Professor of Dance June Vail to Receive 2010 Alumni Award for Faculty and Staff

Story posted April 16, 2010

June Adler Vail — scholar, performer, choreographer and professor of dance — taught the first classes in dance ever offered at the College in 1971, and over the years single-handedly established dance as a vital component of the curriculum.

June Vail200.jpg
June Vail

For her enthusiastic and ongoing dedication, the Alumni Council has chosen Vail to receive the 2010 Alumni Award for Faculty and Staff, presented each year for service and devotion to Bowdoin, recognizing that the College in a larger sense includes both students and alumni.

Through an integrated program of dance techniques, repertory and performance, history and criticism, and a keen appreciation of the cultural contexts in which dance is performed, Vail strengthened liberal arts education immeasurably for generations of Bowdoin students.

"My great joy, personally, is that as professor of dance I've been able to integrate my commitment to writing about dance — as a critic and author — with my love for working in the studio with talented, adventurous students," says Vail.

"I reflect with pride that the dance program has expanded Bowdoin's liberal arts curriculum and enriched campus life through innovative courses and spirited performances."

An English and French major at Connecticut College, Vail began her teaching career in 1966 as a lecturer in French at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, followed by positions in the public schools of Cleveland, Ohio; New Haven, Conn., and Brunswick.

Vail's early training in Russian ballet and modern dance at Connecticut College, in Paris, and New Haven led to a master of arts degree in dance and culture from Wesleyan University and to an outstanding academic and performing career in dance.

Faced with limited facilities and the absence of an existing tradition for dance at Bowdoin, Vail relied on ingenuity and resourcefulness to overcome these challenges.

Seeking unexpected venues for dance performances on campus, she encouraged student dance clubs in diverse dance genres, and her collaborations with colleagues created the Bates-Bowdoin-Colby Dance Alliance, which brought world-class dance ensembles to the College.

For 37 years, Vail choreographed fall and spring dance concerts at Pickard Theater and "Museum Pieces" at the Museum of Art.

Through articles and reviews she wrote in scholarly journals, newspapers and magazines, and in Kulturella Koreografier (Cultural Choreographies), her book on dance in Sweden, Vail continues to reach a wide audience with her insights.

Vail is married to Adams-Catlin Professor of Economics David Vail. They have two sons.

The Alumni Award for Faculty and Staff will be presented Saturday, June 5, 2010, during Reunion Convocation.

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