In 2015, $5,100 was donated to Iowa Dance Theatre in memory of Mary Joyce Lind Thomas. The entire donation amount was awarded on May 31, 2017, divided into three tiers. Receiving top tier scholarships were Teresa Feldman, Joleen Gamez and Katherine Sickels. Mid-level awardees were Payton Anderson and Mary Kellis, at tier three was Susanne Schemmel.
Applicants were between the ages of 16-19, members of Iowa Dance Theatre for at least 5 years, and performed in at least 6 Iowa Dance Theatre productions. They each submitted an audition video and a short essay with a brief discussion of their training and past achievements and summary of future goals as they relate to performing arts or arts education. Scholarships were awarded for the performance video (based on interpretation, artistry, musicality, technique, and talent) and essay (based on achievements, goals, and eloquence) rather than on the basis of financial need. There were six applicants and we felt they all deserved recognition.
Mary Joyce Lind Thomas was a tireless, devoted teacher, educator and inspiring artistic director for more than 70 years. She believed the dance arts are essential and integral to one’s life, education and to the community at large. Mary Joyce was deeply dedicated to infusing her community with the joy and spirit of dance for everyone. Iowa Dance Theatre is emblematic of her commitment. This scholarship award recognizes in each recipient a similar spirit and commitment to the arts and a dedication to the enduring spirit of dance whether through performance, choreography, teaching or education.
Here are some excerpts from the application essays (in alphabetical order):
Dance has given me the strength to believe that with hard work, I can achieve the goals I set in life. Because of dance, aspirations are born in my heart and mind. The path has not been trouble-free, rather, one of tough experience, a desire for personal growth, and a lesson in perseverance. (…) Performing with IDT has provided me the opportunity to take what I learn, put it together, and share it with an audience. (…) IDT has inspired me to not only reach for my dreams, but to work for them.
I’m so grateful for all of the performances I’ve had the ability to be in because of IDT. (…) IDT has also given me the opportunity of working with new and exciting choreographers. (…) The teachers I’ve had over the years have all imparted their love of dance to me, and their excellent training. Now that I am graduating, I plan to continue dance throughout college, whether as a major or not. One of my goals is to explore choreography as much as I can because that area has always interested me immensely. Whether as a teacher, choreographer, or dancer, I want to continue to be involved in the world of dance.
Over the years, I have become more enchanted by dance and I cannot imagine my life without it. (…) Being able to share my love of dance with other people is exhilarating. I believe every opportunity to perform is never an opportunity wasted. (…) In college, my goal is to have dance as one of my majors. Once I graduate, I plan to achieve my dream of joining a ballet company and, later on, become a principal dancer. I hope that someday I will be able to inspire others with my love of dance and be the spark that ignites their passion.
(Mary’s application video performance piece) is dedicated to Mary Joyce Lind Thomas, whose studio I danced at from preschool through my sophomore year of high school, when she passed away. I wanted to create a dance for her because of the large influence she had on my life. (…) I learned how to dance and how to love dance from Mary Joyce and I intend to share the love she instilled in me with children and adults alike. (…) My future plans include attending the University of Northern Iowa to major in Elementary Education. Once I am finished with college I would like to teach at a dance studio, and coach a high school dance team.
Having to opportunity to study under Mary Joyce as long as I did was such an amazing, fun, and inspiring opportunity. She not only taught me how to dance but she also inspired me to become a teacher. Being in her classes multiple times a week for over a decade taught me many things related to dance but she also taught me how to be confident in myself, work hard for your goals, and be proud of your work. Seeing first-hand how she instilled those values in her students and how proud she was when one of her students achieved something they had been working hard for is what made me want to become a teacher in both elementary and dance classrooms. (…) I hope to incorporate creative movement and dance into my classroom as an elementary teacher.
I would like to be a part of a ballet company when I graduate and as a result of this goal, I have decided to not attend college right out of high school but rather to travel and see what life has to offer in a ballet company. I would like to explore all of my options no matter how immense or compact they may be. (…) I believe whole-heartedly that nothing in life is just handed to someone but rather that one must work immensely at anything to become anything or to achieve anything. This is what gets me through hard times and dance and at school as well.