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RIP Ann Barzel

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Here's a link to the New York Times obit, which is also in the dance section.

Ann Barzel, 101, Dies; a Writer Whose Passion Was Dance


Published: February 21, 2007

Ann Barzel, a dance writer and historian whose tenacity and passion for the art form were legendary, died on Feb. 12 in Chicago. She was 101.

What a long and intersting life. I just loved her in the film, "Ballets Russes." She certainly had spunk!

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We just received the following press release announcing a tribute to Ann Barzel, emphasis in blue added:



Speakers to include Gerald Arpino, Joffrey Ballet; Lou Conte, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago;

Daniel Duell, Ballet Chicago; Joel Hall, Joel Hall Dancers; Ken Price, Palmer House Hilton and

Lois Weisberg, Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Chicago

CHICAGO - Colleagues, members of Chicago’s dance community and representatives of the Newberry Library will gather on Monday, April 23 at 5 p.m. at the Chicago Sinai Congregation, 15 W. Delaware Place, Chicago for a tribute to Ann Barzel, dance writer and historian, who passed away February 12 at the age of 101. Immediately following the tribute, attendees will proceed to the Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton St., where David Spadafora, president and librarian of the Newberry Library, will present a toast to Barzel and her accomplishments. A select exhibit of prized items from the Ann Barzel Dance Research Collection will also be on display. Reservations are requested by April 15 to 312.255.3778. Seating is limited. The event and reception are free and open to the public.

Speaking at the tribute will be Gerald Arpino, founder and artistic director, Joffrey Ballet; Lou Conte, founder, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago; Daniel Duell, founder and artistic director, Ballet Chicago; Joel Hall, co-founder and artistic director, Joel Hall Dancers; Ken Price, director of public relations, Palmer House Hilton and Lois Weisberg, Commissioner, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Chicago. Richard Christiansen, former chief critic of the Chicago Tribune will serve as moderator. The event will also feature a video montage commemorating Ann and her accomplishments, courtesy of Scott Silberstein, HMS Media.

“I'm most honored to have been asked to moderate this tribute to Ann,” says Christiansen. “She was a true visionary, an invaluable historian, and a beloved colleague. To have this opportunity to join with representatives of Chicago's dance community to honor her memory and acknowledge her extensive contributions to the world of dance is a privilege and a pleasure.”

Ann Barzel was born in Minneapolis on Dec. 13, 1905. Her family moved to Des Moines, Iowa in 1914 and it was there, at the Jewish Settlement House, that she took her first dance lessons. Barzel’s family moved to Chicago in 1920, where she attended Crane Technical High School (now Malcolm X College); she graduated from the University of Chicago in 1931. From 1931-1943 Barzel performed as a dancer and studied with legendary dancers such as Michael Fokine, Alexandre Volinine and Doris Humphrey. In the1940s, Barzel became a much sought after lecturer on dance and dance instructor. She went on to serve as dance critic for the Chicago Times (1946-1950), and write for Chicago’s American - later Chicago Today (1951-1974), The Lerner Skyline newspapers (1974-2003), and numerous dance publications including Dance Magazine (1940-2003), among others.

Barzel’s connection to the Newberry Library goes back to 1981. Throughout her life Barzel collected an impressive array of dance materials. However, it is her films of live dance performances shot from the wings with her wind-up 16mm camera many believe to be one of her greatest contributions. Today there are 58 distinct dance collections at the Newberry Library, with Ann Barzel's at the center. The Newberry’s Barzel Dance Research Collection covers dance in Chicago and the Midwest from as early as the 1890s, and includes 30,000 feet of film and 200 shelves of documents, books, audio-visual materials, and artifacts.

In addition to giving her papers, research collection and her time, Barzel was a generous supporter of the Newberry Library. In 1996, her giving was recognized with the naming of the Ann Barzel Dance Reading Room in the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections. For more information about the collection, phone 312.255.3506 or visit www.newberry.org.

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