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  • "Rest in peace Sonia, thank you for all the wonderful times,..."
  • "Rest in peace, Grandma. You were a beautiful person both..."
    - Tracy Gold
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PETERSON--Sonia d'Ancona, passed away peacefully at her home in Washington, D.C. on December 4, 2012. She was born in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1915, the daughter of Simon and Rose Efron. Her father was a principal in the prominent publishing company Brockhaus-Efron, which published the first Russian language encyclopedia. In 1917, the family left Russia, through Finland, and settled in Berlin where she received her early education. In 1932, the family moved to Paris, where Sonia danced with the Ballet Russe as a classical dancer, as well as appearing in such musicals as On Your Toes and White Horse Inn. Because of her extraordinary beauty and elegance, she also modeled for Vogue and Femina for several years. In 1938, she married Benjamin d'Ancona in Paris and together, in 1939, they left France for the United States. Settling in Woodmere, New York, Sonia channeled her love of the ballet by creating a school of ballet for children which she conducted for 13 years. Thereafter, she taught with the Melissa Hayden School of Ballet and directed the Ballet Department of the June Taylor School. Along with her second husband, Victor H. Peterson, Sonia moved to Washington, D.C., where she taught exercise classes based upon classical ballet techniques, which she called "Balletone" to her devoted students, her "swans". She taught and mentored her students until only a few weeks before her death. Sonia Peterson is survived by her two daughters, Lana (Justin) Walder and Irene (Roger) Zuckerman, four grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Burial will be private. A celebration of Sonia's life will be held for family and friends in Washington, D.C., at a date to be announced. The family would appreciate that any donations be made to Capital Caring, 50 F Street, N.W., Suite 3300, Washington, D.C. 20001.

Published in The New York Times on Dec. 6, 2012