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MS Thr 417

Bernd, John. John Bernd papers: Guide.

Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University


Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: Harvard Depository
Location: b
Call No.: MS Thr 417
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: Bernd, John
Title: John Bernd papers,
Date(s): 1972-1988.
Quantity: 1 collection (6 boxes (6 linear ft.)
Language of materials: Collection materials are in English.
Abstract: Papers of choreographer John Bernd (1953-1988) documenting his career as a dancer and choreographer.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

1988-1989.82 and 1994-1995.133. Gift of Maryette Charlton; received: 1989, 1994.

Processing Information:

Processed by: Julia E. Collins, under the supervision of Beth Carroll-Horrocks.

Conditions Governing Access:

There are no restrictions on physical access to most of this material. Some audiovisual materials may require reformatting before access can be granted.
This collection is not housed at the Harvard Theatre Collection but is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should consult the Harvard Theatre Collection to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times.

Preferred Citation for Publication:

John Bernd Papers, 1953-1988 (MS Thr 417). Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Biographical / Historical

John Jeffery Bernd, born May 8, 1953 in Lincoln, Nebraska, was an American choreographer and dancer. Bernd graduated from Antioch College with a bachelor's degree in dance and performance studies. Among his teachers were Twyla Tharp, Sara Rudner, Merce Cunningham, John Cage and Jasper Johns. He also spent 12 years as a professional swimmer.
Early in his dance career, Bernd performed in the works of Meredith Monk, Jane Comfort, Jeff Weiss and Melissa Fenley. He choreographed and performed works during 1978-1988 in venues around the United States and abroad. Bernd's work incorporated autobiographical themes, most prominently homosexuality and his struggle with AIDS, with which he was first diagnosed in1981. Bernd's Surviving love and death chronicles his personal struggle with the disease and the community-wide effect of AIDS. Most of his works were performed as solos, but he collaborated extensively with Tim Miller, Anne Bogart and Ishmael Houston-Jones.
Bernd was an active member of New York's dance and performance community. Closely involved with Performance Space 122, he later became the associate director. In 1986 he received a Bessie award for his piece, Lost and found (scenes from a life). He continued working until his death in 1988. Bernd died of AIDS at New York University Medical Center on August 28, 1988.


The collection is organized into seven series :

Scope and Contents

The collection contains choreographic plans, correspondence related to John Bernd's work, photographs, audiotapes, videotapes, newspaper and magazine clippings, promotional materials and a journal that he kept during one of his hospitalizations.
Many of the folders retain the identification provided by the donor, Maryette Charlton.


This collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. See access restrictions below for additional information.

Container List