Recent $1 million donor Marcia Belmar Willock ’50 relived her days of modern
dance class at Oswego State during a visit to campus
Marcia Belmar Willock ’50
enjoyed her time spent watching five members of
the campus dance club Del Sarte perform lyrical
ballets and hip-hop moves during her visit on
Nov. 9. Willock stands in a perfect dance pose
surrounded by (from left to right) Del Sarte Treasurer
Kate Wall ’07,
Del Sarte Vice President Sarah
Percival ’08, Del
Sarte Secretary Amy
Bader ’07, Del Sarte
Rapp ’07 and Del
Sarte member Jessica
The 1950 graduate was wide-eyed and full of smiles as
she watched five members of the SUNY Oswego dance club
Del Sarte move their bodies gracefully across the Sheldon
Hall Ballroom stage.
“Lovely splits and lovely extensions,” Willock
complimented the group after they completed their first
lyrical dance. The group performed a variety of dances
including lyrical ballet, modern dance and hip-hop.
Not only has the style of dance changed since Willock
was on stage more than 50 years ago, but the modern
dance class that she helped start with just a dozen
girls has evolved into a college club with 250 members.
“When I was at Oswego we didn’t have a dance
program,” Willock said. That is, until she told
her advisor, while registering for her first semester,
that she wanted to enroll in a dance class. “Every
school in New York City is teaching modern dance,”
Willock told her advisor.
The next year a class was started, and it wasn’t
long before the modern dance style became what Willock
calls her “forte.”
Although Willock shared many of the same passions for
dance as the Del Sarte women, her memories of the program
are very different.
Del Sarte Secretary Amy Bader
’07 informed Willock that the dance class
is now a club, which no longer has an instructor. All
of the dances that the club performs today are student-choreographed.
Technology has changed, too. Watching as the dance group
worked the CD player and hearing the sound system overhead,
Willock said, “I had a wind up machine that I
put one record on at a time and it took care of us.”
Singing and dancing in her chair, Willock shared stories
of dancing in the living room of her boarding house,
where she lived while attending Oswego State.
Willock and her classmates stepped onto the dance floor
at least two or three times a week while traveling to
high schools and grammar schools throughout upstate
New York, performing and practicing their modern dance
talent for a younger crowd.
Willock remembers inviting legendary choreographer and
dancer Martha Graham to Oswego State, where she too
danced on the Sheldon Hall stage. “It was just
marvelous to watch,” Willock said.
Aside from being on stage and learning what later became
her forte on the dance floor, Willock will never forget
those first 12 friends enrolled in the modern dance
class —friends who practiced with her in Mrs.
Tyner’s living room and traveled from school to
school on weekdays to perform and watched with her as
Martha Graham floated across the stage.
“Dancers kind of stick together and it’s
a kind of camaraderie that you don’t break out
of,” Willock said, smiling. “We had a wonderful
time doing it.”
Pleased with the Del Sarte performance and overjoyed
that her once very small dance class request was now
giving hundreds of students an opportunity to learn
and continue having fun in the field of dance, Willock
said, “I think it’s terrific. I think it’s
wonderful that there’s that large of a group to
carry it on.”
“I love dance,” she told the performers.
“There is still room in the world of dance for
all of you.”
— Emily King ’05
To December 2006 E-Newsletter