Northrop director had passion

The former director shared his love of the arts with the University.

Vincent Staupe

Dale Schatzlein liked to dance.

Among other achievements, the longtime director of Northrop Auditorium was known for such quirky acts as “boogying on Nicollet Mall for Bastille Day,” according to friends.

The arts aficionado died unexpectedly Aug. 31 while biking with friends in the Colorado Rockies. He was 58.

“Dale Schatzlein brought an amazing level of excitement and enthusiasm to his work,” University President Bob Bruininks said in a statement released Tuesday. “He shared his love of dance with thousands and helped turn Northrop Auditorium into an international venue for ballet and other performing arts.”

Schatzlein had been the Northrop Auditorium director since 1985. During his tenure, he expanded the dance and music scene at the venue through collaboration with other arts organizations in the Twin Cities, most notably the Walker Art Center.

“It was a long-standing and very rich partnership that existed between Northrop and the Walker and that was due in large part to Dale’s commitment to collaboration,” said Philip Bither, the Walker’s senior curator of performing arts.

Schatzlein also launched the prestigious Northrop Jazz Season in 1986, which allowed students and others to hear major jazz artists from around the nation.

A University alumnus, Shatzlein graduated in 1971 with an accounting degree. He began his career at Northrop in 1974 as the business manager of the auditorium.

After getting hired at Northrop, Schatzlein took University art history courses to gain a better understanding of the arts community.

“He liked hands-on experience,” said Holly Radis-McCluskey, Northrop’s audience service manager.

Schatzlein would often travel to such cultural meccas like New York to see music dance acts, and try to bring those acts to the Twin Cities, she said.

In addition, Schatzlein read magazines devoted to dance and music, said Linda Brandt, Northrop’s former marketing director.

“He had an encyclopedic knowledge of dance,” she said

According to friends, Schatzlein appreciated the University most when it was at its spirited best, such as during Northrop’s summer music series, where he once danced with the audience.

“He knew that the music would bring people together,” Brandt said.

Schatzlein is survived by life partner Emily Maltz, brother Greg Schatzlein and sisters Lynn Blank and Pam Luger.

A reception will be at 4 p.m. Friday the Walker Art Center. A memorial service will follow at 5 p.m.