Founders

Ruth (Reg) Grauert and Frances (Fran) Reid were life partners who founded Bearnstow in 1946 as a children’s camp, which continued into the 90s. By the late 90s, it had become a summer arts place, bringing to students the opportunity to discover and know, first hand, the world of dance and creative arts through workshops and retreats, and our day camp program.

Both Dedicated their lives, and particularly their summers to Bearnstow. Reg and Fran ran camp as a team until Fran’s passing in 1994 and Reg continued on as Director until she passed away in May 2020.

Ruth (Reg) Grauert had a rich career in the dance field and a passion for nature, creative arts, and education.

Ruth held a B.A. from Ursinus College, 1939, and an M.A. from Columbia University, 1941. She was the recipient of the 2005 Martha Hill Lifetime Achievement Award and Doctorates of Humane Letters from Ursinus College in 2009 and Centenary College in 2013. She wrote widely on contemporary dance, publishing numerous essays, articles, and reviews on dance aesthetics, education, staging, and lighting. Many of these articles appear here.

From 1939 to 1943, Ruth had classes with Martha Graham and Hanya Holm. She then danced in the pre–World War II Hartford Nikolais Company and briefly in the Kashman Company. Then, in New York City, in the Charles Weidman Dance Company

Following World War II, she supervised all children’s classes at the Henry Street Play­house and acted as the Playhouse stage manager for the many dance concerts presented there and as production stage manager for the Nikolais, Louis, Lamhut and Blossom com­panies from the 1950s to the late 1980s. In 1979–1980 she taught at the Centre national de danse contemporaine (CNDC) in Angers, France. She toured world-wide as the production stage manager for the Nikolais Dance Theater from 1948 to 1988 and taught lighting at the Nik/Lou lab throughout that period. Throughout her illustrious career, Reg without fail took leave every summer to run what Nik referred to jokingly as “That damn Camp,” which we know as Bearnstow.

Read the full memorial tribute to Ruth, as well as remembrances of other long-time associates of the Nikolais Dance Theater and Murray Louis Dance Company.

Frances (Fran) Reid was a dedicated dance educator with roots in Kennebec County. In her adult years, when not at Bearnstow dedicated her time to her own dance studio in Concord, New Hampshire. Her aesthetic and training were in Lyric Theater, and her specialty was tap dancing but she also taught ballet, modern, polka waltz, and more. Besides technique former campers remember how she taught them how to focus in class, pay attention to detail, and performance skills. At Bearnstow she choreographed costumed extravaganzas for each age group, which are remembered by campers and their families to this day. Her incredible attention to detail also made her an incredible steward of Bearnstow. Fran was incredibly active and focused particularly on the care of the buildings. She would climb up and sweep the Lodge roof, lead chore teams in the dining room and kitchen, keep the pantry and linen closet in meticulous order. Fran was very proud of Bearnstow’s track record of excellent inspections for health and safety, as she told us frequently. She said that ideas for some of her best choreography came when she was cleaning things.