Sunday, February 18, 2018
News Roundup

Tampa, New York dancer Lynn Marie Ruse lived her dream

TAMPA — Nine years ago this month, dancer Lynn Marie Ruse glimpsed the audience through the curtain at the Gorilla Theatre.

Ms. Ruse grew up in Tampa and had returned to her hometown frequently from New York, where she co-founded Free­fall, a dance company specializing in abstract storytelling. The company turned into an established presence in the New York dance scene. Critics raved about the creativity and range of physical expression. The Village Voice called Ms. Ruse "a stunning, smoldering performer."

Ms. Ruse considered Tampa an alternate home base. She taught master classes at the University of South Florida, her alma mater, Hillsborough Community College and Blake High School's performing arts magnet program. She choreographed productions of Why the Y in Ybor? and Tampa Tongues.

But on that night, Tampa didn't seem to care about her brand of abstract expressionism. Only two customers occupied the seats. Ms. Ruse and Freefall co-founder Lynn Brown refused an offer to cancel the show. In one of the pieces that followed, she glided across a thin mattress with another dancer, all muscularity and power and need over the woodwinds of Ravel's Boléro. Brown followed with a solo, shuffling out a drumbeat while reciting a speech by Gen. George S. Patton.

For Ms. Ruse the show was a success, a concept she defined as the ability to tell abstract stories for a living.

Ms. Ruse, one of the best known dancers and choreographers to come out of Tampa, died Aug. 31 in New York of lung cancer. She was 48.

She was deeply influenced by the work of German choreographer Pina Bausch, who promoted and pioneered a concept known as dance theater.

"Some things that people found ugly she thought were very beautiful," said Brown, 52. "Other things that other people thought were beautiful she thought were trash."

They met at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, after Ms. Ruse had studied dance in London. She was friendly and talked a mile a minute. They started collaborating, Brown said, a process made smoother by following one rule: "No one could say something is stupid until we tried it out."

The pair painstakingly built up a repertoire of work. Reviewers invoked avant-garde playwrights such as Bertolt Brecht or Samuel Beckett, and praised the team for delving into serious subjects with a disarming humor.

"When you read poetry you fill in between the lines," said Lorelei Bayne, 48, a Tampa native and a longtime friend of Ms. Ruse's who is now the dance coordinator at California State University Sacramento. "It gives you a lot of freedom."

Bayne recruited Ms. Ruse to conduct classes at Cal State, where "she had a way of making really abstract work accessible to students."

Ms. Ruse also taught dance through the Lincoln Center Institute and yoga on her own. She performed at the Loft Theater in Tampa and the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, and taught guest classes at Blake through the Arts Council of Tampa.

It was an unlikely outcome for someone who did not start dancing seriously until college.

Lynn Marie Ruse was born in Daytona Beach in 1965 but grew up in Tampa. She graduated from Chamberlain High and USF, where she majored in English.

Sara Munson Deats, an emeritus USF English professor, remembered Ms. Ruse as "not only a brilliant student but a luminous presence."

Ms. Ruse met Bayne at USF. The two friends later roomed together in Greenwich Village, where Ms. Ruse juggled several jobs and got by on little sleep.

"It wasn't that she had insomnia, she just didn't want to miss anything," said Val Day, 50, a New York talent agent who also knew Ms. Ruse in Tampa.

She never married but was recently linked romantically to dancer Toby Billowitz, who played Joey the horse in the Broadway production of War Horse.

Her second bout with cancer in recent years cut short a full life. "She was my greatest artistic influence," said Brown. "It wasn't about a flawless, easy, facile performance. It was about overcoming something.

"That's what life was. That's the way she lived her life."

Andrew Meacham can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2248.

Comments
Bubba Wallace emotional after Daytona 500 runner-up finish

Bubba Wallace emotional after Daytona 500 runner-up finish

DAYTONA BEACH – No, Bubba Wallace did not win the 60th running of the Daytona 500.But you wouldn't have known that after seeing his emotions after he placed second – the highest finish ever by a black driver in the Great American Race.Wal...
Updated: 3 hours ago
After Irma evacuation gridlock, new energy for Interstate 75 options

After Irma evacuation gridlock, new energy for Interstate 75 options

OCALA — In mid-2016, a regional task force that spent almost two years exploring ways to improve safety on a crowded Interstate 75 decided to take a conservative approach: make changes to the highway rather than build or expand other roads. Then Hurr...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Austin Dillon wins Daytona 500 after Aric Almirola wrecks late

Austin Dillon wins Daytona 500 after Aric Almirola wrecks late

DAYTONA BEACH – As Austin Dillon celebrated his Daytona 500 win Sunday, he couldn't help but remember the time he was standing there, in Victory Lane, 20 years ago this week.He was 7 then, and his index finger jutted into the air triumphantly t...
Updated: 4 hours ago
‘We had this monster living under our roof and we didn’t know.’

‘We had this monster living under our roof and we didn’t know.’

Nikolas Cruz was immature, quirky and depressed when James and Kimberly Snead took him into their Parkland home. But he was pleasant and seemed to be growing happier, they said.How the 19-year-old turned into a man now arrested and charged with 17 co...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Open-mic night at Pilars is a hot spot for Disney talent

WINTER GARDEN — At the end of the day, when the tourists are gone, Disney performers head out to their favorite spot to keep on singing after their shifts are over. Every Thursday, they perform at open-mic night at Pilars, a Winter Garden martini bar...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Broward program will give small-time offenders a big break

Broward program will give small-time offenders a big break

FORT LAUDERDALE — Pot smokers aren’t the only law breakers able to get a second chance in South Florida. Underage adults buying alcohol, those stealing property worth less than $300 and people nabbed for trespassing, loitering or disorderly conduct a...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Facebook turns to postcards to snuff foreign ads

MENLO PARK, Calif. — Facebook will soon rely on centuries-old technology to try to prevent foreign meddling in U.S. elections: the post office. Baffled in 2016 by Russian agents who bought ads to try to sway the U.S. presidential campaign, Facebook’s...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Parkland students to march on Florida Capitol to demand changes to gun laws

Parkland students to march on Florida Capitol to demand changes to gun laws

TALLAHASSEEAhundred students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland will travel to Tallahassee for a march on the state Capitol on Wednesday in the first organized protest of their #NeverAgain movement.Their demand: that Florida legisl...
Updated: 5 hours ago
EPA chief Pruitt cancels visit to Israel

EPA chief Pruitt cancels visit to Israel

WASHINGTON — Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has canceled a nearly weeklong trip to Israel, agency officials confirmed Sunday.Pruitt, who had been scheduled to leave this past weekend for an extensive tour of the Mideast al...
Updated: 5 hours ago
As victims are mourned in Florida, a search for solace, and action

As victims are mourned in Florida, a search for solace, and action

PARKLAND — On the Sunday after Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School lost 17 of its own, a minister in Parkland implored his flock not to let the horrific shootings lead them away from their faith."Our world is broken, but Jesus is not," the Rev. Eddi...
Updated: 5 hours ago