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Margaret Small Mains - 2004 - Outstanding Former Faculty
Theatre and Dance Department
Dance as long as you live, is Margie Mains’ philosophy, and she practices what she teaches. To this day, Mains can be found stretching at the dance bar in the Margie Mains Dance Studio on the UW campus. She has traveled throughout the world, as far away as Japan, to teach dance, and she is an avid supporter of the UW dance program.
In 1936, Mains earned degrees in French and history from DePauw University, Following graduation, she taught French in a small consolidated school near Notre Dame University. After reading a 1938 Life magazine article about dance at Bennington College, Vermont, Mains virtually changed course. Although she had no previous dance training, Mains attended the “Bennington of the West”—Mills College summer school in dance.
When summer school came to a close, she was encouraged to continue her dance education under Marge H’Doublet at the University of Wisconsin. After receiving her master’s degree at the end of the summer of 1942, Mains took her first dance instructor position at Ball State Teachers College. In 1948, she came to the University of Wyoming as the only member of the dance faculty. For more than 30 years, Mains offered courses in technique, composition, world history of dance, dance appreciation, dance for children, and dance in secondary schools. In addition, she offered classes in social, round, folk, square, tap, and modern dance.
Mains commitment to teaching is apparent. Over the years, she offered workshops throughout the country and taught people of all ages. Her tireless efforts ranged from commuting to Rawlins, Wyoming, on Saturday mornings to offer dance to children to serving as Wyoming’s 1990 delegate to the Kennedy Center’s Alliance for Arts Education conference.
Throughout her career, Mains received numerous awards, including the National Dance Association Heritage Award (1991) and the Wyoming Governor’s Arts Council Award (1993). She was selected by the Kennedy Center to participate in dance education for an exchange program between the United States and Poland in 1977. She has published several professional articles and A Modern Dance Manual (1950).
Maragret Stalder, a lecturer in the Department of Theatre and Dance and former student of Mains, noted, “Margie comes from a generation of dance educators who set the standard for the presence of dance in higher education. What Margie established at the University of Wyoming was not unique in the dance world—rather her program rivaled others around the country for their content and depth. But Margie did this completely on her won and in a very isolated region. The success of the dance department today speaks to her efforts at paving the way for its future. Her efforts in establishing a program have made it possible for us to continue it.”