Harry Bernstein – blog

Inspirational Person- Harry Bernstein (Margaret’s Father)

Born on October 4, 1917 in Chicago, the son of a Rabbi and the youngest of six children, Harry began his artistic pursuits with trombone lessons while still in grade school. As a teenager, a free ticket to a ballet performance changed his life forever. He began dance lessons, which eventually brought him to New York City where he performed as a soloist with the Graff Concert Ballet before serving in the Army Air Corps. Upon his return from Burma where he received three battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation for his active service from 1941 to 1946, he continued to pursue his studies in dance. He was accepted to the Julliard School where he studied with Margaret Craske, Martha Graham, Anthony Tudor, Louis Horst and Jose’ Limon and was the first male dancer to graduate from the school. He received a graduate degree in dance from New York University and continued his studies of dance with Alwin Nikolai, among others. Mr. Bernstein pursued his career in dance, performing with the Chicago Ballet Company, the Hanya Holm Dance Company, the Doris Humphrey Repertory Company, Ballet American, and Henry Street Playhouse.

In addition to his active career as both a modern and ballet dancer and soloist, Mr. Bernstein is known to the dance world as a choreographer, a prominent dance critic, and most significantly, as the former chairman of the dance department at Adelphi University in Garden City. He began his writing career in 1953,

as the editor and critic of the Dance Observer which he kept until 1964. At this juncture, Mr. Bernstein had already begun his commendable and lengthy career as an professor of dance beginning with a two year stint at Elmira College in 1954. In 1956, he took a position at Adelphi University in which he served as Professor until his retirement in 1988. In 1959, Mr. Bernstein was appointed chairman of the Dance Department, a post which he kept until 1972. During his chairmanship, he continued to choreograph substantial works for concert stage, ballet, opera and musical comedy, many of which were performed at the Adelphi Theatre by students and faculty members. Also during Mr. Bernstein’s chairmanship, the dance department at Adelphi grew and flourished, turning out scores of students who later became prominent on the arts scene as dancers and instructors of dance, and claiming national reputation through its renowned faculty including Viola Farber, Paul Taylor and Bunty Kelley. Bunty Kelley, the former soloist with Sadler Wells (Royal Ballet) and Agnes De Mille Dance Theater, later became his wife and lifetime partner.
Mr. Bernstein was the dance consultant for Choice, a long-time member of the Advisory Panel on the dance of the National Council on the Arts, and contributed to the Encyclopedia Americana . He was the founding member and vice chairman of the American College Dance Festival from 1971 to 1983, serving on the Executive Committee from 1973 to 1976. Mr. Bernstein served on the Advisory Panel of Dance for the National Endowment for the Arts from 1965 to 1971. Also, he served as Chairman of the Dance Committee and member of the Board of Directors Executive Committee for the Long Island Arts Festival from 1962 to 1965. He will always be remembered dancing.

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