Celebrating Elizabeth Bergmann: Alumni Voices

by Dance

OFA Dance Program Director Elizabeth Bergmann is retiring in February 2011. Current students will honor Ms. Bergmann by performing her choreography at this weekend's performances by Harvard-Radcliffe Modern Dance Company. Alumni add their voices to the celebration by remembering her impact on their lives.

Elizabeth Waterhouse '01

Dancer, The Forsythe Company

Elizabeth Bergmann arrived at Harvard during my senior year, when I decided to apply to MFA programs in Dance instead of PhD programs in Physics. I took my first improvisation class with her in the fall of 2000. Ten years later, I’m still improvising. Without her support, I would never have chosen a career as a dancer.

Lila Gollogly '04

MD/PhD student, University of Illinois

Ms. Bergmann was so supportive of us putting on our performances. What we wanted to do required a huge commitment from the staff. If we were there till midnight, so were a bunch of staff and faculty. Ms. Bergmann always made it a point to attend our performances, to give us choreographic opportunities, to network for us and to find us good faculty.

My Harvard dance experience showed me that higher education and dance were not incompatible. I thought I would have to give up something I loved doing when I went to college and instead ended up dancing a TON. Now I stubbornly refuse to stop dancing despite a crazy medical student/investigator schedule.

Sonia Todorova ’07

PhD Student, Statistics, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

At Harvard I was able to learn and grow as a dancer and a choreographer in a way I had never before imagined and still cannot imagine possible anywhere else. Harvard’s Dance Program is constantly evolving into the wonderful phenomenon it is because of the very special people who work there. But there is one person who is the heart and soul of the Dance Program: Liz Bergmann is the one we thank for making it all possible. I have heard these words many times before on the many occasions she deserved our awe and praise. Now, years later, I feel more than ever that we did not say them enough.

Marin Orlosky Randow '07-'08

OFA Dance Associate, Freelance dancer, choreographer, and aerialist

The breadth and depth of my dance education at Harvard is exceeded only by the amount of genuine care and passion I experienced working with guest artists, Dance Program staff, and with Liz. She has cultivated an environment where there is always room to grow and people who genuinely want to help you succeed, no matter how strange or ambitious your ideas may be.

Patrick Quinn '10

Microsoft employee, Freelance choreographer

The most substantial thing I learned at Harvard was how to create and design movement. Liz was willing to take someone with no experience and tons of motivation, and then taught me to choreograph. It was slow, difficult, frustrating, oftentimes painful, and rewarding. Everything I know, I learned with her. I fully intend on continuing to choreograph for the rest of my life. The switch has been flipped in my brain and I can’t turn it off; I am now a choreographer.

James Fuller '10

Dancer, Ballet Austin

Most people are surprised when they find out that I concentrated in philosophy at Harvard, but they grow less surprised when I explain what dance at Harvard is like. Harvard’s Dance Program fosters the openness and maturity required of professional dancers. I owe my current job and much of the joy I had in college to Harvard’s dance community and to Ms. Bergmann.