Annelise Mertz, the founder of the Washington University dance program and Dance St. Louis, died in April at age 93. Mertz danced with Kurt Jooss Dance Theatre and as a soloist with the State Opera in Berlin, and she came to the U.S. from Germany in 1955. She began teaching at Washington University in 1957, at a time when most students had never heard of modern dance. She used the women’s gym as a dance studio but fought for her own studio until university officials finally agreed. The program continued to grow from there, leading to the creation of the school’s entire performing arts department.
The chair of the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee dance program, Ed Burgess, died in May at age 58. Burgess danced with several companies, including Jennifer Muller/The Works, and joined UWM in 1989. When he arrived, dance had been made a small part of the theater department with few majors, but he transformed it back into an independent department that now attracts talented dance majors from across the country.