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Two honored with dance advocacy award

Feb. 11, 2011

KALAMAZOO--Retired Western Michigan University professor and dance advocate Clara Gamble and teacher and choreographer Kathryn Williams have been chosen to receive this year's Community Dance Advocacy Award, sponsored by WMU's Partners in Dance.

The awards will be presented at a Great Works dinner at the Cityscape Event Center in downtown Kalamazoo Friday, Feb. 18, prior to that evening's Winter Gala Dance Concert at WMU.

Partners in Dance created the Community Dance Advocacy Award to highlight and recognize the extent of dance activity and leadership in the greater Kalamazoo area. It is given annually to honor a leader or volunteer who has demonstrated significant accomplishments in advancing and supporting dance in the Greater Kalamazoo area. Nominations are accepted each fall.

For more information about the Community Dance Advocacy Awards Dinner, contact the Department of Dance at (269) 387-5830. Details of this year's Winter Gala Dance Concert can be found online in WMU News.

Clara Gamble, professor emerita of dance at WMU, was nominated based on her contributions as teacher, artist, collaborator, mentor and supporter. One nominator described Gamble as the "mother of modern dance in Kalamazoo." Another nominator described her as the "heart and sinew of the dance program at WMU during its transition from a concentration area with the Department of Physical Education for Women to a separate Department of Dance in the College of Fine Arts." Her exemplary teaching skills led to her being awarded the WMU Alumni Teaching Excellence Award in 1984.

As an artist, she was sought after because of her commitment to the highest composition and production values. Her knowledge and work with dance pioneer Erick Hawkins influenced the selection of guest artists brought to Kalamazoo. These residencies introduced Cori Terry to Kalamazoo and eventually led to Terry's one-year teaching appointment at WMU and her subsequent development of Wellspring/Cori Terry and Dancers. Gamble has been an avid supporter of modern dance and the arts in Greater Kalamazoo for decades. Much of her service, like her philanthropy, takes place behind the scenes.

Kathryn Williams has choreographed and taught in the Kalamazoo area for more than 30 years. Credits include musical theatre choreography at the Kalamazoo Civic Theater, the Farmer's Alley Theatre, Portage Northern High School, Loy Norrix High School, Kalamazoo Central High School, the Kindleberger Summer Arts Festival and the Kalamazoo Children's Chorus. She has also performed with the Kalamazoo Civic Theater and Paw Paw Village Players.

Williams has been a teaching artist for the Education for the Arts PACE program and has devoted countless hours to the United Teen Talent Show. She is a dance instructor at WMU, where she teaches social dance styles for the stage, creative movement pedagogy, and a dance appreciation course for non-dance majors. One nominator described Williams as "one of the best-kept secrets in the world of Kalamazoo's performing arts." The nominator described Williams as one who makes real theatre magic by inspiring community performers with her quirky and effervescent personality, and passion and love of the arts and life itself.

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Media contact: Tonya Durlach, (269) 387-8400, tonya.durlach@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400