2017 SPECIAL HONOREE
This year, for our 57th Annual Awards program, we are pleased to present a special tribute to Kathryn Karipides, whose lifelong commitment to dance has launched the careers of exceptional dancers all over the country.
“I was in the middle of running our dance company, and to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t even quite sure what the Cleveland Arts Prize was,” Kathryn recalls with a laugh about winning her Cleveland Arts Prize in 1974. “But it was such a wonderful surprise for me. I was really ecstatic.”
Afterwards, she began to follow the organization closely, and in the early ‘90s, she was asked to join its board, where she served as the chair of the Dance Prize Committee. In 2005, the Cleveland Arts Prize established the Kathryn Karipides Scholarship in Modern Dance. “That was certainly a wonderful thing, because it assists students doing graduate work in dance,” she says, adding that the scholarship has since become part of the Case Western Reserve University award system.
Kathryn was barely 21 when she joined the physical education faculty of Cleveland's Flora Stone Mather College for Women, a division of Western Reserve University, in 1956, with a degree in physical education from Miami University of Ohio. While fulfilling the requirements for a master's degree from WRU, she spent the next three summers at Connecticut College, then the mecca of dance. There she studied intensively with some of the greatest modern dance artists of the time: the legendary Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Lucas Hoving, José Limón, and Louis Horst.
In 1969, she and colleague Henry Kurth, a highly acclaimed professor of scene and lighting design in WRU's theater department, formed the Dance Theater of Kathryn Karipides and Henry Kurth. She retired from Case Western Reserve University in 1998, as Samuel B. and Virginia C. Knight Professor Emerita of Humanities, after a teaching career spanning 42 years and several generations of young dancers. She’s proud of her commitment to women’s advocacy, too.
“When I was on the faculty at the university, I headed up a committee for the faculty senate on the status of women faculty at the university,” she boasts. “For me, that was equally as important as making dances.”
Since retirement, Kathryn has continued her advocacy of dance locally, regionally and nationally, serving on many committees and boards. Her many awards and honors include CWRU's Carl F. Wittke Award for outstanding undergraduate teaching, the OhioDance Award for a significant contribution to dance in Ohio, the YWCA Career Women of Achievement Award for Cultural Arts, and the Dionysian Award by the Cleveland Chapter of the Order of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) for a lifetime of outstanding contribution to the arts.
Tonight, we honor Kathryn with a video about her life and her innovative and inspiring contributions to dance. Her video is part of a new series we are filming so that we can link the artists’ biographies on the Cleveland Arts Prize website to a short film that will give viewers an opportunity to see the prize winners talking about their work, their mentors and inspirations, their lives in Cleveland, winning the Arts Prize, and more.
Soon, there will be more than 50 videos available on our website. Once finished, this project will provide the most comprehensive history of the arts in Cleveland from 1960 to the present – an invaluable research tool and a living testament to Cleveland Arts Prize winners.
Congratulations, Kathryn Karipides!