Dance Studio Named to Honor MaryLu Clayton Rosenthal

The Rosenthal family honors her legacy with endowed scholarships in music, dance and theater

Robert Rosenthal stands at a piano in the dance studio named for his wife

Robert Rosenthal stands at a piano in the dance studio at UC Riverside that bears the name of his late wife, MaryLu Clayton Rosenthal.

RIVERSIDE, Calif.—MaryLu Clayton Rosenthal’s lifelong love of the performing arts inspired her family and others with whom she shared her passion for tap dancing.

Students at the University of California, Riverside will benefit from that legacy of love in a dance studio named in her honor and with endowed scholarships in music, dance and theater. Mrs. Rosenthal, known affectionately by her family as Potchie, died in October 2010 at the age of 79.

A reception on Monday celebrated the naming of a dance studio in the UCR Arts Building for Mrs. Rosenthal.

Ginny Mahasin, Roberta Hawkins, and Robert Rosenthal look at the plaque honoring MaryLu Clayton Rosenthal. Photo by Peter Phun.

“Dance and music were a very important part of who she was,” said her husband, Robert Rosenthal, distinguished professor of psychology at UC Riverside. “She started very young and was active in dance all of her life.”

The gift from the Rosenthal family naming the dance studio honors her love of the performing arts and will help support students in those disciplines, her family said. Subsequent planned gifts will fund scholarships or fellowships in music, dance and theater.

“With these scholarships, MaryLu’s spirit will continue to inspire the dancers, musicians and writers who make the world more beautiful, interesting and worthwhile,” her family said. “The family would like to share her legacy with others as generously as she shared her love, talent and patience with them.”

The Rosenthals have three children—daughters Roberta Rosenthal Hawkins of Moreno Valley and Virginia Mahasin of Mountain View, Calif., and son David Rosenthal of Boston—and six grandchildren.

The Rosenthal family gift will support students, underwrite performances, and help to fund much-needed equipment, said Stephen Cullenberg, dean of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.

“Generations of future students, dancers, and performers who work and create in this dance studio will come to know MaryLu through the creative activities they undertake in this very unique space,” he said. “This donation provides greatly needed resources to support our academic mission. In difficult financial times all facets of the university are affected and unfortunately the performing arts are not insulated from tough budgetary decisions. Because of this, the Rosenthal family gift will have an even greater impact and will provide resources that would otherwise not be available to our students and faculty.”

A UC Riverside student dance group performs at a celebration of the gift to the campus. Photo by Peter Phun.

Mrs. Rosenthal began tap dancing as a child and played the saxophone, violin and piano in her high school orchestra, band and jazz group in Norwood, Ohio. She continued to play the piano and dance throughout her life, and taught tap dancing to senior citizens when she was in her 50s and 60s.

She played the piano every day, favoring the tunes of Gershwin, Porter, and Rodgers and Hammerstein, her family recalled.

“It’s a universal truth that the kitchen is the heart of the house, and since MaryLu was the heart of the family, her piano was, appropriately and for years, in the kitchen,” they wrote. “A former classroom teacher, librarian and a life-long learner, MaryLu’s home was lined with books on film, history, art and architecture, novels both humorous and mysterious, from Regency to Noir. She read them all, loaned many, bought the family more, and deeply respected good writers. She rarely admitted that she was one of them, but MaryLu’s letters, cards—often watercolors she’d done herself—and e-mails were smart, witty, sensitive tokens of cultural breadth, down-home wisdom, and maternal care; many were kept and reread and will continue to inspire us.”

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