Kathleen Margaret Hermesdorf passed away on November 29, 2020 at the age of 53.
Kathleen was born in Atlanta Georgia in January, 1967. The family relocated to Clarendon Hills, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, in 1970, where Kathleen attended Notre Dame grade school. When she was 9 years old, Kathleen’s family relocated to the Netherlands and Belgium, where she learned Dutch as a second language and traveled much of Europe with her family.
Kathleen‘s deep love of dance began in Clarendon Hills with lessons at a local dance studio, where art became the center of her life. Kathleen graduated from Montini Catholic High School in Lombard, IL, in 1985. She obtained a BFA in Dance from Western Michigan University, and attended the University of Illinois-Champaign on a full scholarship, culminating in an MFA in Dance Performance and Pedagogy. Her lifelong career in contemporary dance began in 1991 when she relocated to San Francisco, CA and co-founded Hermesdorf + Wells Dance Company.
Her extensive and diverse experience included:
1993-1999 Margaret Jenkins Dance Company
1993-2008 Contraband/Sara Shelton Mann
2002-2009 Bebe Miller Company
1998-2020 ALTERNATIVA (Artistic Director, Choreographer, Performer and Producer)
Under Alternativa’s umbrella, Kathleen presented eight home seasons, as well as local national, and international residencies and tours. In 2010 Kathleen founded the Bay Area’s annual FRESH Festival and continued to curate, produce, and direct the festival’s evolution over ten years.
Known as brave and fierce, Kathleen became a highly sought-after teacher and mentor to young dancers. She performed and taught across the country and around the world, including Mexico, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Ireland, Czech Republic, Hong Kong, France, and Senegal.
“There are countless numbers of us that have been transformed and empowered by her wisdom. She touched everyone by her blazing light and her force-of-nature dance and teaching.”
Kathleen is survived by her parents James and Margaret Hermesdorf of Naples, FL; her sister Susan (Kevin) Koehn of Brookfield, WI; her sister Amy (Shawn) Murnan of Edina, MN; seven beloved nieces and nephews: Caroline, Andrew, and Lucy Koehn and Rory, Margaret, Joseph and Kevin Murnan.
Kathleen’s family would like to thank her care team at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX, the staff at Rotary House in Houston, the team at Froedtert Cancer Center in Milwaukee, WI, and Horizon Hospice for their compassionate care of Kathleen and support of our family.
A Visitation will be held on Thursday December 3, 2020 at the funeral home from 5:00 PM until 7:00PM. Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Friday December 4, 2020 at St. Mary’s Visitation Parish, 1260 Church Street Elm Grove, at 10:30 AM. In lieu of flowers, the family appreciates memorial gifts in Kathleen’s name to MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX https://gifts.mdanderson.org
"Dance is transformational. It is a way of perceiving the world and a transmission of human and individual experience. It is how I process and prove truth. It is what makes me more alive than anything else. I find it both phenomenal and phenomenological. I love it even when I haven’t seen a great dance in ages. I love it even when I have a bad day with it. I have also met the most incredible people through dance, and these wonderful artists, friends and loves have left their marks on me. Dance is delicious and dangerous and it has shaped my life, taken me to places I never imagined. I am continually thrilled by the ride."
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