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GHS grad, ballet director receives Bethel award

Goessel native Katrina Toews has been dedicated to dance from a young age — so much so that she made it part of her Bethel College major, even though the college does not have a dance program.

Toews, winner of Bethel’s 2010 Young Alumnus Award, is a 1998 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and elementary education. She began studying dance at the Newton Dance Center as a child but quit in high school. When she went to Bethel, she picked up entry-level ballet.

“I loved it so much,” Toews said. “I couldn’t stand not to keep taking it, so I decided to see if I could keep studying dance at Wichita State University.”

She developed her fine arts major to incorporate dance and started a dance studio and taught ballet and jazz to help pay her way through college.

Toews went on to a master’s degree program at American University in Washington, D.C. She earned a ballet fellowship and graduated in 2002 with a degree in dance education. While at American, Toews was hired as a teacher at the Washington School of Ballet.

She taught at James Madison University from 2002 to 2004 in Harrisonburg, Va.

In 2004, she returned to the Washington School of Ballet as director of education. In 2005, the ballet inaugurated a satellite campus with Toews as interim director.

In 2006, she was appointed permanent director of The Washington Ballet at the Town Hall Education, Arts & Recreation Campus.

Toews increased enrollment at the campus from 60 to 285, started a healthy initiatives program with a children’s hospital, and received the 2008 Metrodance DC Award for Best Youth Performance.

Toews has also taught at Dane Place and the Davis Center. She founded K2 Dance Company, which has performed at the Kennedy Center’s Millenium Stage, Dance Place, the Jack Guidone Theater, and American University’s Greenberg Theatre. Washington Post critics have described her work as “solidly crafted quality” with choreography that “stands out.”

Toews is a graduate of Goessel High School. Jerry and Leann Toews of Goessel are her parents.

She will lead a group of her students in a dance performance 7:30 p.m. March 28 in Krehbiel Auditorium at Bethel College. She will receive the Young Alumnus Award and speak at 11 a.m. March 29 in Krehbiel Auditorium. Both events are free and open to the public.

The Young Alumnus Award recognizes a Bethel College graduate under age 40 for character and citizenship, achievement or service rendered, honor, and recognition received. Award winners are selected by the Bethel College Alumni Association Awards Committee.

Last modified March 17, 2010

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