Remembering Longtime Towson University Dance Professor Helene Breazeale (1937–2021)
Helene Breazeale, of Baltimore, Maryland, passed away on May 18, 2021, at the age of 83.
Performer/choreographer/teacher/historian/author/proud mother and grandmother, and Baltimorean, Dr. Helene Breazeale did it all! She was born in 1937 in Baltimore, where she lived most of her life. She is survived by her sister, Maxine Caplan, son Greg Breazeale, daughter-in-law Jamie Breazeale and grandsons Brandon and Andrew Breazeale.
Dr. Breazeale earned a BS/MS in dance performance and choreography from The Juilliard School in New York, an MA in dance education from Columbia University in New York, and a PhD in dance education from The Union Institute and University in Ohio.
She had a 19-year professional performing career including The Limón Dance Company, the Broadway revival of Oklahoma!, the Celtic Ballet of Scotland, industrial shows, off-Broadway, summer stock, concert stage and television. Her 50-plus-year teaching career included such institutions as The Juilliard School, Queens College, Peabody Institute, Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland State University.
She is the choreographer of over 20 major works including the Emmy Award-winning production, “The Singing Angels Christmas Show.” Her writings are included in such publications as Fine Arts Magazine, Dance Magazine, Dance Teacher Now, Vestnik, Museums of Russia and The Baltimore Sun.
As a professor emerita at Towson University, she continued to make generous contributions to the arts as a consultant, a governing member of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and, until recently, vice president for special services and events for the Baltimore Symphony Associates.
During her 33-year tenure at Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland, Dr. Breazeale was professor of dance, founder of the Towson University Dance Company in 1972, the dance major program in 1976, the Children’s Dance Division in 1981, TED (Towson Ensemble Dancers) in 1984 and the International Ballet Symposium in 1987.
Following her doctoral research in curriculum development, at TU she was the designer of the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program in dance performance and dance performance and education that began in 1985. To date, TU is the only institution of higher education in the State of Maryland to offer a BFA program in dance that is fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD).
Dr. Breazeale was chair of the dance department for 18 years, and served as associate dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication from 1990–96. At the same time, in 1995, she was named executive director of the World Music Congresses. Working for the Division of University Advancement at TU, she produced and directed the World Cello Congress II in St. Petersburg, Russia, July 1–8, 1997; the World Cello Congress III, May 28–June 4, 2000 at TU and the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore, Maryland; and The First World Guitar Congress, June 2–9, 2004, at TU and the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.
With all of these accomplishments, she was most proud of her role as mother and grandmother. She was devoted to her family and adoring of her grandchildren. Her parents, Harry and Sophia Cohen were first generation Americans with roots going back to Russia. Helene and her sister Maxine were raised in Baltimore’s Forest Park neighborhood and graduated from Forest Park High School in the 1950s. After her teaching career began, she moved back to Baltimore where she continued to raise her son, Greg, and where she would eventually dote over her daughter-in-law, Jamie, and her grandsons, Brandon and Andrew.
She was a passionate supporter of the arts. Donations may be made in her memory to The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra or other music and arts organizations. —Gregory Breazeale