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Mrs Dunlop MacTavish was born in Dunedin in 1920.
She travelled to Europe in 1935 and studied with dancer and choreographer Gertrud Bodenwieser and later joined the Bodenwieser Ballet.
As many of the dancers were Jewish, she and others left Europe to escape Nazi persecution.
The dancers were then based in Australia and toured New Zealand during the '40s and '50s.
She opened her own dance studio in 1958 and set up Dunedin Dance Theatre in 1963.
She was made an honorary member of Dance Aotearoa New Zealand at a ceremony at the Regent Theatre in 2017.
University of Otago Tourism Prof and filmmaker Wiebke Finkler told the Otago Daily Times in 2009 Mrs Dunlop MacTavish was "the mother of modern dance in New Zealand and one of Dunedin's treasures''.