Beverly Schmidt Blossom

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Beverly Schmidt Blossom (born 1926) is an American modern dancer, choreographer and teacher. She was an original member and soloist with the Alwin Nikolais Dance Theatre, a modern dance choreographer for Illinois Dance Theatre, Blossom & Co. and others, and a Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.


She holds a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Roosevelt University, Chicago, and a master’s degree in dance from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York.[1]

New York Career[edit]

She was a principal dancer of the Alwin Nikolais Dance Theatre from 1953 to 1963, dancing alongside Murray Louis and Phyllis Lamhut.[2] She then 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.[3]

University of Illinois[edit]

Blossom was Professor of Dance at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana from 1967 to 1990 and is currently a Professor Emeritus. She has choreographed and performed more than l00 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.[1]

Solo career[edit]

She renewed her career as a performer, presenting her solo works at the 1988 Jacob's Pillow, Massachusetts “Splash” Festival, and at the Joyce Theatre 1989 showcase “Womanworks.”[3]

New York Times Reviews[edit]

Ms. Blossom was called “a rare performer” by Jennifer Dunning in The New York Times, who further described the artist: “A zany, hilarious goof of a clown, Miss Blossom is also a tragic figure of great dignity, bringing an audience to tears and laughter as her dances ravel and unravel, simultaneously, before one’s eyes.” (1985) In a 1994 Times review Dance critic Anna Kisselgoff described her tribute to her mentor Nikolais after his death: "Here, she is the tattered clown with a suitcse, gazing at a shattered Styrofoam mannekin. Reassembling the figure, she swept it into a souring curve. but this was only a remembrance of poetic time past, a strong tribute to the death of an artist."[4]

Dad's Ties[edit]

The dance solo "Dad's Ties" was notated by the Dance Notation Bureau using Labanotation.[5]

Documentary of Roberts Blossom[edit]

Blossom appeared in a documentary about her former husband, actor Roberts Blossom in 2000, titled, Full Blossom: The Life and Times of Actor/Poet Roberts Blossom.[6]


Since her retirement, Beverly Blossom has choreographed for her own company (Blossom & Co. Inc.), in addition to guest performing and teaching.[1][3] She currently lives and works in Chicago, in the South Loop.[1][2] In December 2010, Blossom appeared in the Nikolais Centennial Alumni Concerts at Hunter College, speaking at both presentations and presenting one dance.[7]


Meredith Monk studied with Blossom during Monk's junior and senior years at Sarah Lawrence College. According to Peter Sciscioli, Assistant Manager for Meredith Monk/The House Foundation, "She was very important to her as an artist and person."[8] She continues to be a mentor to Henning Rübsam, who first studied with her at the Nikolais studio and then performed her work starting in 1994. Other interpreters of Blossom's dances include Betsy Fisher, Cynthia Pipkin-Doyle and Christine Reisner.[9]

Alumni Funding[edit]

The Beverly Blossom and Carey Erickson Alumni Dance Award is offered to dance alumni of the University of Illinois, Urbana. Richard Erickson established this endowment in memory of his brother Carey and in honor of Carey's mentor Beverly Blossom. The award will enable Alumni to return to the campus to teach, perform, choreograph, and otherwise enhance Dance at Illinois.