West Virginia University’s Dance Concert 2006 will be the final curtain call for Professor Mary KathryneKacyWiedebusch, dance coordinator and artistic director of the Orchesis Dance Ensemble, who will retire in May after serving WVU for 51 years.

Wiedebusch is known as WVU ‘sFirst Lady of Danceand is an active teacher, mentor and choreographer who embodies the history of dance at the University.

The concert, featuring the Orchesis Dance Ensemble, will be held in the Lyell B. Clay Concert Theatre at the Creative Arts Center , March 2-4, with special guest George Willis, director of the WVU Percussion Ensemble.

Orchesis also celebrates its 78th anniversary with Dance Concert 2006, which features the premiere of a new choreography by the dance program’s 2005 artist-in-residence, Bob Durkin, as well as pieces by the faculty and student choreographers in modern, ballet and jazz dance.

Under the artistic direction of Wiedebusch and her daughter, Carole Wiedebuschwho has served in many roles as assistant director, choreographer and principal dancerthe evening performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. There will also be a matinee performance on Saturday, March 4, at 2 p.m.

Prior to the matinee will be anUpfront and Backstagepresentation, beginning at 12:30 p.m. in the lobby of the Lyell B. Clay Concert Theatre. These presentations by the Division of Theatre and Dance give the public an opportunity to meet the people behind the scenes, tour backstage, and visit the shops where lighting, sound, scenery, props and costumes are created.

Concert highlights includeThree Dances With Marimba,performed by soloist George Willis, with faculty choreographers Kacy and Carole Wiedebusch. Other works will includeThe Dreamer’s Dictionary, Third Edition,by 2004 artist-in-residence

Teresa Chapman; and choreography by students in the dance program.

The finale will be a special choreography by Durkin, featuring works from musical theater, includingA Chorus Line,Tea For Two,Thoroughly Modern MillieandYou Can Dance.

A native of Clarksburg , Wiedebusch received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from WVU and has been teaching at the University since 1955. Under her guidance, the dance program grew from a few classes offered in the School of Physical Education to a full-scale innovative dance curriculum.

In the 1960s Wiedebusch also played a pivotal role in creating the Elizabeth Moore Dance Studio on the downtown campus and in 1978 she founded the artist-in-residence program, which has been a major catalyst in the professional development of students studying dance at WVU . Each year, an artist of national reputation has been in residence at WVU to create new work and to teach and inspire students.

Wiedebusch 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, among them the West Virginia Dance Educator of the year Award (twice in the 1990s), WVU ’s Outstanding Teacher Award (1991-92), and induction into the WVU School of Physical Education Hall of Fame (1994). She is listed in Who’s Who of American Women 2001 and the World’s Who’s Who of Women in Education in 2000 and in 2006. Her research emphasis is the London Contemporary Dance Theatre School and Trust and its founder, Robin Howard.

Dance Concert 2006 will also be the 51 st concert artistically directed by Wiedebusch and featuring the WVU Orchesis Dance Ensemble. The Ensemble was founded in 1928-29 with a nucleus of young women who were experimenting with a new dance form calledcreative dance,offering the opportunity of free expression with the body as the instrument of interpretation.

Today’s members of Orchesis are studying for a minor in dance at WVU .

Orchesis Dance Ensemble members for 2006 include: Cate Bennett; Chelsea Becker; Caitlin Caskey; Elizabeth Convey; Aislinn Crovak; Tabitha Dolan; Rachel Doran; Laura Gronell; Lauren Hanahan, Megan Hopkin; Chrissy Kochan; Macall Lofstead; Ann-Marie Marnell; Jessica Martin; Jamie Monsell; Jessica Mushrush; Lauren Peretti; Rachel Romero; Kaitlyn Rozich; Sara Shanholtzer; Kate Siegrist; Ashley Smith; Sarah Stevens; Naomi Tauger; Shannon Windisch; and Hannah Wisniewski.

Student choreographers in the Orchesis Dance Ensemble are Cate Bennett, Tabitha Dolan, Laura Gronell, Chrissy Kochan and Jessica Martin.

Advance tickets for WVU Dance Concert 2006 are available at the Mountainlair or CAC Box Offices or by calling (304) 293-SHOW (7469). For more information, contact the Dance Office at (304) 293-8623 or (304) 293-2020, Ext. 3120.