2019 Lifetime Achievement Honoree
Kathie Debenham, Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst, retired as Professor of Dance in June 2019 after teaching, creating and administering at Utah Valley University for 24 years. She saw UVU grow from 8000 to nearly 40,000 students as it changed roles from community college to regional state college to university. After teaching as adjunct faculty there from 1989-1995, she was hired as the first Dance faculty member through a national tenure track search in 1995 and worked with Connie Reynolds to begin to build the Dance program. Kathie developed the curriculum for the AS in Dance including the creation of Synergy Dance Company, the Integrated Studies Dance emphasis, and oversaw the development, writing and eventual approval of the BFA in Dance, the BS in Dance Education, and the BS in Ballroom Dance. She served as the founding Chair of the Dance Department, then Associate Dean and Interim Dean of the College of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences, founding Interim Dean of the School of the Arts, and Associate Vice President for Academic Programs before resuming her most-loved faculty role in 2012. Kathie has been recognized with the UVU Teaching Excellence award, and the prestigious UVU Trustee’s Award and the UVU Presidential Excellence Award.
Believing whole-heartedly in institutional and community service, Kathie also served the institution as Director of Institutional Effectiveness, co-chair of the Strategic Directions Advisory Committee and the Faculty Workload Taskforce, chair of the UVU General Education Committee, member of the USHE General Education Task Force and the Re-Imagining the Undergraduate Experience Committee, and founding member of the UVU Women’s Council. She served for 8 years on the Orem Arts Council and advocated for arts access in the community. In each of these settings, Kathie found her Dance training gave necessary and essential creative and critical thinking abilities, the capacity to engage diverse perspectives, the ability to collaborate, to work through difficult situations, to be resilient, to communicate compellingly verbally and in writing, to stick it out until the job was done, to encourage others to contribute their strengths, and to find humor and joy along the way.
Prior to joining the UVU faculty fulltime, Kathie taught as adjunct faculty at Brigham Young University from 1976-1995 where she also worked with Christine Ollerton as a co-director of the Young DanceMakers and associate director of the BYU Children and Teens’ Creative Dance Program. While at BYU, Kathie joined with Chris and Cathy Black to create and present choreography for the plenary sessions of the BYU Women’s Conference. She was a member of the Provo Integrated Arts Team from 1976-1981 and worked with the Utah State Office of Education to provide arts in service to rural areas. As a faculty member at the Waterford School from 1985-1989, Kathie developed the and taught the Dance curriculum for Preschool, Lower School and Middle and Upper Schools which she later developed for the Meridian School as well. During these years she was also an Artist-Teacher for the Utah State Arts Council.
Along with Doris Hudson-Trujillo and her husband Pat, Kathie created, co-directed, performed with and choreographed for Contemporary DANCEWORKS (CDW) from 1986-2001. Funded by grants from the Utah State Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, CDW provided the directors and their professional colleagues with opportunities to create work and perform as well as conduct teaching residencies in Utah public schools as well as in the Midwest.
Kathie has long been active in teaching and presenting regionally, nationally and internationally and has published widely in juried and invited settings on dance pedagogy, performance, movement analysis and somatic practice. As a founding board member and former Board Chair of the Utah Women in Higher Education Network (UWHEN), she presented in numerous settings on embodiment, art, and leadership. In 2019 Kathie received the UWHEN Distinguished Service Award. She is a Fellow of the Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters and was the 2012 Honored Alumnus the BYU College of Fine Arts.
Currently Kathie serves on the Advisory Board of the Center for Latter-day Saint Arts (CLDSA) in NYC and as chair of the CLDSA Education committee. She is also a member of the Journal of Dance, Movement & Spiritualities Editorial Board. She and her husband Pat have enjoyed many years of artistic collaboration with family-making at the heart of their dance-making. Their daughters, Whitney Hasler, Marney Schaumann and Kelby Ellis each teach creative dance/Magical Movers in various settings and they have given them 13 dancing grandchildren. Presently Kathie is happily creating a new chapter in her “one wild and precious life.” [Mary Oliver, Summer Day]