Mary Joyce Lind Thomas was the Founder of Iowa Dance Theatre. She was born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa and was involved in dance from a very young age. Mary Joyce toured professionally in the Midwest and Canada as a teenager in the Dancing Debs, performing at fairs and for servicemen. She spent three years at Drake University as a Drama / Music Major. Mary Joyce married Alfred D. Thomas in 1950 and had three children – Jana, Eileen and Betsye. Eileen went on to become a Bessie Award winning dancer in New York City.
Mary Joyce taught dancing for 72 years. She owned and taught first at Mary Joyce Lind Dance Studio, directed and taught at Des Moines Ballet School for a brief period, then re-established her studio as Lind Dance School. Mary Joyce founded the Des Moines Civic Ballet Company in 1965 and continued as artistic director and choreographer until 1978. In 1982, she founded Iowa Dance Theatre and continued as artistic director and choreographer until she passed in 2015.
Ms. Lind had ongoing training from Stone-Camryn School of Ballet in Chicago, Illinois from 1953-1980, where she often brought young students to train in the summers. She kept continuous contact with master teachers at seminars, conferences and workshops. Mary Joyce participated in the National Craft of Choreography Conferences in California, Wisconsin and Nebraska. As founder of the first civic ballet company in Central Iowa, she brought them in to the Mid-States Regional Ballet Festivals.
Besides her dance school and companies, Mary Joyce taught master classes for Iowa Dance Council, Iowa Arts Council, master classes at Drake University, lecture-demonstrations in Des Moines Public Schools, programs for Magnet Schools, Adult Education, Glen Ellyn Children’s Dance Theatre, summer workshops for Greensboro Civic Ballet in N. Carolina, and developed the dance curriculum for the Donna Reed Performing Arts Workshop in Denison, Iowa.
Mary Joyce choreographed for Drake University Night of Opera (14 years), Des Moines Community Playhouse productions, Drama Workshop, Ingersoll Dinner Theatre, Des Moines Metro Opera (6 years) and North, Roosevelt and Tech High School productions. Some of the shows she choreographed were Gypsy, Fantasticks, Little Mary Sunshine, Music Man and Pajama Game. Dancers trained with Mary Joyce have appeared with Minnesota Dance Theatre, Kansas City Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, Princeton Ballet, Nevada Dance Theatre, American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet, Susan Marshall Company (New York City), and performed on Broadway.