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Published December 21, 2018
Marsha Knight, a professor in the University of Wyoming Department of Theatre and Dance, is the recipient of a 2018 Wyoming Governor’s Arts Award.
Established in 1982, the Governor’s Arts Awards recognize the substantial contributions made in Wyoming by those whose work exemplifies a long-term commitment to the arts.
Other recipients this year are Karyne Dunbar, a visual artist and educator from Shell; Elaine Henry, a ceramics artist, educator and editor from Big Horn; and Keith Seidel, an artisan and leatherworker from Cody. The recipients will be honored at a dinner and awards ceremony Friday, Feb. 8, in Cheyenne.
Knight teaches ballet, historical dance and composition. She has choreographed numerous short works and musical theater productions, as well as several full-length productions, including “The Nutcracker,” “Coppelia,” “Pulcinella” and “Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth.” Knight’s contemporary ballet “Of a Mind” was selected for presentation at the Kennedy Center in May 2006 through the adjudication process of the American College Dance Festival.
“Marsha Knight is a highly regarded teacher and choreographer whose artistic contributions to the state, region and nation have been of the highest quality for the past 30-plus years,” says faculty colleague and nominator Margaret Wilson.
Knight has received many awards during her tenure at UW, including the UW Alumni Association’s Outstanding Faculty Member Award; the Ellbogen Award for Meritorious Classroom Teaching; a Wyoming Arts Council Performing Arts Fellowship in choreography; and the Flittie Sabbatical. Additionally, she was a CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) award nominee.
Knight spent a sabbatical year in 2016-17 in New York City to conduct research at the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration, Oral History Library. From this, she substantively revised her 2009 work, “Six Songs from Ellis,” a multigenre piece based on oral histories of immigrants who passed through Ellis Island. The work was a regional finalist at the 2010 Region VII Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. In recognition of this work, Knight was selected to present for the UW President’s Speaker Series, which honors individuals who have made important, well-rounded contributions to the university’s standing.
During her sabbatical, Knight served on the teaching staff at Ballet Academy East’s Adult Division and as a substitute teacher at the Dance Theatre of Harlem School’s Upper Division. She also spent a month in Moscow and St. Petersburg, where she observed dancing at the Vaganova Ballet Academy, actor training at Moscow Art Theatre, and numerous dance and theater productions.
Knight also specializes in historical dance forms and reconstruction, training with Stanford University’s Baroque Dance Workshops and the Historical Dance Foundation, and receiving private instruction in New York City under the direction of Wendy Hilton. Knight has twice taught in London through UW’s London Semester Program, furthering her study of teaching methodology and Baroque dance at the Royal Academy of Dance.
She recently completed her second term on the Executive Committee for the American College Dance Festival Association, with previous service as Northwest regional director.
“A precise and inspired creator of movement, Marsha has the energy, vision and tenacity to create works of the highest quality,” Wilson says. “Her nomination, and recognition for a Governor’s Arts Award, is long overdue but is being made at the zenith of her career.”