Longtime Austin dance leader, dancer, teacher, choreographer, businessman and father Greg Easley died Sunday at age 60.
He collapsed after a run.
A native Austinite, Easley worked closely with Ballet Austin, Austin Ballet Theater, Austin Contemporary Ballet, Austin Civic Ballet, Zach Theatre and Zilker Theatre Productions, among many other arts groups.
"Greg was one of the most gentle and kind souls I’ve ever known," Ballet Austin artistic director Stephen Mills said Monday. "Conversely, he was quick and funny. He was a large part of the building of the dance community of Austin and will be missed."
In 1993, Easley took over as artistic director of Austin Contemporary Ballet, which was founded in 1986. The company was disbanded because of financial troubles in 1998 after he resigned in 1997, according to an inventory of his papers archived at the Austin History Center.
Warm and affable, Easley, born Feb. 2, 1960, was a steady presence on the scene over the decades. One his most colorful chapters involved regular ballet performances at the Armadillo World Headquarters when Austin Civic Ballet leader Stanley Hall parted ways with the company that would become Ballet Austin. Easley inherited the estate and papers of Hall and kept the memory of that former troupe alive through the years.
A ballet teacher since 1980, Easley was also active in the nonprofit, government and business worlds. He worked for People’s Community Clinic and the Texas Department of Public Safety. He also founded Candle Daddy, which produced singular and funny candles.
Almost immediately after his death, tributes poured in on social media.
"I am in complete shock," Dasha Tcharikova wrote on Facebook. "Greg Easley taught my mom, my dad, my dance teachers ... and many other dancers all over. I am truly saddened by this and my heart goes out to his family right now. He will be remembered as a wonderful dad, husband, creator and just overall happy person."
"Greg Easley, you were such a soft, gentle soul," Ballet Austin’s Paul Michael Bloodgood wrote on Facebook. "I always felt such a calmness in your presence. Praying for your family in this incredibly difficult time."
"I first met Greg when he was still in his teens, and we did ’Once Upon a Mattress' together at Zach Theatre," said Paul Beutel, who ran the Paramount Theatre for years and retired recently from the Long Center for the Performing Arts. "And I was fortunate enough to work with him several times on various projects at the Paramount. A kinder, more loving soul you could not hope to meet."
He leaves behind his husband, James Allen Bryant, and their son, Davis.
"My heart aches for all of us in the theater and dance community in Austin," actor Cathie Sheridan wrote on Facebook, "but so much more for James and Davis."