Chrystelle L. Bond, founder of the dance program at Goucher College and former Baltimore Sun dance critic, who enjoyed choreographing and staging antique dances, died May 6 of a heart attack at her home in Towson. She was 82.
“If you would cut one of her veins, her blood would come out dancing. That’s who she was," said Vivian Adelberg Rudow, a composer and longtime friend who lives in Brooklandville.
“When she came to Goucher, there was no dance department, and what dance classes were taught, were part of the physical education department," Ms. Rudow said. "She founded the department and established a dance major. She was very proud of that.”
The former Chrystelle Lee Trump, daughter of George Elwood Trump Sr., a businessman, and his wife, Viva V. Fridinger Trump, a homemaker, was born and raised in Manchester, Carroll County.
It was a fifth grade field trip to the Maryland Historical Society that changed her life.
“I saw pictures of some ladies wearing hooped dresses,” she explained in a 2014 interview with the Goucher Quarterly. “I found out they were doing the minuet, so I asked my teacher if I could dance for my class project. I had never danced before, but I learned the minuet. The teacher told my parents, ‘You know, you ought to have her start taking dance classes.’ ”
After graduating in 1956 from Manchester High School, she earned a bachelor’s degree in 1960 in dance from the Women’s College of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. While pursuing a master’s degree in dance at the college, she taught dance.
When she joined the Goucher faculty in 1963, it was in the physical education department as an instructor. Six years later she was named an assistant professor of physical education and director of dance, a position she held until 1973, when she became an associate professor.
Ms. Bond trained in modern dance with Martha Graham at the College of Dance in Connecticut. Some of the other legendary dancers she studied with at the college included Twyla Tharp, Alvin Ailey, José Limón and Yvonne Rainer.
In ballet, she trained at the Peabody Conservatory, and in 19th century and early 20th century dance, she studied at Pinewoods Country Dance and Song in Easthampton, Massachusetts.
At Goucher, she also served in the English and performing arts departments before the establishment of the dance department in 1975. While there were dance classes available at the college, there was no major in dance.
When Ms. Bond approached a dean, she was told that dance was not an academic discipline. “It has no history. It can’t be recorded,” he said. After showing the reluctant dean her master’s thesis on labanotation, a notation system developed in 1928 by Rudolf Laban that recorded and analyzed human movement, he gave his consent.
“OK, you can have a dance course for academic credit,” said Dean James Billet. During 1975, Ms. Bond wrote the academic curriculum for the new department, which debuted in the 1975-1976 academic year, but it remained one dance class for academic credit.
After several students went to Goucher President Rhoda M. Dorsey and Dean Billet and said they were transferring if they could not major in dance, the administrators agreed, and Ms. Bond found herself founding chair of the dance program.
“My biggest achievement has been teaching Goucher students who have gone on making major contributions to dance performance, choreography, research and reconstruction,” Ms. Bond said in the Goucher Quarterly interview. “I love lighting a spark and being able to meet the challenges that come of making dance an academic discipline.”
In addition to her work at Goucher, Ms. Bond was The Sun’s dance critic during the 1960s and 1970s.
An interest in the history of dance led her to become a major collector of dance sheet music from 1820 to 1950, and dance notation sources from the 16th century to the 20th century, which she later donated to the Goucher Library.
Ms. Bond was a co-founder and director in 1989 of Choregraphie Antique, the dance ensemble at the college, whose artistic mission is performing ballroom dances of the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, Revolutionary War, War of 1812, American Civil War, World Wars I and II, the Roaring ’20s and dances of the 1950s and 1960s, all performed in historically accurate costumes of the periods.
She also researched the history of dance related to the United Service Organizations, more commonly known as the USO. In 1992, she and her dance troupe re-created a World War II USO canteen in a performance at the Maryland Historical Society with a series of dances that included the jitterbug, fox trot, rumba, victory polka, Paul Jones and conga as they were danced at a USO canteen.
Ms. Bond told The Sun that during the Revolutionary War “we danced like crazy” and during the Civil War “dancing didn’t stop,” and World War II was no exception, when dancing was considered a morale builder.
“Everything was just right starting with the vintage costumes. Her performances were very precise and about style,” Ms. Rudow said. “It was about how you place your feet, hold your hands and move your body.”
What distinguished a performance of Ms. Bond’s was her “ability to put you there,” Ms. Rudow said. “You felt as though you were in George Washington’s parlor watching a minuet. It was the kind of performance that made you want to come back and see it again.”
She said two of Ms. Bond’s favorite dances were the Charleston and jitterbug.
Ms. Bond also served as faculty adviser for the New York Public Library, the performing arts division of the Library of Congress and the Harvard Theatre collection at the Houghton Library in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Ms. Bond retired in 2018.
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