Miss Miriam Kreinson
She Taught Bradford to Dance
She was born in Bradford on Congress Street in 1910, the daughter of Jacob and Bella Kreinson. Graduating from Bradford High School in 1928, she soon left home to find her fame and fortune on Broadway in New York City as a dancer. But her greatest gift to Bradford was not through national fame, but as a teacher of dance to the city's children.
Miriam Kreinson returned to Bradford in 1933, and started a dance studio in the old Odd Fellows building on the square. The Bradford Era wrote "Miss Kreinson has just returned from New York, where for several years she studied with the leading dance instructors of that metropolitan city. She will present instruction in tap, acrobatic dancing, musical comedy routines, limbering, and stretching exercises. Miss Kreinson has had considerable experience in the dancing field, having graduated from some of the best known dance studios in New York in addition to being a member of the Alan K. Foster Specialty Dancers groups, whose units were featured in many Broadway Shubert musicals for several seasons".
Kreinson believed that anyone could learn to dance and eventually taught hundreds of eager students. Lessons were reasonable, only $10 for 12 lessons, with special summer rates available. Classes were held for children, age 3-10; juniors, age 11-18; young men and women; adults, and business girls. A course in stage makeup was taught and offered to all students of the School of Dance at reduced rates.
Over the next seven years, from 1934-1941, Kreinson's "Little Shows" – dance extravaganzas with special costumes, lighting effects, and of course, many dancers – entertained Bradfordians. The first shows were performed at Shea's theater, with local bandleader Dick O'Day and his celebrated Country Club Collegians for musical accompaniment.
In 1935, she moved her dance studio across the street, to the lower level of the Terminal Building. With larger quarters, she expanded her classes, and taught ballet and ballroom dancing as well. In 1936, a talent agent from Warner Brothers contacted Kreinson, looking for "any screen talent among your pupils" stating that they were looking for "young people who could fill leading roles, with some dramatic ability and camera features, as well as the ability to dance".
And she taught more than dance. In 1937, the coach of the Bradford High School football team contacted Kreinson, and asked her to teach the football players how to kick.
She also traveled during the summer breaks – to California, to learn more dance routines, to Mexico, to Europe, to New York, and to Hollywood, where she directed dance numbers for motion pictures.
But the days of dancing were about to end. In December 1941, the attack on Pearl Harbor led to the United States entry into the Second World War. Miriam Kreinson chose not to present her annual stage production that year, feeling, "that the time usually spent on rehearsals, planning, etc. can best be used now in war efforts and civilian defense training". She left Bradford herself, soon afterward, joining a USO show to entertain the troops.
On February 19, 1947 an article appeared in The Bradford Era stating "the Miriam Kreinson School of Dance will re-open here on or about March 15th, according to Miss Miriam Kreinson. The School of Dance studio will be located in the Knights of Columbus Hall in Chestnut Street. Miss Kreinson will be assisted by Miss Patty Hanes of Bradford, a graduate of the Kreinson School." The 1948-49 Bradford, PA City Directory contains a listing under "Dancing Schools" for the Miriam Sage Kreinson Dancing School at 16 South Ave as well as a home listing for her. This is the only directory to list her dance school after World War II. The earliest telephone book in our collection, 1952, has no listing for Miss Kreinson. Advertisements and social news items appeared in the newspaper into the early 1950s. The Bradford Landmark Society would like to thank Todd Halpern for supplying us with a copy of the February 19, 1947 Bradford Era article and bringing our attention to the early 1950s advertisements and social news items.
Miriam came home for the funeral of her brother, David, in February 1985 and that may have been the last time she visited Bradford. We had believed Miriam lived in the Las Vegas area and that was confirmed when we received an email from Miriam's good friend, Mary Beckford, seeking information on her life in Bradford. We are sad to say that Miriam passed away January 19, 2008 in Las Vegas at the age of 97. We are indebted to Mary Beckford, Sandy Scarberry and Monica for sharing this information with us and present her obituary as printed in The Bradford Era and used with their permission.
But for the hundreds of children who performed in her "Little Shows" and learned, not just how to dance, but poise and self-confidence, her School of Dance had a lasting effect.