Leaving a legacy

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Photos: Marianne Pickens// Story: Amanda Alfanos

A group of five female dancers hold hands as they bourrée on their toes in a circle. The performers, wearing leotards and tights, carefully assume a kneeling position in the sun-lit studio, raising their intertwined hands into the air. Their faces exude grins as their hands release and the song, “A Whole New World” from Disney’s “Aladdin” ends.

It’s not every dance class in the Ann Lacy School of American Dance and Arts Management that students execute this improvisation  — it’s “Fun Music Friday.”

The class is a component Mary Price Boday implements into her curriculum. She came to OCU in 2005. Boday is an associate professor of dance and head of the program’s American Dance Pedagogy track.

But Fun Music Fridays and other components like “cross training,” a Pilates-like class that Boday fostered, will end in May at OCU. Boday plans to depart from the university to care for her ill daughter — but her legacy among OCU dancers won’t end there, said Lisa Nelson, dance performance senior.

“She really understands that while dancing is what we love to do, ballet can get mundane at times,” Nelson said. “She allows students to bring her music and when it’s Friday and the end of the week, she realizes we need a relief.”

Music dancers might execute combinations to during “Fun Music Friday” include “A Bushel and a Peck” from “Veggie Tales,” “When I Grow Up” by Pussycat Dolls and “A Whole New World.”

“I always end class with ‘A Whole New World,’” Boday said. “The students really look forward to it and it makes them happy and puts them in a good mood.”

Boday said she sometimes spends two days listening to the music prior to choreographing and developing class plans, despite the fun nature of the music.

She puts extra consideration into her classes for her students, Nelson said.

“What Mary brings to the OCU ballet faculty is attention to detail,” she said. “In ballet, that’s such a huge aspect.”

Boday, who retired from dancing professionally in 1976, said much of her style is inspired by David Howard, faculty member at Broadway Dance Center in New York City.

“I always find that dancers make that huge bar that I reach them out to go to,” Boday said. “I also teach with the philosophy that it’s not perfect at the beginning.

“I’d rather them feel the kinetic energy and the flow and then we correct and clean as we go, so there’s no fear in anything they do. They really just dance.”

Nelson approached Boday after class last semester and asked her if she had considered publishing her works.

“She brings this huge notebook to her classes, it’s not even a three-subject notebook,” Nelson said. “It’s more like a five-subject notebook.

“I remember her alluding to it at one time, saying that her class was in the book.”

Boday could rattle off any combination by number from the book and Nelson said she thought it was amazing.

“Students wanted copies of my notes,” Boday said. “I told them definitely that they could have the notes, but they could never read them the way I’d scrolled them out.”

Boday began typing up her notes during Christmas break. She continues to transcribe each class, which takes about 12 hours. Her works will be published in volumes, with 16 classes in each edition.

Boday said she plans to publish the first volume by the end of April.

“It’s been an amazing feat on her behalf,” Nelson said. “I’m so excited that she’s willing to pass this wealth of knowledge onto students.

“I can’t even fathom its value.”

About 200 of Boday’s students have expressed interest in purchasing her works via Facebook. The first volume will be $30-$35 and mailed to interested students, Boday said.

“Her legacy will live beyond a class,” Nelson said. “It’s something tangible we can use to pass on her teaching.

“Her legacy will live on longer because of this book.”

For more information or to purchase a copy search for “Mary Price Boday is Publishing Her Works” on Facebook.

This article initially appeared in the Feb. 23 issue of The Campus newspaper.

1 comments
Rosie Blosser
Rosie Blosser

I am so happy that Mary took the time to publish her work. I am also thankful for students like Lisa Nelson that encouraged Mary to do so by letting her know how much everyone values her classes, teaching skills and heart. I feel personally touched by Mary Price-Boday and believe that teachers like her are extremely rare. When I leave her class I feel like I can do anything! The love she has for the arts and her students cannot be explained. She will never be forgotten at OCU and I hope that incoming dance majors who have not had the privilege to have Mary as a teacher will find a way to take class with her. She is truly an inspiration! -Rosie Blosser

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