Performing Arts: Dance
March 2, 2004
I was so sad to read today’s paper because it included an obit on Josephine Schwarz—she was a major influence in my life. I started as her student at the age of five and at the age of eleven joined the Dayton Ballet Company. An extraordinary woman, Miss Jo and her sister Miss Hermene(they lived together) put Dayton, Ohio on the dance map with their ballet school and one of the first professional regional dance companies in America.

Not only did the Schwartz sisters raise generations of dancers articulate in ballet, modern dance, dance history, music and choreography, they raised the cultural literacy of Dayton’s citizens, publishers, politicians and educators.

Occasionally, I would get a note from Ms. Jo applauding my work on EYE ON DANCE announcing that she always expected me "to do something important" (she subscribed to a clipping service in order to keep track of her former company members). On her occasional visits to New York, she would call me to have tea with her and her friend who lived in Chelsea.

During those command meetings, I would sit erect, hold in my stomach, and hope she would not mention my less than balletish looking body. Invariably, she would mention my figure, chide me for not taking classes, and insist I keep choreographing while producing EYE ON DANCE. She wanted her students to be passionate about their work and tenacious in their pursuit of life goals.

A tall, slim, sharp faced no nonsense woman, with a bun perpetually screwed into the lower back of her head, Josephine Schwarz was a true American original, a woman with vision who knew that you had to educate your community if you were to going to raise potent arts professionals.

I will always remember and honor Josephine Schwarz.

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