Beverly Schmidt Blossom was a modern dance choreographer, teacher, and solo artist. She was born on August 28, 1926 in Chicago and died on November 1, 2014. From 1966 to 1990, she was a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.
She received her bachelor’s degree in liberal arts in 1950 from Roosevelt University and her master’s degree in dance from Sarah Lawrence College in 1953. She moved and settled in New York City from 1953 to 1963. While in New York, she met Alwin Nikolais at the Henry Street Playhouse. Nikolais renamed the Henry Street Playhouse to Nikolais Dance Theater, and Blossom became one of the principal dancers.
From 1966 to 1990, she was a professor at the University of Illinois. She mentored well-known dancers including Meredith Monk and Henning Rübsam. At the university, she created group dances for students with state-of-the-art facilities in the new Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. She developed her unique style of dancing, lighting, and storytelling at the university. Her solo performances, often using props, were well received and seen as unique and innovative.
During her tenure at the university, she came up with her significant pieces: Dad’s Ties and Besame Mucho. In Dad’s Ties (1983), she laments the loss of her father, who died in 1968. A few years after her dad’s loss, Blossom and her mother found several ties from the closet. With humorous and melancholy elements, she expressed her mixed feelings toward her father.
In Besame Mucho, she wore an outfit where one half was a man’s suit and the other half a red sheer long dress. She acted both the male and the female roles interchangeably by rotating her body.
Blossom retired from the university in 1990, but continued her career back in New York and later Chicago. She received a Bessie Award in 1993 and Martha Hill Award in 2009.
After her passing, Blossom’s legacy was recognized and honored with two events. One was in New York, where dancers performed her choreography and held a panel on her life and influence in modern dance. The second was at the University of Illinois with a performance of her dance Brides and exhibits on her. Her archives are kept by the Beverly Blossom Foundation, started by her son.
-Krannert Center for Performing Arts. This is where Blossom often choreographed and performed while she was a professor at the University of Illinois.
–Dance Administration Building. This is where Blossom’s home department is currently located.
Bearnstow Journal . (n.d.). In Memoriam: Beverly Schmidt Blossom. Retrieved from http://bearnstowjournal.org/blossom-memoriam.htm
Beverly Blossom Foundation (n.d.). Retrieved from http://beverlyblossom.org/index.html
Beverly Blossom Foundation. (2017, Jan 8). Beverly Blossom: Dad’s Ties (Miller Theater, 1993). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhXDR5bqFBQ&feature=youtu.be
Beverly Blossom Foundation. (2019, Mar 28). Beverly Blossom: Besame Mucho (Marymount, 1994). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-neIlEIw3c&feature=youtu.be
Dance Notation Bureau. (n.d.). Dad’s ties. Retrieved from http://dancenotation.org/catalog/EditDanceDetails.aspx?DanceID=679
Dunning, J.(1999, September 19). Beverly Blossom, Soloist With a Singular Persona. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/1999/09/19/arts/dance-soloist-with-a-singular-persona.html
Dunning, J. (2014, November 4). Beverly Blossom, Solo Dancer With a ‘Voice,’ Dies at 88. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/04/arts/dance/beverly-blossom-solo-dancer-with-a-voice-dies-at-88.html.
Marks, A. (2015). In Memoriam. Dance Teacher, 37(2), 16. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.proxy2.library.illinois.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ibh&AN=100803892&site=eds-live&scope=site
Merli, M. (2019, June 25). Life Remembered: Blossom ‘was driven to create work’. Retrieved from https://www.news-gazette.com/news/life-remembered-blossom-was-driven-to-create-work/article_f9254ad1-d5a3-5001-a795-ef6a13c12e94.html .