love of dance, belief in children, and passion for excellence, and
what do you get? Roots and wings.
the Virginia Tanner Creative Dance Program gives each of its dancers:
roots in the fundamentals of dance and wings for creative flight. As
Mary Ann Lee BA'68, director of the program and associate professor
/ lecturer in the Department of Modern Dance, says, "Our students
learn to soar, not just to dance." But "roots and wings"
the program's slogan represents the Virginia Tanner Creative
Dance Program in many more ways.
is rooted in the philosophy that children bloom under loving care. In
1941 Virginia Tanner BA'40 was appointed director of dance at the McCune
School of Music and Art. Her primary goal was to establish a youth-oriented
program that would provide the best possible dance training. She was
confident that wholesome creative activity would help children develop
alert minds, healthy bodies, and strong character.
took wing in 1949 when Miss Virginia's dancers presented their first
concert in Kingsbury Hall. The audience watched in wonder. One spectator
commented, "This source of fresh ideas is a treasure house to which
[Virginia Tanner] found the key." Thus, the performing arm of the
program the Children's Dance Theatre began.
direction, the Children's Dance Theatre has received numerous awards,
performed across the state (for more than 45,000 Utahns each year) and
across the nation, traveled internationally, and was featured at the
2002 Olympic Winter Games. But most important, the program has established
a place in the community, finding countless ways to share the wonder
of dance with diverse audiences.
programs now extend from inner city schools to more affluent neighborhoods.
Classes for those who otherwise would not experience the joy and freedom
of dance because of economic, physical, or emotional limitations are
held at the studio and at local hospitals. Dance/music interactions
take place weekly in eldercare facilities. And as part of the University's
modern dance department, the program introduces dance to those who will
soon teach a new generation of children.
it's that new generation that is at the heart of the program. As Lee
says, CDT "is a place where children learn the discipline and art
form of dance, freely express their inner vision of the world, realize
their dreams, and grow into beautiful human beings."
Continuum intern Kathryn Austin Maksimov BA'00 is a full-time
technical writer and a freelance writer.