Celebrating Ellen Bromberg

29 April 2020 Published in News and Announcements

The School of Dance is honored to celebrate the incredible contributions of retiring Distinguished Professor Ellen Bromberg. Founding Director of the University of Utah’s Graduate Certificate in Screendance, and Director of the bi-annual International Screendance Festival and Workshop, and Distinguished Professor in the School of Dance, Bromberg’s influence on students, colleagues and friends is immeasurable. 

To help us express our gratitude, we thought we’d enlist some of Ellen’s biggest fans. Here, they share how, through the years, she championed and changed them, creating space for them to grow and flourish as artists. 

Ellen Attitude Turn


“There are many favorite moments that involve Ellen, perhaps too many to list. One that comes to mind is when I dressed up as Ellen for the Modern Dance Program's Halloween Party. It was my first year of grad school, and Ellen was unable to attend the party, so my classmates nominated me to dress up as her (because I was the most like her!). I will never forget the look on her face when she eventually saw me... her jaw dropped and she started laughing (her very recognizable Ellen laugh). I must add, on that same day, some of my fellow classmates also coerced her to put on a hot dog costume! I still have photo evidence!”  
— Sara Parker, alumna 

“Just one memory? Well. . .  one of many good memories that comes to mind is the ‘yummy noises.’ Ellen Is a very engaged (and engaging) professor and scholar. One trademark (so to speak) of her attention is both audible and specific. For example, when considering input from a student in class, inviting feedback about her latest project, or observing a rehearsal, her thoughts frequently took the form of taste. Mmmm! Hm. Mmm? Mm-hm.I often imagined that Ellen had some sort of super-human ability to taste—figuratively, of course, but also literally—everything she was taking in. I distinctly recall one of my ‘G2’ colleagues wondering aloud, mashed potatoes and gravy? 
— Jill Schinberg, alumna 

“I vividly remember the one day I came to visit the campus to see if the U was a good fit for me (and if I even wanted to continue working in/with dance in any sort of capacity). I observed Ellen's year 2 workshop class and then had a really open and honest q/a/discussion with her post-class, and I remember having a really good feeling afterwards (hence, I ended up coming to the U and continuing my dance life). There are also many, many tiny moments, scattered throughout my time in graduate school, where Ellen was so supportive, especially during moments of struggle. I also remember a beautiful and touching congratulatory card that Ellen wrote to my colleague/collaborator/friend, Florian, and I on the opening night of our self-produced thesis concert.” 
— Allison Shir, alumna

Charming and disarming

“There is never a wasted word with Ellen. I can’t even count the number of times the room has completely shifted focus to whatever she was saying because her perspective tends to be so right on. Ellen is immediately charming and disarming. You feel like you are talking to a real person who has no agenda but to understand you better.

“In her deep empathy and humanism, she seeks to create conditions for human flourishing. I suspect that she believes that when people are empowered to do their best work they will do their best work. 

“She cares about people in their process rather than the final product. She’s a transformative educator who is very attentive to the whole person, and their lived experiences, as opposed to just their outcomes. People feel seen and heard with her. They feel safe with her, and so can take risks with her. She fosters openness.” 
— Eric Handman, Associate Professor and Associate Director for Graduate Programs 

“I appreciate that while Ellen always takes teaching and her work seriously, she doesn’t take herself too seriously. It allows the subject matter to be the main focus and the subject matter to matter. It models a humanness and humility for others to aspire to and makes it a pleasure to work and study with her.” 
— Stephen Koester, former Chair and Faculty Emeritus 

Screendance Bromberg DeMay 18

“Certainly, Ellen’s stature as a leader/pioneer in Screendance has made an incredibly positive and large impact on the School of Dance and its reputation. Students come from all country and world to be a part of her Screendance program. Her work has broadened how we view ourselves as artists, expanded how we can engage with dance, and has facilitated cross-discipline collaboration.

In conversations, particularly in faculty meetings and envisioning discussions, Ellen’s contributions are invaluable.  She has a brilliant mind, able to pose important questions and seemingly in always the right way to engender conversation and broaden ways of thinking.”
— Stephen Koester

“She has been game-changing in terms of putting the University of Utah on the map as far as a center for the study of screendance. This hybrid artform of this cinematic vision of dance — Ellen has been a leader in institutionalizing that here. She really is of the first generation of screendance artists, and she has created, to my knowledge, the only certificate program in the United States. People come from all over the world to study with Ellen. She has facilitated amazing encounters with significant artists in the field. She has always been about bringing people together.” — Eric Handman

Ellen Screendance
Ongoing wisdom 

“Something Ellen taught me that really stuck was how to view a work and the details from all angles, and identify how it feeds the overall aesthetic. I think about this every time I make anything.” 
— Erica MacLean, alumna

“Ellen’s guidance has really set up my whole future here in New York. Everyone knows Ellen. She connected me to one person here and I’ve been successfully working in screendance, film, and dance since I’ve been here. But more importantly it’s her knowledge and wisdom that has taught me such much about the field of screendance. I work for the longest running screendance festival, Dance on Camera, and have curated several screendance screenings and I owe it all to her. I can’t express enough how much I respect her and how she has helped me.”
— Marty Buhler, alumnus

“Ellen always encouraged me to follow my interests in dance, which has truly become a life's work. To have her mentorship from graduate school to present moment has been something I have cherished. She continues to support me, helps me to see the 'big picture,' and provides valuable insights that I otherwise would not have. I am grateful that she has been, and is still a big part of my life!”
— Sara Parker, alumna

 “Following the completion of my MFA [2005] I traveled to Buenos Aires to work on VideoDanzaBA with Silvina Szperling. Ellen made that introduction for me. A few years later (at the midpoint of The Great Recession) she counseled me by phone as I walked up Fillmore Street in San Francisco questioning my relationship with dance and contemplating my next career move. And most recently, she served as one of my recommenders who helped me to secure my current position at the University of Kentucky. Ellen has provided not only guidance since we met in 2002, but also support and friendship.” 
— Jill Schinberg, alumna 

“I met Ellen in like 1999 at a Dance for Camera festival in Madison, Wisconsin. I had just left dancing in New York, and felt like I needed mentorship, someone to help me understand what the next step could be. I had some sense that it would be some combination of dance and film. When he met Ellen she said, ‘Go to Utah.’ She would be there, starting a program there and said I could study with her. Two years later I found myself assisting her with the very first screendance festival in Utah.

“That encounter changed my life. You never know who is going to change your life until you look back. But that was the stone that dropped in the lake and had this huge ripple effect. It’s been a 20-year master class and I still feel like I know only a fraction of what there is to know. I often have this thought, ‘Was I paying enough attention?’ I wish I were just a few more degrees awake, to sponge up everything.”
— Eric Handman

Professor Ellen Bromberg talks about the founding of the screendance certificate and festival with screendance artist and educator Katrina McPherson