Edmund (Eddie) Gasper
Edmund (Eddie) Gasper died peacefully on August 19th, 2015 in Bradenton, FL. He was a long-time resident of Moorhead, MN and Vergas MN. Eddie spent 86 amazing years on this earth, and he wanted everyone to know, "I had a gooooood time."
Mr. Gasper was born on May 25, 1929 to Louis and Frances Gasper in Dearborn, MI. As a young man growing up in Detroit, he developed a love of dance and performing from his uncle Sandy, who was already a success on the vaudeville stage. He would put his performing aspirations on hold to serve his country. He enlisted in the Air Force, and participated as a pilot in Berlin Airlift, and also served in the USO. He had many good times piloting his own plane. He loved to fly with his fellow Broadway cast-members, and best flying buddy, actor Jerry Orbach.
After completing his service, Eddie moved to New York and was commissioned by the New York Metropolitan Opera Ballet Company, worked through the League of Regional Theatre, and was guest artist/instructor in various universities and organizations. He was also renowned choreographer/stage and film director Bob Fosse's assistant for over a decade, working with him on and off-Broadway, and in Hollywood. On Broadway, he choreographed "Fig Leaves are Falling" with Barry Nelson and Dorothy Loudon, and appeared as lead dancer in "Can Can," "Sweet Charity," "West Side Story," "Irma la Douce," "The Music Man," and "Guys and Dolls." Eddie has directed night club acts for Juliet Prowse and Judy Carne, and has also directed Ginger Rogers, Phil Silvers, Donald O'Connor, Agnes Moorhead, Kathryn Grayson, and Howard Keel, to name a few. He's had the pleasure of working under the direction of Jerome Robbins, Agnes DeMille, Michael Kidd, and Onna White. In London, he choreographed at the Palladium for the BBC's Talk of the Town.
Eddie and Kathy Gasper came to Fargo-Moorhead in 1978 when Eddie was hired as Director/Choreographer at Minnesota State University, Moorhead. Also in 1978, Kathy and Eddie founded the F-M Center of Dance, located at Block 6 on Main Avenue in Fargo. Shortly after, they founded Fargo's first professional dance company, the Red River Dance and Performing Company. RRD&PC was known mostly for their hugely popular annual holiday show, "Christmas Holiday." Always believing that Fargo-Moorhead could produce world-class talent, for the next 14 years, Eddie and Kathy's drive and determination brought invitations to tour the former Soviet Union, perform at the World Fair in Barcelona, Spain, Tivoli Gardens in Denmark, showcase their choreography in Washington, D.C., and tour extensively throughout the U.S. and Canada. Under the artistic direction of Eddie and Kathy Gasper, the Red River Dance and Performing Company became one of the most respected regional touring companies in the nation. Currently, their school and company live on as Gasper's School of Dance, and FM Ballet, under the direction of their son, Matthew.
Eddie and Kathy have also been very proud of their association with Trollwood Performing Arts School, where they choreographed and/or directed the main stage musical from the years 1981-1991.
Eddie is survived by his adoring wife and creative partner, Kathy (Smith) Gasper and their 3 children: Melanie (Tim) Kasper, Sarasota FL; Matthew (Lacey) Gasper, Moorhead, MN; and Marty (Diana) Gasper, and granddaughter Maya, Weehawken, NJ, and by his brother Steve (Connie) Gasper of Dewitt, MI. The numerous performing artists he and Kathy trained, who are now working as performing artists and entertainment professionals all over the world, also survive him.
The Family will be holding a private memorial service. In lieu of flowers, a foundation is being set up in his name to support aspiring young artists. Please follow the Gasper School of Dance Facebook page, and/or website, for upcoming foundation announcements.