Ellen Seidman Bucalo, 43, ballerina and choreographer

December 10, 1993|By DeWitt Bliss | DeWitt Bliss,Staff Writer

Ellen Seidman Bucalo, a Baltimore native who was a ballet dancer, choreographer and actress, died Nov. 27 of cancer at a hospital in Dortmund, Germany. She was 43.

Known professionally at various times as Ellen Seidman and as Ellen Bucalo, she became a member of the ballet company of a state theater in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, in 1981. She was a soloist for a time, but then, as she became ill, concentrated on choreography, singing and acting.

She had recently choreographed a production of "Carmen" that the theater has yet to stage. Last fall, she played the novice in a German language production of "Nunsense" and early this year appeared in productions of "Jesus Christ Superstar."

She had gone to Germany in 1974 and danced with the Dortmund Opera Ballet until 1981.

In 1973 and 1974, she was a member of the Radio City Music Hall ballet company in New York.

At her death, she was described by German newspapers as a "spirited performer" who was loved by her colleagues and noted for her conscientiousness and helpfulness.

One newspaper article described dance workshop pieces that she created as "very original, humorous, full of energy."

Ellen Gniazdowska, from whom Ms. Bucalo began receiving dance instruction in Baltimore at the age of 4, described her as "always very talented, very bright, a smart girl."

She lamented the fact that much of Ms. Bucalo's professional success occurred in Europe, where many of Ms. Gniazdowska's students were welcomed although they, like Ms. Bucalo, may have been shorter than was popular in American dance companies.

Martin Fredmann, now director of the Colorado Ballet, started in the old Baltimore City Ballet at the same time as Ms. Bucalo and had gone to Dortmund to dance with her.

He noted that she was the first of his early dance partners and friends to die and decribed it as "sort of the end of an era." He praised her for her "wonderful spirit" and "her interest in everything around her."

Ernesta Corvino, who danced with her in the Maryland Ballet and later at Radio City, and now has her own dance company in New York City, described Ms. Bucalo as "a dancer and person of rare charm and spirit who dedicated her life to her art form."

Ms. Bucalo was a 1968 graduate of Milford Mill High School, where she appeared in dramatic productions, and was also a graduate of Towson State University.

She apprenticed at the Baltimore City Ballet and became a member of the company, dancing leading roles. It became the Maryland Ballet while she was there.

She had also been a soloist in productions of the Baltimore Actor's Theater and in 1967 became a teacher there.

She also taught at the Hagerstown School of Ballet and at the Oldfields School.

In the early 1960s, she appeared as one of the children in a Bolshoi Ballet production of "Ballet School" at the Lyric Theater and toured the South with the Ballet Dance Company.

After going to Germany, she often returned to this country in the summer, directing a production of "110 in the Shade" in 1977 and "Sweet Charity" in 1979 at the Spotlighter's Theatre.

A memorial service is to be held at 3 p.m. tomorrow at the Baltimore Actors Theater Conservatory at Dumbarton House, 300 Dumbarton Road in Rodgers Forge.

Ms. Bucalo is survived by her father, S. Arthur Seidman of Reisterstown; her mother, Phyllis H. Seidman of Lochearn; three sisters, Susan J. Seidman of Sharon, Vt., Lynne G. Seidman of Sykesville and Jill S. Phillips of Lochearn; a brother, Lee S. Seidman of Reisterstown; and two nieces.

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