Laura Bleiberg, a nationally recognized dance critic and arts journalist with longstanding ties to Orange County, died Tuesday night after a long illness. Bleiberg, who lived in Long Beach, was 65.
Bleiberg worked for The Orange County Register as a dance critic and arts reporter from 1989 to 2008. She was also a senior editor at Orange Coast Magazine from 2012 to 2017. More recently, Bleiberg provided incisive writing on dance and other art forms for Voice of OC’s Arts & Culture section for several years after its inception in 2018.
Bleiberg was an experienced fundraiser for the arts as well, working in that capacity at South Coast Repertory and the Irvine Barclay Theatre.
A native of Los Angeles, Bleiberg earned an undergraduate degree in history at Scripps College and a master’s degree in journalism at Northwestern University. Her stories have appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, L.A. Weekly, Zocalo Public Square, GQ Magazine, Orange Coast Magazine, CalArts magazine The Pool and other publications.
Among Bleiberg’s many honors was an invitation by the Library of Congress to include her article for Voice of OC’s Decade Ahead series in its archive. These stories coincided with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, giving Bleiberg’s insights a unique perspective on issues confronting arts companies.
“What Laura represented was an attitude that dance was vitally important to the community,” said Larry Rosenberg, director of Anaheim Ballet. “She believed that dance could say something — it wasn’t just entertaining but inspiring and edifying. It was a major blow to local dance and arts coverage when she left The Orange County Register. We didn’t always agree with Laura, but underneath it all we agreed on the importance of dance.”
Those of us who worked with Laura at the Register, Voice of OC and other news organizations will remember her for her deep knowledge of dance, her passion for the arts and her well-honed journalism skills. She was also a trusted colleague and friend. Her coverage of Southern California’s dance scene during a period of upheaval and expansion left a vital record for future chroniclers and historians. She will be deeply missed, but her legacy will prove invaluable.