We mourn the passing of one of the central figures of my life, a giant on whose shoulders I have always stood, Joan Moyer Clark. She taught ballet and dance and brought culture and imagination to thousands in an area where little existed in the 60s and 70s, when I was growing up.
She lit the light inside many a child's heart, teaching them to believe in themselves, to master their bodies through a difficult art form, to discipline their minds to achieve that task, to be musical, to work hard, to be unafraid of shining, to communicate from an intelligence more authentic and more compelling than the intellect.
She plucked talented children from unsuspecting parents and took us to New York to study. She found scholarships for us. She created special classes for us at her Sunbury studio, The Moyer Institute of Dance. She created and produced a traveling ensemble, "The Sights & Sounds of the Seventies," in collaboration with local orchestras, giving us the opportunity to perform on university and other stages, on public television. She opened her home to us and was the aunt or second mother we needed, to become the people we were capable of becoming. She packed us up on Friday mornings, skipping school, to do lecture demonstrations in the middle and high schools of central Pennsylvania, educating and exposing the masses to art, to beauty, to the miracle of human achievement that is ballet.
She made us part of her mission to install dance programs in universities like Bucknell and Susquehanna, giving us leadership opportunities as we modeled technique and led the college kids in her choreographies, though we were all of 10, 12, 15 at best. Many of us went on to dance with the world's great dance companies, performing on the celebrated stages and opera houses of the United States and Europe, on every continent (save Antarctica), on Broadway.