People Staff
June 04, 1979 12:00 PM

Susan Berman, 25, spends 10 to 18 hours a day meticulously designing jewelry in her Chicago studio and already has a staff of six apprenticing with her. Her work ranges from chunky, geometric bracelets to complicated jeweled pieces combining as many as 21 elements. They include lapis, ebony, ivory (she buys it by the tusk), gold and diamonds. Jeweler Donald Levinson describes Berman as “the most exciting artist to come on the jewelry scene in the last 20 years,” but then it’s his Michigan Avenue store, Trabert & Hoeffer, that sells her designs exclusively for $100 to $40,000. Her mother was a fashion designer, and Susan was turned on by art when she saw an exhibition of paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe during her freshman year in high school. “I bought some big canvases and painted up a storm,” she remembers. In 1972 Berman entered the Rhode Island School of Design, eventually switching her major from painting to sculpture, for which she learned welding and silversmithing. She still paints (and has been exhibited in juried shows) but is wrapped up in her jewelry—literally. “I have to wear my own,” she chuckles, “because I still can’t afford anyone else’s.”

Patrick Bissell is, at 21, on his way to becoming a major dance star. After just two years with New York’s American Ballet Theatre, he has leapt from the corps de ballet to soloist and now to principal dancer, performing in 10 major roles, including one choreographed especially for him by Antony Tudor. The towering (6’2″) dancer points out that “if they hadn’t needed big men to partner the taller girls, I could have been forgotten.” But his height brings problems. “Things you don’t do properly are noticed more.” In school outside Toledo, Patrick went out for track, basketball and football and got interested in dance only after his sister said it would make him stronger. “I needed the strength when the other kids found out,” he laughs. Spotted at 16, he got a scholarship to George Ballanchine’s School of American Ballet and later danced with the Boston Ballet. At ABT he is trying Baryshnikov’s old roles for size, but regards comparisons as premature. “What I need right now,” he says, “is polish and an emotional understanding that reaches people.”

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