Roots and Wings

Virginia Tanner's Dance Life and Legacy

Roots and Wings recounts Virginia Tanner’s remarkable career as a dancer, artist, and educator. From her early experiences assisting at Evelyn Davis’s dance school in Washington, DC, to the creation of the Tanner Dance Program at the University of Utah, her influence on the field was pervasive. She channeled children’s energy, sharpened their senses, and encouraged youthful, authentic dance expression.

Manley’s extensive archival research and personal interviews depict Virginia Tanner as an innovative dance artist and ambitious leader in the field of modern dance. While exploring Tanner’s story, Roots and Wings emphasizes the value of unique instructional methodologies for teaching dance to young children and the vital role the arts play in children’s lives. Tanner’s work endures, continuing to echo with sensitivity and spirit in young dancers throughout the United States and abroad.

Mary-Elizabeth Manley is professor emerita and senior scholar in York University’s Department of Dance. Selected research appears in the Congress on Research in Dance (CORD), Dance Education Around the World and in Dance and the Child: International (daCi) conference proceedings. She was the chief editor for daCi’s First 30 Years: Rich Returns and directed ArtStart, an innovative children’s community dance and arts program at York University.

Robert Bruce Bennett (1915–2006) was the husband of Virginia Tanner and the business manager of the Virginia Tanner Creative Dance Program and the Children’s Dance Theatre.

Mary Ann Lee is director of the University of Utah Tanner Dance Program and Children’s Dance Theatre and adjunct associate professor of modern dance in the School of Dance at the University of Utah. She has published articles and a book on dance pedagogy for young dancers.
Table of Contents:

Introduction: A Gift of Dance Freely Given

Chapter 1 Awakening: Born to a Place and Time 
Chapter 2 Distant Voices: In Search of a Calling
Chapter 3 Inspiration: Summer Schools in the Rockies
Chapter 4 Hop- Scotching
Chapter 5 Uncharted Territory: Launching a Career
Chapter 6 Birth of a Young Company
Chapter 7 Balance: The Juggling Act
Chapter 8 Springboards: The Buttermilk Tree
Chapter 9 Children: Straight Out of Heaven
Chapter 10 Imagination: The Beauty of Childhood
Chapter 11 Liftoff: When Dreams Take Flight
Chapter 12 Invitations: Westward Ho 
Chapter 13 Virginia: “The Breadwinner” 
Chapter 14 Sunshine and Sand: Hawaii Beckons 
Chapter 15 A Master Teacher: IMPACT Calls 
Chapter 16 Bright with Promise: The Golden Age for the Arts in Education 
Chapter 17 Bulldozers on the Horizon: A Search for Home 
Chapter 18 What Joy They Gave Unknowingly 
Chapter 19 Unstoppable Drive: A Brilliant Journey
Coda You Taught My Soul to Dance


Praise and Reviews:“This work is a significant contribution. Biographical information on people such as Virginia Tanner, who devoted their lives to the development of children through the arts, is almost nonexistent.”
—Douglas C. Sonntag, emeritus Director of Dance, National Endowment for the Arts