Helen Forsberg, longtime reporter, critic and editor at The Salt Lake Tribune, died Tuesday at age 60 from complications of liver disease.
Forsberg was known for her coverage of Salt Lake City’s dance scene and for her support of the arts and causes such as AIDS prevention and research. She became a passionate and knowledgeable collector of works by Utah artists, many of whom she had profiled in The Tribune. Forsberg also was a features editor at the paper during her 27-year career, overseeing book reviews, visual-arts coverage and the newspaper’s former Sunday magazine.
As a dance critic, Forsberg wrote of seminal moments in Utah dance history: the passing of the baton from legendary Ballet West founder Willam Christensen to Bruce Marks; the 1976 renovation of the Capitol Theatre into a showcase venue for Ballet West, Repertory Dance Theatre and Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company. Her expertise extended beyond Utah with profiles of international figures such as Mikhail Baryshnikov and Bill T. Jones.
Her feature stories and reviews were valued by performers and audiences alike.
"Helen loved being part of the dance world, loved being with dancers, choreographers and directors," said Marks. "She did a great deal of learning on the job and year by year made a greater contribution to our art form through her interviews, reportage and reviews. She brought caring and kindness to her work, and our thriving dance community in Utah has a lot to thank her for."
Johann Jacobs, executive director of Ballet West, said Forsberg was "a fair and honest critic."
"She was generous with her praise of our company, but fair in expressing things she did not care for."
Forsberg had three passions: dance, visual art and politics, recalled Nancy Melich, The Tribune’s former drama critic. She had a lifelong fascination with the Kennedy clan and was an early and enthusiastic campaign worker for Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon, according to Melich. After her retirement from The Tribune in 2000, she served on the boards of RDT and Very Special Arts Utah.
Colleague Randy Peterson, a longtime arts copy editor at The Tribune, remembers Forsberg as "a generous spirit" who was "way ahead of the curve on gay rights and support for AIDS research."
Survivors include husband Lou Arnold, daughters Mary "Miah" Arnold and Piper Regennitter, mother Vivienne Forsberg, and sisters Suzanne Forsberg, Patricia Forsberg, Lucy Kathleen Clixby and Patricia Carkeek.
Services are planned for May 2 at 3:30 p.m. at First Unitarian Church, 569 S. 1300 East, Salt Lake City.
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