Mary KathrynKacyWiedebusch, professor, dance coordinator and artistic director of the Orchesis Dance Ensemble at West Virginia University, will retire in May.

Wiedebusch, often referred to as WVU sfirst lady of dance,has been an active teacher, mentor and choreographer for 50 years. She embodies the history of dance at the University, friends and colleagues say.

A dance gala celebrating her career is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3, in the Lyell B. Clay Concert Theatre at the Creative Arts Center. Current and former students, colleagues, family members and guests are invited to commemorate the event in grand style as members of the Orchesis and Percussion Ensembles perform special selections. A video tribute is also planned.

Kacy built a dance program that has been recognized throughout the country, the region and the state,said Dean of the College of Creative Arts Bernie Schultz.Her innovative programming included dance residencies with nationally recognized guest artists and community outreach efforts that provided dance instruction for students of all ages.

She was a founding member and on the executive committee for the first pilot festival of the American College Dance Festival Association held at the University of Pittsburgh in 1973. Under her direction, the WVU dance program and the Orchesis Dance Ensemble were instrumental in the development of the West Virginia State Dance Festival. She has been a promoter of dance and dance education throughout the country, and has received many national and regional honors.

All who love dance and the contributions of thislegend and treasure of dance in West Virginiaare invited to the Nov. 3 gala.