In Memoriam: Beverly Schmidt Blossom

August 28, 1926–November 1, 2014

We were saddened to learn of the death of Beverly Blossom on Saturday, November 1, from cancer. A funeral service was held on Friday, November 7, at the Michalik Funeral Home in Chicago.

In summer 2015, Michael Blossom interviewed Ruth Grauert in which her remembrances of Beverly are prominently featured.

On the anniversary of her passing, a Memorial Gala, with guest artists from around the country, was held on November 1, 2015, at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College in New York.

Beverly’s son, Michael Blossom has established The Beverly Blossom Foundation to sustain, enhance and promote the legacy of Beverly Blossom in ways that are of educational and artistic benefit to dancers, choreographers, scholars and the public.

See the following obituaries:

Beverly with her son, Michael Blossom, 2011
Beverly Blossom was a principal dancer with the Alwin Nikolais Dance Theater from 1953 to 1963. On a leave of absence from the Nikolais company, under a Fulbright grant, she studied at the Mary Wigman school in West Berlin from 1957 to 1958, She produced concerts of her own choreography in New York in the 1960s, participating in the development of the Filmstage Theatre of actor/poet Roberts Blossom, to whom she was married from 1966 to 1970. She choreographed and performed more than 100 works and has received numerous grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council for the Arts, Illinois Arts Council, and private foundations. She served as professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 1967 to 1990 and thereafter as Professor Emerita. She held a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Roosevelt University, Chicago, and a master’s degree in dance from Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, New York.

Upon retiring she renewed her career as a performer, presenting her solo works in such ven­ues as Jacob’s Pillow in Massachusetts and the Joyce Theater in New York. In 1993, Beverly was awarded a New York Dance and Performance Award (a “Bessie”) for sustained achieve­ment, and she is the recipient of the 2009 Martha Hill Award for lifetime achievement in dance. Beverly con­tinued performing, teaching, and choreographing for her own company, Blossom & Co., Inc. In October 2003 she participated in the Alwin Nikolais Legacy Forum at Hunter College in New York City. In De­cem­ber 2010, she performed in the Alwin Nikolais Centennial Alumni Concerts at Hunter College.

Beverly Blossom performs Dad's Ties at the Miller Theater in New York in 1993.

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Beverly Blossom performs Besame Mucho at Marymount, 1994

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Photos of Beverly in Performance


The last work of Beverly’s I saw was Brides, a slow, slow procession of twelve gorgeously attired “characters,” from a child bride to a six-footer in drag—her commentary on matrimony! Each of Beverly’s dances seem somehow to tell us something of ourselves because she looked at life and celebrated in dance what she saw, or could not see. What she told us she could not see was the realm beyond. Her words seem to echo... Nik, Nik, Where Are You? (a piece per­formed at Baruch College in 2005, lamenting the passing of Nikolais), and now they have morphed into “Bev, Bev, where are you?” —Ruth Grauert

My remembrance of Bev is that her choreography always inspired me. She contributed to my enjoyment of choreo­graphing. Her ability to look at or experience something and then translate that into dance/theatre was wonderful. I am so glad I had the experience to dance with her in Nik’s company. I will miss her, her humor and friendship.  —Coral Martindale Aubert

To those of us who danced with Beverly she was a guiding light. She was always “in the moment” and deserved praise for her intelligence and creativity. We all loved her. I was fortunate to dance in her choreographic interpretation of Vivaldi's Four Seasons and will never forget her devotion to the work and interpretation of the music. It was a real tour de force, and it was admired greatly by those watching the performance. I will miss Beverly and the precious moments spent with her.  —Julie Hamilton Pleus

As a solo artist, Beverly Blossom had no equal. I saw every performance she gave in New York City. While known for her theatrical and witty dances, she also worked brilliantly in pure movement. Her work Nine Points in Time was an amazing exploration of time. Another of my favorites was Dad's Ties. She will remain vividly in my thoughts.  —Mimi Garrard

Perhaps the best experience I had in modern dance was working with Beverly. I was her assistant/dance captain at Marymount in 1994, and she went on to choreograph a solo for me, Muse, which I performed at Henning Rübsam’s 10th anniversary performance of his company, Sensedance. Bev and I became friends, and after she moved from New York, I visited her at her house, which was near the city of Chicago, and we often spoke by phone. She was a wonderful person and a true artist.  —Christine Reisner

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