling around now!
July 17, 2021
I remain grateful for your mentorship, wisdom, and generosity.
Thank you dear Allegra and my respects to you - Malathi Iyengar
July 15, 2021
I met Allegra for my first and last time during the 28th ICTM (International Council of Traditional Music) Symposium in Korčula, Croatia in 2014. She was accompanied by her grandson on that trip and she gave the closing speech to the symposium. I didn’t know much about her then, but I knew enough that she was saying something very important. So, I recorded parts of it, on film and audio, thinking “I must listen to this sometime in the future“.
Now, the future has arrived.
What strikes me about the speech she delivered 7 years ago on July 17, 2014 was the timeliness of the contents. She talked about “culture” as being a relatively new concept since the late 19th century — how it grew from a singular to a plural noun, “cultures”. As we in Canada continue to mourn and struggle to come to terms with our colonial history, I am reminded of Allegra’s prophetic claim, that “we may someday be struggling to reconstruct this body of wisdom to secure the developed world’s future. I say we are in that struggle”. We are also living through the consequences of “the ecological issues raised by global warming and rainforest depletion” as mentioned by Allegra in her speech. She ended her speech by saying, “Planet Earth needs you to survive”.
Where do we go from here? Every passing of a legend calls upon a new generation of hope and discoveries made possible by the legacies left behind. I am grateful for the brief encounter we shared on the magical, historical island of Croatia. I pay my respect to this giant of a woman, despite her unassuming height and everything about her that put you at ease in her presence. I thank Allegra for the enormity of her spirit and most of all, for her gentle nudge that wakes us up nonetheless, to the fact how dance, nearly forgotten, remains the very essence of what empowers us as human beings.
July 14, 2021
Dear Alex & Sam,
I just wanted to share my sincere condolences. I feel so fortunate to have met Allegra late in her life and to have shared one journey to NYC with her where she regaled me with her life story. And what a story. She was a treasure and a pioneer in dance education and left her enduring mark on our field.
All the best,
July 14, 2021
In 1997, I worked on a grant proposal with Allegra Fuller Snyder and got to know her. One day I took my son (who was around 7 at the time) to her house In Pacific Palisades--a magnificent place, with a large geodesic dome In the back yard. My son said to Allegra: "that's a geodesic dome. It's made up of triangles!" With her twinkling eyes, she gently concurred. I also was fortunate to help a little with the Bucky exhibit at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine that also featured some of Laban's drawings. We (my husband and I) spent a little time with Allegra more recently, when she came to Washington, DC to see a play about her father, and then when she attended the symposium on Dancing Ireni and Choreometrics that was held at University of Maryland as a part of my Dorothy Madden professorship. Allegra was always gracious and such a huge supporter of her students (including Miriam Phillips) and colleagues. She will be remembered and missed.