Special needs dance educator Ann Kathleen Shea passed away on October 10 at the age of 67, after a long struggle with Parkinson’s Disease. One of Shea’s many recognitions for her tireless advocacy for dance education in public schools was the 2009 Dance Teacher K–12 national award.
A lifelong dance educator, Shea knew her calling from the very first time she took dance class at the age of 7. “From the first minute of my first summer dance class,” she said, “I knew that I wanted to be a dance teacher—it was that immediate.”
Shea founded and directed the Orange Grove Dancers, a dance troupe for adults and children with developmental disabilities, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She also choreographed more than 50 pieces for organizations including the Chattanooga Ballet and Dance Theater Workshop, as well as several local high school dance programs.
She devoted herself to bringing dance to K–12 students—especially those in inner-city schools—by instituting grant-funded workshops and dance literacy outreach projects. “I like sharing with anyone who wants to learn about dance,” she said. “I want dance education to be accessible, viable and visible.”