Ingeborg Heuser dies at 97, leaving a lasting legacy at UTEP

Founder+and+former+director+of+the+ballet+department%2C+Ingeborg+Heuser+passed+away+on+Feb.+14.+Heuser+worked+47+years+at+UTEP+and+was+recognized+by+the+El+Paso+Commission+of+the+Women%E2%80%99s+Hall+of+Fame.++Photo+courtesy+of+ctb001+on+Youtube.

Founder and former director of the ballet department, Ingeborg Heuser passed away on Feb. 14. Heuser worked 47 years at UTEP and was recognized by the El Paso Commission of the Women’s Hall of Fame. Photo courtesy of ctb001 on Youtube.

Kristen Scheaffer, Staff Reporter

Former UTEP ballet director Ingeborg Heuser passed away Mon. Feb. 14 surrounded by loved ones, according to her obituary  

Heuser, founder and former director of the ballet (and what is now the dance) department, was born in Berlin, Germany in 1928. She studied ballet at the Deutche Oper under Tatjany Gsovsky and was a member of the corps de ballet of the Opernballet once she graduated, according to a release from UTEP’s University Communications.  

Heuser came to the United States in 1948. It was not until 1953, when her husband Joe Weissmiller was relocated to Fort Bliss, that she became a resident of the borderland, according to her obituary.It was here that she opened her studio, Ballet Centre.  

She joined the faculty ranks of UTEP (then Texas Western College) before she became director of the Texas Western Civic Ballet, the first of the professional ballets in Texas, according to UTEP University Communications.  

Heuser went on to establish a ballet degree in the El Paso/Juárez region, while introducing distinguished ballet dancers and teachers to the community. Among her accomplishments, she has worked on the Dance Advisory Panel for the Texas Commission on the Arts and recognized by the El Paso Commission of the Women’s Hall of Fame, according to the release.  

The ballet director completely immersed herself into the work; not only did she direct and choreograph, but Heuser also designed the costumes and outfits for her productions, according to Greg Taylor, director of UTEP Dinner Theatre.  

With 47 years under her belt, Heuser retired from UTEP in 2007 after her final production “The Nutcracker.” Funds from the final show were taken by Taylor and Beverly Kerbs-Ward, associate director of UTEP’s Dinner Theatre, to establish the Ingeborg Heuser Endowed scholarship for the dance department. 

“She was a go-getter, but I admired her greatly. I think she was definitely one of the pillars of the arts in this town,” said Taylor fondly.  

Her work and shows were praised by those with a love for the arts, and her work inspired many to pursue a career in the arts. 

“I’ve never been to a ballet in my life until I saw a ballet at UTEP when I was a student, and I was impressed by the professional shows that they put on,” said Taylor, describing how he came into the business, later stating, “it was seeing a production that she did that got me interested in the art form itself.” 

Taylor describes how the ballet department that Heuser built was the foundation for the dance department UTEP has today. He described how the department has evolved and built its own reputation varying among different dance forms due to Heuser’s building blocks.  

She leaves behind her sons, Joseph Weissmiller and Christian Blackwell, along with their families and many former students, friends, colleagues, and admirers, according to her obituary. 

 

Kristen Scheaffer is a staff reporter and can be reached at [email protected]