Honorary Degree: Marcia Dale Weary
May 23, 2010
Citation presented by Sarah Skaggs, Director of Dance and Assistant Professor of Dance Studies
Conferring of the Degree by William G. Durden '71, President
Marcia Dale Weary
Precision, rigor, discipline, focus are all words we typically associate with ballet training. Hundreds if not thousands of ballet instructors teach ballet in local schools across the country and around the world. Many teachers rely on ribbon dances, sequined tutus and tiararized tots to keep their young students entertained throughout the rigors of a ballet class, but not Marcia Dale Weary. To understand what distinguishes Marcia Dale Weary from the field of ballet instructors worldwide, we need to trace a bit of her personal history.
From the outset of her own training in ballet, Marcia faced significant obstacles. After arriving in New York at the age of 17 expecting to embark on her ballet career, she was told by her teachers—Thalia Mara and Anthony Mahoney—that she needed to start all over. Devastated, she came back to Carlisle, Pa., and vowed to create a teaching method that would never leave a student unprepared. Since then, she has developed a method that has earned her a reputation as one of the preeminent ballet teachers in the world.
With a Zen-like approach, she breaks down each step into its infinitesimal components. Marcia is a sculptor of the ballet student body. She shapes the body through precise articulations. Her students repeat and repeat and repeat the constituent components of a step—piece by piece—until each part of the whole is perfected. Only then does a student advance to the next level. Similarly, Marcia’s system includes 10, not three levels of competence. Each student moves through a finely graded series toward perfection. No one is “passed through” her system.
Marcia Dale Weary (center) receives her honorary degree.
These methods have paid off; her students are some of the most refined, precise and articulate dancers in the field. She has produced many world-famous stars of ballet, who dance for such companies as the New York City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and American Ballet Theater, to name a few.
From rave reviews in The New York Times to numerous distinctions, such as the 2007 Pennsylvania Governor's Distinguished Citizen of the Commonwealth Award and recognition by the Central Penn Business Journal as a 2010 Woman of Influence, Marcia has been lauded for her work in establishing a world-class ballet school in Carlisle, Pa. During her 54-year career of superlative ballet teaching at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Marcia has set the bar high (pun intended) for ballet training everywhere.
For her unparalleled artistic vision, her unwavering dedication and the significant public service she has yielded to the Carlisle community and the dance world at large, we honor Marcia Dale Weary here today.
Mr. President, it is my honor and pleasure to present to you Marcia Dale Weary for the Honorary Degree of Doctor in the Performing Arts.
Marcia Dale Weary, upon the recommendation of the Faculty to the Board of Trustees, and by its mandamus, I confer upon you the Degree of Doctor of Performing Arts, honoris causa, with all the rights, privileges and distinction thereunto appertaining, in token of which I present you with this diploma and cause you to be invested with the hood of Dickinson College appropriate to the degree.