In Memoriam: Sara Lee Gibb


NASD joins the dance community in mourning the recent passing of Sara Lee Gibb.

Sara Lee was recently retired from years of distinguished work as teacher, administrator, and dean at Brigham Young University, and as she served the dance field with distinction and consummate grace locally, nationally, and internationally. She held elected office in NASD for twenty-five years, beginning in 1990 as a member of the Committee on Ethics. She went on to chair that committee before moving to the Commission on Accreditation for nine years, the last three of which she served as Chair. She served an additional three years each as Vice President, President, and Chair of the Committee on Nominations. She was also founding President of the National Dance Education Organization and a national leader and spokesperson for dance in many additional respects.

NASD remembers Sara Lee with great respect and deep affection, and joins her family, colleagues, and friends in mourning her loss. She fulfilled her responsibilities with a kind heart and a soft voice. She generated an aura of welcome and inclusion wherever she went. She advanced the cause of dance and fulfilled her responsibilities with wisdom, always in the service of art, learning, and spirit. She saw her field in the glory of its breadth, the fullness of its accomplishments, and the vastness of its great potential; she wanted everyone to see and enjoy these things with her and invited them to do so with pride in the truths each exemplified. She spent her days nurturing dance and the people around her whoever they were, whatever they did, whatever they knew.

During Sara Lee’s NASD presidency from 2009 to 2012, the association worked with issues such as multidisciplinarity, technology and especially multimedia, justification and management challenges in difficult financial times, terminal graduate degrees in dance, relationships between professional studio schools and degree-granting institutions, and management and advocacy issues for administrators. These broad topics provided frameworks for detailed considerations applicable to performance and choreography, research and scholarship, education, and the relationship between the three. She was a master at consensus building, always knowing the point at which consensus was sufficient and complete as a basis for detailed work best left to the creative uniqueness of individuals and institutions.

Many senior institutional representatives to NASD remember that circumstances surrounding the attacks of September 11, 2001 caused cancellation of the association’s annual meeting that year. The morning of the attack, the NASD Commission on Accreditation was already at Snowbird, Utah and soon they were stranded because passenger air service was shut down. Commendably, over the next days, Commission members brought the Commission’s work to completion under the pressures and tensions of those days. Sara Lee, a member of the Commission at that time and a Utahan, poured out her spirit and her resources to support the welfare of Commission members shaken, and temporarily captive to events beyond anyone’s control. Her actions reminded all who knew them of the healing powers of sensitivity, generosity, and faith, not just in general, but also Sara Lee’s in particular. It is just such examples that teach and inspire and radiate perpetual spiritual energies that underlie the greatest work in various aspects of dance and the other arts. The effects of Sara Lee’s work continue on. NASD joins many others in deep appreciation for the privilege of being near such a constant and powerful source of beauty, dedication, and goodness to all.