Boston Conservatory Remembers Ruth Sandholm Ambrose

January 15, 2015

The Boston Conservatory is saddened by the passing of Ruth Sandholm Ambrose, who served as Chair of the Boston Conservatory’s Dance Division from 1967–1989. 

Known for her laughter and unwavering support of students, Ruth was truly an icon, "the Grande Dame of Dance at the Boston Conservatory," said President Emeritus William A. Seymour.

Ruth's relationship with the Conservatory began when she was a student, studying under Dance Division Founder Jan Veen. She began teaching at the Conservatory directly after her student years and was made chair in 1967.  

Yasuko Tokunaga, Ruth’s successor as Director of the Dance Division, said, “She was my constant mentor and advisor—genuine, generous and gracious. Her spirit lives on in those of us who were fortunate enough to work closely with her.”

Current Dance Division Dean Cathy Young continued, “The legacy of Ruth Sandholm Ambrose is felt and seen every day in the Dance Division—in the passion and imagination of our students, the excellence of our faculty and the belief we all share that dance can change the world.”

The Conservatory offers a sincere prayer of gratitude for Ruth's work and her legacy at the school, and shares the warmest of condolences to all of her friends and colleagues.

Information regarding memorial services will be posted to this page as it becomes available.

All community members are encouraged to share their favorite memories of Ruth on the Boston Conservatory's Facebook page.  

The Ruth Sandholm Ambrose Scholarship was established in 1991 and honors the legacy of this beloved dance division director. This award is presented in recognition of artistic and technical growth to a student with the “potential to become a professional dancer, teacher, or choreographer.” 
"Mrs. Ambrose taught us to be lovers of dance -- all dance -- and to her, that meant lovers of storytelling. If she saw you in the hallway pining to be in a class that you were not required to be in, she would quite literally push you in the studio, saying, 'Go. Go in. Learn everything.' She respected work but allowed you to play, knowing that the humanity was in the storytelling. It is an honor to have been the first recipient of the Ruth Sandholm Ambrose Scholarship." —Michelle Chassé, Musical Theater Dance Chair, First Recipient of The Ruth Sandholm Ambrose Scholarship
"Ruth Ambrose was a great lady of the Theater! She understood students and cared deeply about them, personally and professionally. I had the great gift of being her friend, colleague and travel companion on audition tours. She had a great sense of humor, and one of my great pleasures was finding ways to make her laugh--which was not hard to do! The last time I saw Ruth was at her home in Florida, many years ago. We had dinner and shared stories. Her optimism and buoyant personality always shone through, even in her later, retiring years. I think that she would not view her passing as an end to her story, but, rather, a graceful movement into the vast serenity of the universe. I will miss her."  —Neil Donohoe, Theater Division Director
"In my early days at the Conservatory, I developed a casual friendship with Ruth that deepened through the years. She knew I was a poet and, when she moved to Florida, she gave me many of her books on Eastern spirituality, including the poetry and philosophy of Omar Khayyam... I was surprised and honored by the gift." —Judson Evans, Liberal Arts Division Director