Martha Myers, Henry B. Plant professor emeritus of dance, passed away May 24, 2022, in New York City. A prolific educator and performer, she taught at Connecticut College for 26 years, from 1967-1993.
Born in 1925 in Napa, California, she moved to Richmond, Virginia, after the death of her father when she was 3 years old. She grew up with her cousin and former Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, Jr. She received a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and a master’s from Smith College, where she worked as an assistant professor in the physical education department for more than 10 years.
She enjoyed a career in television prior to roles as a performer and educator. WBNS, a television station in Columbus, Ohio, hired her to host a morning exercise and health program. Due to the popularity of this segment, the station asked her to co-anchor the noon news show, making her one of the first female news anchors in the country. Subsequently, she was involved in a series of nine television programs titled "A Time To Dance," a precursor to "Dance in America," for which she served as writer, narrator and co-producer with Jac Venza of WGBH/Boston.
She came to Connecticut College in 1967 and established the bachelor’s and master’s in fine arts degrees in dance. Shortly thereafter in 1969, she was named dean of the school at the American Dance Festival, where she pioneered the study of dance medicine and somatics and mentored thousands of dance students before retiring in 2000. After her retirement, she continued to teach at the American Dance Festival's winter intensives in New York City. In 2020, she published "Don't Sit Down: Reflections on Life and Work" with co-editors Ara Fitzgerald and Stuart Pimsler, who described her as "among a select group of visionaries who helped scatter the seeds of American dance."
Her illustrious career in dance as a performer, educator, choreographer and writer spanned 50 years. Among her many honors, she was awarded honorary degrees from Smith College and Manhattanville College and received lifetime achievement awards from the American Dance Guild and the Martha Hill Foundation as well as the Balasaraswati/Joy Anne Dewey Beinecke Endowed Chair for Distinguished Teaching from the American Dance Festival.
Professor of Dance David Dorfman ’81 writes: “To me, Martha built the dance department with the credo, ‘Know thyself, and then give kinetic poetics to others and the world.’ Her keen interests in dance medicine, somatic practices, writing, dance studies and the power, beauty and intelligence of the moving body were key in bringing the dance department to national prominence. Martha, my ‘dance mom,’ taught me and countless others how to honor a creator’s relationship to self and audience; to press ourselves for betterment every moment; to try it again; to give needed cues to viewers; to experience newness; to see form as content; to keep digging deeper; to live poetically; and above all to always love what you do and to always be curious and candid. She will continue to inspire me daily.”
During Reunion weekend, the College hosted a celebration June 3 of Professor Myers with an open mic, movement circle, improvisation and performances by David Dorfman; Lisa Race, Connecticut College professor of dance; Gloria McLean ’71, president of the American Dance Guild; Ara Fitzgerald ’69, professor of dance and theater at Manhattanville College; and Stuart Pimsler MFA ’78, the artistic co-director of Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater.
She is survived by her son Curt, his wife Leslie Myers and her three grandsons, Drew, Evan and Adam