SAN ANGELO, Texas — Susan Templeton Kinney has long been an important part of the San Angelo Civic Ballet history. Her support has ranged from the parent body to the board presidency seat. She is a great arts advocate and a treasure to all of San Angelo.
I remember the first time I met Susan. She was the one who brought me to San Angelo to interview for the Ballet's directorship. The morning of my evaluation class, she picked me up at the Hampton Inn in her blue minivan and zipped us to downtown San Angelo. She was soft-spoken and extremely considerate.
Being fresh out of Austin, I didn't know what to make of downtown San Angelo or the tiny two-room studio we pulled up to. But I did know that if a woman like Susan Kinney, for whom I had already established a firm admiration, could love San Angelo so much, why couldn't I at least give it a chance? So I did.
I have been in San Angelo for eight years working as artistic director of the Ballet. Susan has been alongside me all the while. Her competence, patience, kindness, fairness and support have changed my path as a professional and a young woman. She taught me how to write my first grant. She opened my eyes to the potential of the Ballet. She believed in me in those first years when I had no experience. She is a woman we could all aspire to be more like.
All of this history and hard work leads up to the day that Susan completed her final term as the San Angelo Civic Ballet Board president. I was far away visiting a friend in London during her final board meeting, but I remember vividly pausing at the time of the meeting in my friend's tiny flat just after dinner to reflect on the countless gifts Susan had bestowed upon the Ballet.
When someone that instrumental to an organization completes a term, it is hard to know what gesture might adequately show thanks. I am not convinced there will ever be one grand enough for the past board presidents of the Ballet, but nonetheless the board established the Susan Templeton Kinney Scholarship in her honor. It wasn't a ceremonial or extravagant acknowledgment of her work, but it was a perfect demonstration of the person she is and the work she believes in. In that way, I believe it was indeed the most perfect way to say thank you.
The STK Scholarship is a monetary award given to one of our highest-level dancers each year to assist them with expenses for summer training. Most of you know that our dancers spend their summers at prestigious ballet schools in New York, Boston, Seattle, Chicago, Miami and San Francisco. Students are submitted to these schools through audition only. It is a great honor to be chosen to study with them over the summer, but the programs can cost upwards of $5,000.
That expense can certainly be a burden. I know it was for my family during my years of training. So the dancers have an opportunity to thoughtfully and articulately answer three simple questions to be considered for the award. They are: "What do you love about ballet?" "What do you aspire to do with your dance skills?" and "How would you use this award? Please be specific."
The applications are edited to be anonymous, and a panel of judges reads each application and scores them. The dancers have some of the most beautiful answers. Susan and I look forward to combing through the results every year before she presents the award. It is inspiring reading, and it's wonderful to see how the judges highlight different aspects of each application.
Every year we have been fortunate to have a clear winner. Past recipients of the STK scholarship include Madison Webber, Angelica Ybarra and Riley Monk. Those students used the money to study at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet in Carlisle, Pa., and the Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle, Wash.
This year the award goes to Kelsey Minzenmayer. Kelsey is a 15-year-old pre-professional-level dancer at SACB with a very bright future. She would like to use the money to attend either the School of American Ballet in New York City or Boston Ballet this summer.
I would like to offer my congratulations not only to Kelsey, but also to Susan, whose good work will continue to blossom in our studio walls and community for many years to come.
If you're interested in donating to the Susan Templeton Kinney Scholarship Fund, please contact the Ballet at 325-653-8877 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meghann Bridgeman is artistic director of the San Angelo Civic Ballet. Contact her at email@example.com or 325-653-8877.
Reprinted from Standard-Times - Read Article Here