Maria DuBois Genné, Founder and Director of the non-profit intergenerational intercultural performing arts and health producing organization Kairos Alive!, died peacefully on June 28, 2024 in Minneapolis. A dancer, choreographer, educator, and a beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend to many; she dedicated her life to enfranchising people and communities of all ages and abilities to find joy, belonging and health through community performing arts participation.

A committed feminist who embraced, modeled and championed the recognition of women as humans of equal value; she extended this recognition to children, elders, and people with disabilities as being full creative contributors in community dance drama works. She was a recognized pioneer in the fields of arts and health, participatory arts, and creative aging; her work has contributed to research in all of these fields.

She co-founded the dance companies That Dance Company and Maria, Colleen & Kids. She founded the young people’s modern dance company Young Dance, and she founded Kairos Alive! in 1991. Her Kairos work received national and international recognition, and is featured in the PBS documentary, Arts and the Mind, and in the forthcoming (2025) Bradley Cooper PBS documentary project on caregiving.

She was a co-founder of the arts advocacy organization which became ArtSage, served on the board of the National Center for Creative Aging, and was active in the theater groups Minnesota Folktale Gardening Club and Folktopia.

Born in Chicago on April 4, 1951, her greatest love was her family. Memorials can go to the Maria Genné Legacy Fund at kairosalive.org or to the charity of your choice. A memorial service is being planned. Cremation Society of MN.

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Jeff Bartlett, lighting designer and former Southern Theater artistic director, passed away at 73.

The “painter with lights” helped performing arts companies launch even as he helped artists realize their visions onstage.
By Rohan Preston, Star Tribune

Those who collaborated with lighting designer and former Southern Theater artistic director Jeff Bartlett will tell you that in his mind he never completed any of his projects. “A show would be closed, the artists would have moved on to their next works, but he’d still be talking about how to finish the lights to his satisfaction,” said Sandy Moore, who worked with Bartlett for over 20 years as Southern’s development director then managing director.

That diligence often resulted in sharp, sometimes stunning lighting on actors, dancers and musicians, not just at the Southern, where Bartlett worked for 40 years, but also at venues in New York, California and elsewhere when he went on tour with Minnesota arts troupes.

Bartlett died at 73 on June 26 after a stroke. As was his wish, he died in Alstead, N.H., his family’s spiritual seat, where he had gone for his closing act. Four years prior, he had been diagnosed with melanoma, Moore said.

As a mentor and artistic midwife, Bartlett also helped usher the birth of many performing arts companies. It’s hard to overstate the impact that Jeff had on artistic ecology of the Twin Cities, said Wendy Knox, founder of Minneapolis’ Frank Theatre. “He and his team at the Southern helped so many groups grow up,” Knox said. “Theatre de la Jeune Lune started out there, Zeitgeist, Frank.”

Ragamala Dance Company had its first show at the Southern under Bartlett’s encouragement. When they first went to see if they could present work at the theater, founder Ranee Ramaswamy was thinking that it would be a rental. But Bartlett, instead, asked her to present her show and share her ideas. “He listened to us and gave wise feedback not just about lighting but about what the audience sees and how to make it the best experience for the audience and performers,” Ramaswamy said.

Bartlett also loved to light bodies, and to pinpoint things that were surprising, quirky or jewel-like. “He was a painter with lights,” Moore said. “And he believed that dancers were moving light catchers.”

Private services have been held. A public memorial will be scheduled in Minneapolis for a later date.