For those who were fortunate to know and work with Judith Mirus - enough said, she passed and we who knew her, and her influence, are broken hearted. We know the footprint that invisibly is imprinted around the streets of Minneapolis especially through the halls of Hennepin Center in the 1980's that carried her determined and passionate self to meetings carving out a 501 C 3. It was then called " MICA" (The MN Independent Choreographer's Alliance). It started out in the Wyman building on 1st Ave in Minneapolis in a small office that was shared with Ozone. 612-338-1101- I'll never forget that number. It then moved to Hennepin Center for the Arts where fellowships and grant monies and foundations and commissioning and career assistance for choreographers ..... were developed. It was where people envisioned a "Grand Central Station" of sorts that would unite companies and choreographers and national dancers and workshops would abound. It became a national model for Dance and was when Minneapolis became the "Minneapple" in reference to dance. She became the first president of MICA in 1979 (which later became the MN Dance Alliance) and served as it's leader until Summer of 1985. She built the scaffolding that so much hangs on today. She says of her leadership style, "I'm not a total iconoclast tearing everything down but I'm not for systems that are not making sense. If the status quo doesn't work, I'm out to get rid of it and change it no matter how uncomfortable that may be." She wasn't alone. Others joined her..... John Munger, Maria Cheng, Michael Pettee, Linda Shapiro, Wendy Morris, Wendy Ansley, Patrick Scully, Georgia Stephens, Michael Engel... She will be remembered for her creative administrating. She became an expert fundraiser as well as a visionary for how an organization could serve its members.
All of this because she danced. She followed German modern dance teacher Margret Dietz (she's a powerhouse to research as well) to the Twin Cities after having her as a teacher at Depauw University in Illinois in the 1960's. After moving to Minneapolis in 1968, she took class with Margret at the Guild of Performing Arts on Cedar Ave. The Guild was Nancy Hauser's space where Nancy built her company and studios. Judith soon became a member of Margret's Company "Choreogram". That early company included Carlton dance instructor Linda Osborne and St. Ben's dance instructors Marie Winkler and Terry Stoner. Before leaving Depauw , Judith finished her masters and was hired at the University of Minnesota in the Dance program that was in the Women's Physical Education Department and taught alongside Margret, Heidi Jasmin, and many others in the old Norris Gym. After Margret passed in 1972, Judith stayed on and the Company included Mary Easter, Thern Anderson, Diane Floyd, Linda Soderstrom, Elizabeth Freeman, and others. They eventually made their rehearsal space in Dinkytown at Andrew-Riverside Church.
Her leadership skills and vision and clarity then took her to the Perpich Center where she became the Coordinator of the Dance Education Initiative Project that brought dance to public education throughout the state. She co-authored the Dance Education Curriculum Guide with Loren Bucek and Elena White that still can be found in many a classroom across the state of Minnesota as well as across the country.
Judith moved to New Mexico in 2000 with partner Clarence Robinson to live more simply in a climate they were both attracted to. She became an expert weaver. She eventually acquired a rare form of Parkinson's which is what eventually claimed her life.
Strangely (maybe because I spent too much time in a high school) a Beyoncé song "I Was Here" comes to mind.
"I want to leave my footprints on the sands of time. Know there was something that, meant something that, I left behind. When I leave this world I'll leave no regrets, leave something to remember, so they won't forget. I was here."
Indeed you were Judith. Judith was 73 years old.
Further information will be announced through "Dance MN" in reference to an autumn memorial.
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In Memoriam / Judith Mirus
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