“Because of her I’ve had so many opportunities to work with all kinds of professionals,” said dancer Christina M. Shelby ’04. “I think it’s really important for that to happen at Harvard, especially because of the loss of Rieman.”
Bergmann brought strong academic as well as professional dance credentials to Harvard.
“She’s a very serious teacher of college-age people,” said Kathleen McCormick, director of programs for the Office for the Arts. “I felt we needed someone who really understood the liberal arts environment.”
During her 20-year tenure at the University of Michigan, Bergmann developed its dance program from a recreational activity to a part of the curriculum in which students can earn a degree.
By designing a building for the dance program and recruiting visiting artists, Bergmann created a curriculum “that was much more nurturing of developing artists than people who would go on to teach physical education,” said University of Michigan faculty member Gay Delanghe, who worked under Bergmann.
“She is an inspiring teacher,” Delanghe said. “A lot of people take her classes and she can move them.”
In 2000, the University of Michigan recognized Bergmann’s work with a citation of merit.
Bergmann has also served as faculty chair of dance at California State University, Long Beach and Shenandoah University in Virginia. She is a Fulbright scholar and has received three choreographic fellowship grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Professionally, she has danced and choreographed in New York, where she taught modern dance legend Jose Limon.
The search committee to find a new dance director had planned to publicly kick off its search on Tuesday—the day after Bergmann announced she would stay. Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68, who was to have overseen the search, said he was relieved Bergmann decided against retirement.
“I feel as though I had completed a worldwide search, identified the best candidate, and she accepted the position,” he wrote in an e-mail.
—Staff writer William M. Rasmussen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.