Betty Toman

Honored by:Anonymous; Her former dance students
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Honored by: Anonymous

In honor of Betty Toman-Distinguished Professor, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, 1948-1988.

Betty Toman's distinguished career in dance has brought her skills into the lives of many people. Not only is she a dancer, performer, choreographer, speaker, director and friend, but she carried some of her activities into retirement that influenced some older people in Ames, Iowa. One group she taught and encouraged are the Betty Toman Octagon Tappers. This group formed when older tappers were in the production, "Follies" at Iowa State University Fisher Theater, June 1990. Betty so inspired the 14 older dancers that they continued to delight themselves, and the community with dance. The group appreciates Betty's expertise, and piano accompanist, Evelyn Jensen's talents, as they pursue this exercise into their senior years.

The Octagon Betty Toman Tappers, June 1994.

Mary Montgomery Anderson, Elaine (Vifquain) Bath, Martha Benson, Marilyn Curry, Meridee Hegstrom, Arlene Jetting, Carol Johnson, Sheila Kindred, Barb Mosier, Jan Rathke, Nancy Stevenson, Howard Theil, Marilou Ukena and Esther Wilham.

Submitted on 7/1/96

Honored by: Her former dance students


This is the lady who taught us to dance,
Who taught us to plie and triplet and prance.
This is the lady we love in the end.
She's the lady who taught us to dance.

This is the lady who taught us to fly,
To swing down and up 'til we thought we would die.
This is the lady we'll never forget.
She's the lady who taught us to dance.

She showed us the modern, the ballet, the jazz,
Add once in a while a tap.
She made us project and perform with pizzazz
And convinced us it all was a snap.

This is the lady who taught us to dance,
In leotards, leg warmers, and rip-stop pants.
This is the lady slave driver sans whip.
She's the lady who taught us to dance.

-Evelyn O. Jensen

Betty Toman, Distinguished Professor of Education and Dance Coordinator, shared her love of dance with thousands of Iowa State students and thousands more in the United States and abroad during her forty-year teaching career. Known for the enthusiasm and energy she brings to all teaching situations, Betty was honored with Iowa State's highest awards for outstanding teaching. Her profession, too, presented her with a variety of recognitions for her leadership, inspiration, and artistic achievements.

The Toman approach to dance as physical education's art form has worldwide devotees. Especially notable among a long list of workshops, performances, speeches and papers are her leadership in the International Humanistic Physical Education Exchange Program in Denmark and the Iowa Yucatan Partners of the Americas Sports-Physical Education Exchange Program in Mexico. But those who know Betty well realize her greatest reward came in the classroom, where she had an incredible impact upon and camaraderie with beginning modem dance students. Her special genius is bringing out the dance spirit that lies within us all.

Betty was also a pioneer in taking modem dance to Midwestern audiences. The ISU Dance Tour Company was created in 1969 and in the more than 20 years that followed Betty and her students crisscrossed Iowa and visited surrounding states to perform lecture-demonstrations in auditoriums, libraries, gyms, parks, school classrooms, and concert halls.

Today, Betty's former students can be found around the world. (Betty is quick to point out that dance is a universal language). These students are professional performers on the stages of Europe and the United States. They are university, school and studio teachers themselves, committed to continuing the Toman legacy. But greatest in number, Betty's students are the business men and women, the scientists and engineers, the writers and artists, the doctors, journalists, farmers, and social workers whose appreciation of modern dance (and, therefore, life) is keener for having studied with her.

This is what they had to say in letters to her on the occasion of her retirement from teaching in 1988.

Betty, you have a way of making people believe in themselves. You can lead anyone into the world of dance and send him or her away with a new understanding of dance, of the arts, of the world around, of self. - Phyllis Lepke

I remember getting encouragement. It seemed so hard, but I was rarely discouraged. We were too busy it to think about our limitations! Betty if you had taught me only "steps " and "tricks " it wouldn't have been the same. It was that spirit of openness and an emphasis on the creative process that gave me such good priming for a professional pursuit. - Robert Wechsler

I have such heartwarming memories, of "easy knees "; of your outrageous improvisations that stretched our imagination and flexibility; of the hard work and laughter that resulted in great works of dance and lasting friendships. - Mary Jane Grube

The one quality of a teacher that is immeasurable but most important is the ability to accept students as they are with no qualifications. You have an innate ability to do this. The result is giving the student what no book or other teaching tool can produce - a student with an improved self concept. - Gini Kaster Ennis

You molded my mind and my outlook on life as much as any one of my high technology professors probably even more. - Mark Anderson

You really were using dance to help us learn the basic qualities of life. - Michael Fergusen

Your philosophy was so beautifully interwoven in our curriculum at Iowa State. I feel we were taught not only what to teach but more importantly how and why. - Abby Fiat

You nurtured the shallow, quiet, forgotten voice inside each of us. Then you sent us on our way. - Marcia McGinnis McCaffrey

I don't think there is a day that goes by that I don't use the things you have taught me. Dance styles and materials change, but you gave me a philosophy of dance that I have honestly tried to follow. It has served me well. - Nancy Moses

The answer to all problems may not be "easy kneesā€ but it's a good place to start. - Steve Pier

She who sows love and caring, reaps love and caring. - Sally Fitt

Submitted on 4/20/95