What a Feeling: Wynee Warden Dance Studio Dedicated

Nov 17, 2014

by Cary McMullen | Publications editor
With relevés, jetés, and flying feet, the College dedicated the spectacular home of its new dance program on Nov. 6, further expanding FSC’s reach in the fine arts. The Wynee Warden Dance Studio was formally opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that included hundreds of local dignitaries and patrons of the arts.

The studio is named for Mrs. Winifred “Wynee” Warden of Orlando, a philanthropist and benefactor of Florida Southern, who gave the lead gift. Mrs. Warden has supported several important projects on campus, including the new Wynee Warden Tennis Center; the renovation of the College student cafeteria, Wynee’s Bistro; and Tutu’s Cyber Café at the Roux Library. Her family’s charity, the Bert W. Martin Foundation, also contributed to the studio.

“I've had the privilege of being friends with Wynee for many years and she loves students and she loves dance, so this is a perfect partnership and wonderful opportunity for her to express that at our beloved college,” said President Anne Kerr. “I have said for many years we have one of the best music departments in the nation and certainly one of the best theater departments. Now with the addition of dance, we will have one of the best musical theater and ballet programs. So we have an ambitious agenda ahead of us and we look forward to it.”

The College’s new dance program began in August under the direction of Assistant Professor of Dance Erin LaSala.

In her remarks at the ceremony, Mrs. Warden noted that she used to be a dancer and expressed the hope the studio would help create a new generation of dancers.

“It gives me great pleasure to be able to give a school like this an opportunity for all their students to be able to take dance lessons, enjoy dancing, and I don’t know what else I can say,” she said. “I’m just really, really happy about what’s going on here.”

Designed by Mike Murphey of the Lakeland firm of Wallis Murphey Boyington Architects, Inc., the 4,700-square-foot studio features a high glass half-rotunda facing toward Lake Hollingsworth that allows natural light to illuminate the dance floor. It also includes a faculty office and dressing rooms.

The studio also includes a new Steinway grand piano made possible from gifts from the Glenn W. and Hazelle Paxon Morrison Foundation, the Votum Foundation, and the Nona J. Rawls and H. Taylor Jones Foundation.

Offering a prayer of dedication during the ceremony, Bishop-in-Residence Robert Fannin ’58 asked God “to join your spirit with ours as we celebrate this beautiful building and its ministry of dance. Our vision reveals in the future students passing through these doors practicing and practicing and practicing until their bodies move in tune with the music and the two become one.”

To celebrate the opening of the studio, Florida Dance Theatre performed “An Evening of Classical Ballet” in Branscomb Auditorium, which included dances from Swan Lake, Don Quixote, and Cinderella. The performance also featured international ballet stars Katia Garza and Israel Rodriguez, who were principal dancers for many years for the Orlando Ballet and for the Ballet de Monterrey in Mexico. The husband-and-wife duo performed the thrilling grand pas de deux from Le Corsaire by Adolphe Adam.