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Ellen Diana Bindman-Hicks

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Ellen Diana Bindman-Hicks NORTH BENNINGTON, VT Ellen Diana Bindman-Hicks died Thursday, June 18th. Ellen was a person of great love, beauty and compassion. In her short life she touched the lives of many and accomplished a tremendous amount. Ellen was extraordinarily bright, sensitive and empathetic. She was a strong student with a love of literature, social sciences and especially the arts. Ellen was a creative non-conformist who danced to her own beat. Ellen was a brilliant visual and performing artist. She loved bright colors and bold patterns and was amazingly talented in many media. As a middle school student Ellen was introduced to charcoal portraiture and quickly developed great skill. Her Contemporary Medusa won the People's Choice Award in the 2008 Congressional Art Competition. Ellen's lively energy radiates from her vibrant portraits. Ellen's talent and passion for the stage emerged at an early age. In elementary school Ellen performed in many Shakespearian plays including the roles of Hermia in A Midsummer Night's Dream, the Fool in King Lear, Sebastian in Twelfth Night, and Marc Antony in Julius Caesar. When she was 11 Ellen was cast as Betty in the Hubbard Hall production of Arthur Miller's The Crucible. She then appeared in many other regional theater roles including Fern in Charlotte's Web with the Dorset Players, Melinda in Oldcastle Theatre's Inherit the Wind and Grandma Tzeitlel in the Deerfield Valley Players' production of Fiddler on the Roof. Sometimes these performances overlapped with school productions so Ellen handled several roles simultaneously. Actor and Bennington College professor Janis Young once said about Ellen, "She has what you can't teach." One of Ellen's favorite early roles was as the disaffected "Jazz" in Define Normal, a show based on a novel that she and a friend adapted for the stage and performed at Oldcastle Theatre. In high school Ellen played many ensemble roles in one-act plays, an experience that culminated with a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland to perform in the renowned Fringe Festival. Also in high school Ellen played Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Golde in Fiddler on the Roof. Ellen had the capacity to completely immerse herself in each character she portrayed by identifying with their emotions and had the ability to convey those feelings to the audience. As Golde she connected to the sorrow of a mother losing a child and by the end of every performance both she and the audience wept. Ellen's first taste of professional theater came when she was cast as Nikki Black in the Off-Broadway production of Tony 'n Tina's Wedding performed at Proctor's Theatre in Schenectady, New York. A year later she worked as a featured extra in a key scene in the motion picture to be released this summer, Taking Woodstock directed by Ang Lee. She loved every moment of the 14-hour days on set, soaking in all she could. These experiences clarified Ellen's determination to pursue an acting career. Ellen also had an incredible gift as a musician. From the time she was small, whenever Ellen sang the room became very quiet-the quiet of people listening intently to something they realize is special. She began to play guitar and write songs in the winter of 2008. With the encouragement of her mentor, Melissa Chesnut-Tangerman, she has written more than 40 songs and performed at South Street Café in Bennington, the Southern Vermont Arts Center, the Taos Inn in Taos, N.M., and Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs. Ellen's lyrics and melodies embody a depth and wisdom beyond her 17 years. Her music was not bounded by traditional ideas and her pure voice, unusual arrangements and lyrical poetry captivated listeners. She was looking forward to performing this summer in Cambridge, Mass., and an evening of her songs at Caffe Lena. Ellen was also working as a musician with the Main Street Stage upcoming production of Twelfth Night where she was understudying the lead role of Viola. Beyond Ellen's accomplishments as an artist, actor and singer/songwriter, she was an exceptional human being who gave encouragement and support to those around her. She stood up for others who were being marginalized. She was principled and stood her ground on issues of right and wrong even when she knew the consequences would be personally difficult. Everyone who knew Ellen was touched by her goodness, her sincerity and her shining smile. She will live on in our hearts and memories. Ellen would want us to honor her memory by practicing kindness to others. Ellen leaves her great-grandfather, Irving Adler; paternal grandparents, Donald and Frances Hicks; uncles, Arthur and Charles Hicks; aunts, Martha Hicks Robinson and Marion Warner Heekin; cousins, Caitlin and Bridget Robinson; grandparents, Albert and Judith Bindman; uncles, David Bindman and Martin Benjamin; aunt Veronica Savu; cousins, Iliana Bindman Zamorska, Chanel Lambie-Guerrero and N'Balia Lambie; aunt Laura Lambie Wallace; uncle Roland Wallace; extended family members Frank Sinay, Clemma and Sooner Dawsen, Ariel Lublin, Anna Strout; and her mother, Naomi Bindman. Ellen was predeceased by her great-grandmothers Joyce Sparer Adler and Catherine Warner Bishop, her grandmother Ellen Sparer Bindman and her father John Hicks. NOTICE: Donations can be made in Ellen's memory to the Second Chance Animal Shelter, or PAVE-Project Against Violent Encounters, Through the office of the MAHAR AND SON FUNERAL HOME, 628 Main st. Bennington, VT 05201. Online condolences may be made at www.maharandsonfuneralhome.net.
Published in Bennington Banner on June 27, 2009
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