Man killed in Minneapolis grocery store was acclaimed dancer

Four people pose for a photo
Robert Skafte (top) in a publicity photo for "Three by Tennessee (Williams)"
Courtesy photo

Robert Skafte, the man killed in a Minneapolis grocery store on Friday, was also a dancer known for his performances at Ballet of the Dolls, an eclectic and offbeat dance company.

Skafte, 66, was killed while working at Oak Grove Grocery in the city’s Loring Park neighborhood. Minneapolis police say a suspect has been arrested in the case.

“It’s tragic,” said Myron Johnson, a friend of Skafte and fellow dancer. “It’s hard to even to imagine that it’s real.”

According to Westside School of Ballet, a Santa Monica, Calif., dance company, Skafte trained there before joining Kansas City Ballet in 1984. After dancing in Kansas City for a decade, he moved to Minneapolis.

Grow the Future of Public Media

MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!

Johnson, founder of Ballet of the Dolls, said Skafte witnessed a Dolls performance, loved it and soon joined the company.

A black and white photo of a man with a dog
Robert Skafte
Courtesy photo

“He was a beautiful dancer, but he was a great, great actor,” Johnson said. “He separated himself out from a lot of dancers. He was 100 percent present on stage. Just remarkable to watch.”

Skafte, a lanky dancer, was known for his roles in “Hello Dalí,” a dance and theater production about the life of painter Salvador Dalí, “Carmen” and a disco version of “Giselle.”

Said Johnson, “No one loved ‘Giselle’ more than Robert in that production.”

After his dance career ended, Skafte worked at Oak Grove Grocery, located across the street from where he lived. Neighbors who shopped at the store gathered for an impromptu memorial on Friday.

Stephanie Grey danced with Skafte at Ballet of the Dolls. “He had the innocence of a child with the wisdom of an old soul,” Grey said. “I can’t even begin to wrap my brain around the loss.”

Added Johnson, “He was so sensitive and kind to everyone. I loved him with all my heart.”

Minneapolis police are investigating Skafte’s death. The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office has not filed charges in the case.