Roots and Wings

Virginia Tanner's Dance Life and Legacy

Roots and Wings recounts Virginia Tanner’s remarkable career as a dance artist, educator, and founder of the University of Utah’s Tanner Dance Program. From her early experiences assisting at Evelyn Davis’s dance school in Washington, D.C., to the creation of the Tanner Dance Program at the University of Utah, her influence in the field was pervasive. She channeled children’s energy, sharpened their senses, and encouraged youthful, authentic dance expression. Tanner’s work endures, continuing to echo with sensitivity and spirit in the bodies of young dancers throughout the United States and abroad.

By revealing both the broader and specific themes of Tanner’s career and legacy, this narrative fills an important void. While exploring Tanner’s story, it also recognizes the value of unique instructional methodologies for teaching dance to young children and the vital role the arts play in children’s lives.
Mary-Elizabeth Manley is professor emerita and senior scholar in York University’s Dance Department. Her research has been published extensively in Dance and the Child International (daCi) Congress conference proceedings. She was the chief editor for daCi’s First 30 Years: Rich Returns and directed ARTStart, a children’s community dance and arts program at York University.
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.
Robert Bruce Bennett (1915–2006) was the husband of Virginia Tanner and the business manager of the Virginia Tanner Creative Dance Studio and the Children’s Dance Theatre.

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