Founders

Reg at the mouth of Uncle Daniel’s Brook at Bearnstow, June 2016.

We are saddened that our mentor, teacher, director, and friend to generations, Reg (Ruth) Grauert, passed away peacefully at her home in Jersey City on Wednesday, May 20, 2020, after a brief illness. Close members of her very supportive family were at her side. Reg was 101 years old.

Over the few weeks before she passed away, she expressed her excitement to spend another summer in Maine, as she had since 1945. She hoped for a time she could be surrounded by friends and the energy of a full camp.

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.

In Memoriam: Ruth E. Grauert
March 24, 1919–May 20, 2020

Ruth Emma Demora Grauert — mentor, teacher, director, and friend to generations — died peacefully at her home in Jersey City, New Jersey, on Wednesday, May 20, 2020, after a brief illness. Close members of her very supportive family were at her side. She was 101 years old.

From 1939 to 1943, Ruth had classes with Martha Graham and Hanya Holm, Alwin Nikolais, and Truda Kashman, and ballet with Deloris Guidone. She 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.

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.

With her life partner, Frances Reid, she 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. The camp also continued to provide a day camp for children for two weeks each summer.

Bearnstow was unique among children’s camps for its principles of inclusion, diversity and generosity, as an inter-racial, inter-religious, and non-discriminatory institution — a philosophy that became a hallmark of Bearnstow throughout the decades. Along with an international faculty, Ruth taught her own classes, with emphasis on the aesthetic principles of Alwin Nikolais, through the summer 2019.