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2009 Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award: Suzette Boyer Webb

Suzette Boyer Webb has brought her lifelong love of dance to the students in CCM.

Date: 5/21/2009 12:00:00 AM
By: Katie Syroney
Phone: (513) 556-9484
Photos By: Dottie Stover

UC ingot   When she was eight years old, Suzette Boyer Webb, adjunct instructor at the College-Conservatory of Music, knew she wanted to dance. By the age of 13, she knew she wanted to make a life of it. Years later, she devotes her career to passing her passion on to her students at CCM.

“Ms. Webb has a stellar track record in teaching with excellence, passion and clarity of purpose—that of training dance majors to become professional dancers in the dance world,” said Douglas Knehans, dean of CCM.
Suzette Boyer Webb
Suzette Boyer Webb

Teaching ballet isn’t just a job for Boyer Webb, but a manifestation of her commitment to furthering the art form from which she has derived so much joy.

“I try to get the students to tap into why they fell in love with dance in the first place,” said Boyer Webb. “Ballet is a performing art, and performing arts are about communicating to an audience. Whether they are portraying a character or interpreting music, the students need to communicate artistically and emotionally.”

Boyer Webb grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York, where she was only an hour away from the two main ballet schools of the time: the School of American Ballet (affiliated with New York City Ballet) and the American Ballet Theater School. She studied at both before continuing on to Cincinnati, where she joined Cincinnati Ballet. There, she attained the level of principal dancer, retiring after a 10-year career.

During her time in the professional performing arts world, Boyer Webb cultivated a vast wealth of knowledge about ballet technique and training, which she has seamlessly carried over to her career as a teacher.

For the past 20 years, Boyer Webb has been an adjunct professor at CCM, teaching dance to majors, non-majors and students in CCM’s Preparatory program. And over the past two years, the demand for her particular skill set has meant that she’s been teaching on an almost full-time basis.

“Ms. Webb‘s adjunct status does not fully do justice to her ongoing contributions to our students,” said Michael Tevlin, CCM associate professor of dance.

Stepping in whenever CCM needs her is just one of Boyer Webb’s considerable contributions to the college.

“Over the last four years, three of our full-time professors took academic leave at different times,” said Associate Professor of Dance Jiang Qi. “Suzette was able to step in every time and taught a full load of classes.”
Suzette Boyer Webb

This is par for the course for this highly dedicated teacher, who makes a habit of exceeding expectations—from assuming choreographing duties in the place of an ailing guest artist to finding costumes for student dancers.

According to Boyer Webb, she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I feel really fortunate to be where I am to teach at the university,” she said. “I am as excited to walk into Patricia Corbett Theater to teach as I was 20 years ago. I think university students are exciting to work with because they are open and want to learn so much. It is energizing for me.”

Within her current role, Boyer Webb revels in the ability to spend significant one-on-one time with her students. This level of personal interaction with each young dancer is one of her favorite parts of teaching. And her students are quick to reflect that enthusiasm back toward their mentor.

“Her classes are very well received and a favorite by the students at all levels,” said Jiang. “She has often been asked to adjudicate the students’ final examinations. She takes it very seriously and is thoughtful. Her advice to the students is right on the mark.”

As a mother of three children, Boyer Webb keeps busy outside of CCM by volunteering at her children’s school and taking them to sports practices. But her life as a teacher never stops. She channels her experiences outside of CCM toward finding new ways to influence learning in the dance studio.

“There’s always a new way to work on the technique of performing,” she said. “If I learn something through sports, reading or art, I can use it as a tool to communicate technique and artistry to the students.”

Boyer Webb is most gratified when she sees that her students are embracing the art form with as much passion and joy as she has carried throughout her career.

“Their energy and excitement is what it is all about,” said Boyer Webb. “They inspire me to be a better teacher.”