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The ‘Mary Kathryne Wiedebusch Experiential Student Dance Fund’

Two dancers perform on stage during the Dance Now concert

In the spring of 1973, Mountaineer Field was downtown, as was the swimming pool in the old Mountainlair at the bottom of Stadium Drive. The College of Creative Arts was in its infancy, and Marcia Broughton was rigorously preparing to perform for the first time at Elizabeth Moore Hall.

“I’d danced all my formative years and loved it. It was always my creative outlet,” she said.

Orchesis was the origin of West Virginia University’s current dance program. Though there was no degree, the student organization operated as its own educational body. It gave its members an escape from rigorous coursework and provided a home away from home.

“I majored in accounting and then went to law school, so dance was my salvation... I really seriously considered transferring, but Mrs. Wiedebusch and Orchesis kept me here.”

For the dancers who joined the organization, creativity was key.

“You didn’t necessarily need to be a great dancer, but you needed to be a good or interesting dancer. For Mrs. Wiedebusch, dance was her passion.”

Mary Kathryne “Kacy” Wiedebusch led the Orchesis group at WVU. She joined the School of Physical Education as a dance professor in 1955 and remained at the university for 50 years. Wiedebusch helped establish the School of Theatre and Dance and was affectionately known as WVU’s “First Lady of Dance.”

For Broughton, she was a source of comfort during stressful times as Wiedebusch always had a smile and was optimistic.

“I know for a fact that those were not always easy times for her, but you never knew that. She was so positive and so forward-looking that it made your day to be with her.”

After graduation, Broughton kept in touch with Wiedebusch.

“She was an incredible person, and although I knew her for many, many years after college, she was always ‘Mrs. Wiedebusch.’ I would never think to call her Kacy.”

Wiedebusch had an unrelenting passion for dance, which she passed along to her students. They often learned through doing, selecting new Orchesis members and creating their dances through collaborative choreography.

“She was Elizabeth Moore Hall. It seemed that she was here almost all of the time. I don’t know how she did it. She had a family. She was well connected to the Morgantown community, but she was always at E. Moore Hall when we needed to be here. And she was here before we were here and after we were here. She was an amazing person. She really was.”

Now an accomplished tax attorney, member of the College of Business and Economics Roll of Distinguished Alumni, and a member of the WVU Foundation Board of Directors, Broughton wanted to give back to her dancing roots and the professor who positively impacted so many students. She recently made a $50,000 gift to support the dance program she named the 'Mary Kathryne Wiedebusch Experiential Student Dance Fund.'

"I have always enjoyed dance as a student, dancer and observer. Movement and rhythm inspire me. I especially wanted to honor Mrs. Wiedebusch, as she worked so diligently to provide dance at WVU when very few others cared. Mrs. Wiedebusch always brightened your day. She challenged you to dance better and to be a better person.”

Broughton still tap dances today and hopes her gift will inspire the next generation of dancers, just as her friend and mentor did.

“I hope it will expose students to different forms of dance and teachers though master classes both in Morgantown and in other places.”

To learn more about the dance program, visit https://dance.wvu.edu/.