Carol Bartlett, a choreographer who had been the Peabody Preparatory dance department's artistic director for 25 years, died of cancer Dec. 15 at her Rodgers Forge home. She was 67.
"She was the backbone and inspirational leader of the Peabody Preparatory's dance department," said Carolee Stewart, the preparatory school's dean. "She was a beloved teacher. She also planned and was chief choreographer for its productions."
Born Carol Trotman in Colchester, Essex, England, she was trained in the tradition of the Royal Academy of Ballet as a child. She earned a degree at the University of London.
She came to New York City in 1970. Her former husband, Hanspeter Erni, described her as an "artistic person who was also into the pottery scene of the late 1960s." She also drew and was interested in the New York dance scene of that era. She attended performances of the Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham companies, as well as those of other artists. She also ran an open-classroom private school in Mamaroneck, N.Y.
In 1973 she moved to Switzerland and studied dance with the German Expressionist Sigurd Leeder.
"He was one of the most important influences on her," said her former husband, who lives in Herisaw, Switzerland, and is a music school consultant and administrator.
She returned to New York and in 1978 joined the faculty of the Community School of Performing Arts, which is associated with the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
In 1983 she moved to Baltimore and began her lengthy association with Peabody.
"She was an extraordinary talent," said Peabody's dance department's artistic advisor, Barbara Weisberger, who lives in Kingston, Pa. "You would not know all the dimensions of what Carol could do and did do."
She described her colleague as looking "very Greenwich Village." She recalled her as "ageless" and a woman who wore little or no makeup. She said Ms. Bartlett was a private, almost secretive person. "The inside of Carol was never exposed. Her friends adored her."
She recalled the excellence of one of her recent works, a ballet piece called "Concerto," which was dance to one of J.S. Bach's Brandenburg concertos.
"It was exquisite," said Mrs. Weisberger.
"She had every talent," said Mrs. Weisberger. "She came from European roots and was adept at everything she did. Carol was complete theater. She was beautiful when she moved."
Ms. Bartlett described her approach to dancing as "hybrid of Martha Graham, German Expressionist dance, yoga and anatomical release approaches."
"Ms. Bartlett had a great impact on dance at Peabody as well as the entire Institute. She was brilliantly creative, and she brought tremendous passion and intensity to everything she did," said Dr. Stewart. "Under her guidance, Peabody Dance has become one of the premier programs in this area, focusing on developing young dancers in ballet and contemporary dance."
Dr. Stewart said that three years ago Ms. Bartlett received funding for a program that targeted boys, ages 9 to 17, for intense training at Peabody. She worked with the trustees of the Estelle Dennis Foundation to bring more boys into her program.
"Her choreographies were magnificent, and Peabody Dance productions have consistently been of the highest quality," said Dr. Stewart, the school's dean. "We have lost a great teacher, a friend, an artist, and an inspiration to us all. The nature of Ms. Bartlett's work means that she was more than just a teacher for our young dancers. She was a mentor and significant adult in their lives."
Dr. Stewart said that Ms. Bartlett was a specialist in contemporary dance. "She was the heart of the contemporary program and worked alongside those in classic ballet."
She recalled her colleague as being full of energy.
"Dancers have an aura that exudes from them," Dr. Stewart said. "They are intense and demanding. When Carol wanted something her way, she made sure that when it happened it was always brilliant and beautifully artistic."
"She was not only a terrific teacher, but she reorganized the entire department," said former Peabody director Robert O. Pierce, who lives in Towson. "You could count on her spring dance program to be an exciting and creative experience. She had the highest, exacting standards."
Family members said she was excellent cook who was known for her shepherd's and steak and kidney pies and Christmas puddings.
Survivors include two daughters, Anouk Erni and Meret Geare, both of Los Angeles, Calif. A marriage to Robert Bartlett ended in divorce.
Services are private. A life celebration will be held in the spring.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun