Skip to content
print page header

The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Marcia Thayer papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1927-2000
Creator: Thayer, Marcia (1936-1982)
Extent: 2.50 linear feet.
Collection Number: IWA0689
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Dancer, choreographer and educator who worked in Iowa, Massachussetts, Oregon and New York.

Alternate Extent Statement: 1 videocassette [V282]
1 film [F4]
Artifacts in Box 6
Photographs in boxes 3-6, 8 and map case

Access: The papers are open for research.

Use: Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to The University of Iowa.

Acquisition: The papers (donor no. 719) were donated by Alicia Brown-Matthes in 2000.

Preferred Citation: Marcia Thayer papers, Iowa Women's Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Address: 100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5068
Curator: Kären Mason
Email: lib-women@uiowa.edu
Website: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/iwa

Dancer, choreographer, musician, and educator Marcia Claire Belsher Thayer was born in 1936. In her youth Thayer appeared as a lead dancer and actress for the Magic Ring Theatre in Portland, Oregon and also played the viola and violin for a number of operatic, symphonic and theater productions. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree inDance and English from Mills College in 1956 and continued her graduate work at the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa). Thayer completed a master's degree in Speech and Dramatic Art in 1960and fulfilled the course requirements and comprehensive examination towards a Ph.D. in the same field.

Upon arriving in Iowa, Thayer performed in University Theater productions as a dancer, actress and later a choreographer. She taught classes in movement for actors and reviewed dance concerts for the Iowa City Press-Citizen. As head of the Dance Program in the Department of Physical Education for Women at the University of Iowa (1962-1974), Thayer expanded the dance curriculum and developed a program for dance majors. She also began the process of inviting professional dance groups to perform in Iowa City, and initiated the Midwestern Dance Symposium for teachers and students. Thayer also advanced performance opportunities for student choreographers and performers through yearly productions of the University of Iowa Dance Theatre that featured the "Young Choreographer's Concert," "Discovery," and "Vivachi!"

Thayer's creative work included plays, musicals, operas, and dances. She acted, danced, choreographed, and directed numerous productions in Iowa, Massachusetts, Oregon, and New York. Tragically, Thayer's dancing career was ended by a back injury suffered during a dance production. Unable to dance, Thayer shifted her passion to the study of Ireland. Thayer died in Ireland after completing a course in Irish literature during the summer of 1982.

The Marcia Thayer papers date from 1927 to 2000 and measure 2.5 linear feet. The papers are arranged in eleven series: Biographical information, Dance companies, Dance productions, Paul Engle poetry, Teaching responsibilities, University of Iowa Department of Dance, Newspaper Clippings, Photographs, Audiovisual, Artifacts, and Education.

The Biographical Information series contains Thayer's resume and eulogy. Thayer's efforts to invite professional dancers and their companies to present and teach in the Department of Dance are represented in the Dance Companies series (1962-1996), which consists of publicity brochures and correspondence.

The Dance Productions series (1936-1992) consists of news releases, programs, correspondence, and production records. Included are Dance Gala posters, Orchesis modern dance club programs dating from the early 1930s, publicity and club reports, and budget and membership records. Midwestern Dance Symposium programs and correspondence dealing with artist searches complete this series.

The Paul Engle Poetry series is comprised of poetry exchanged between Thayer and Paul Engle. Engle was a professor of English and director of the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa.

The Teaching Responsibilities series (1964-1971) contains student papers and classroom handouts. Included are records of the Saturday School of the Dance taught by Thayer.

The University of Iowa Department of Dance series (1964-2000) is comprised of departmental publications pertaining to the curriculum, application forms, and undergraduate and graduate dance programs. Blue prints of a proposed conversion of the mirror room to a dance theatre complete the series.

The Newspaper Clippings series (1955-1985) is comprised of a collection of review and general interest articles, photographs and a scrapbook containing newspaper clippings from 1964 to1985.

The Photographs series (1927-1986) consists of photographs of dance productions at the University of Iowa, professional dance companies, dance classes, and portraits. Marcia Thayer is depicted in many of the photographs throughout the series. Photographs of classes and activities offered by the Department of Physical Education for Women between 1927 and 1939 depict social dancing, synchronized swimming, and a dance production. Annual Dance Theatre productions are documented in photographs and negatives.

The Audiovisual series consists of a film of eleven dances recorded at the Communications Center. The 20-minute film consists of solo and duet performances by Marcia Thayer and Lar Lubovitch, and solo and group productions by unidentified dancers. A videotape of the film is available for viewing.

A 1982 Dance Gala and "An American in Iowa" button comprise the Artifacts series(1982-1983).
The University of Iowa Department of Physical Education for Women records (IWA).

Browse by Series:
Series 1: BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION
Series 2: DANCE COMPANIES
Series 3: DANCE PRODUCTIONS
Series 4: PAUL ENGLE POETRY
Series 5: TEACHING RESPONSIBILITIES
Series 6: UNIVERSITY OF IOWA DEPARTMENT OF DANCE
Series 7: NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS
Series 8: PHOTOGRAPHS
Series 9: AUDIOVISUAL
Series 10: ARTIFACTS
Series 11: EDUCATION

  • Series 1: BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION
  • Box 1:
  • Resume and eulogy
  • Box 16:
  • Correspondence - 1970-1979
  • Eulogy and obituary - 1982
  • Cards, most from Marcia to David, undated
  • Programs from Dublin, undated and - 1967
  • Miscellaneous, undated and - 1985, 2004-2005, 2013
  • Series 2: DANCE COMPANIES
  • Box 1:
  • Jose Limon and Dance Company - 1962
  • Erick Hawkins - 1963
  • Edna Dieman and Julia Bennett - 1965
  • Paul Taylor Dance Company - 1965
  • Lucas Hoving and Co. - 1966
  • Helen McGehee - 1967
  • Dancers in Company - 1996
  • Miscellaneous
  • Series 3: DANCE PRODUCTIONS
  • Box 1:
  • Costume Fittings
  • Dance Club - 1963
  • Midwestern Dance Symposium: Artist Search Correspondence
  • Midwestern Dance Symposium: Program
  • News Releases - 1953-1958, 1963
  • Orchesis: Budget and Membership
  • Orchesis: Club Reports - 1936-1956
  • Orchesis: Miscellaneous
  • Box 2:
  • Orchesis: Nationwide Programs
  • Orchesis: Programs
  • Orchesis: Publicity Reports - 1954-1955
  • Dance Theater programs - 1962-1973
  • Hancher programs - 1976-1988
  • Hancher programs - 1990-1998
  • Iowa Arts Council Touring Roster - 1995-1996
  • Professional
  • Rave - 1987
  • State University of Iowa - 1961-1964
  • Various Universities
  • Ticket Sales - 1963-1972
  • Box 8:
  • Dance Gala Posters - 1980-1992
  • Box 12:
  • Performance and conference programs - 1955-1966, 1991
  • Performance programs, undated and - 1958, 1963
  • Dance Club and "Discovery" series: programs, production notes - 1961-1973
  • "Vivachi" (annual production) programs - 1963-1974
  • "Young Choreographers Concert" (annual production) programs, undated and - 1964-1967
  • Dance and arts programs - 1966-1972, 1979-1983
  • Programs/reviews featuring Thayer's friends and collaborators - 1978-1986, 2000-2003, 2013
  • Lists of performances and dances, undated
  • "Renaissance in Retrospect" choreography and production notes, ca. - 1958
  • Renaissance Concert choreography - 1963
  • Box 13:
  • "The Boy Friend" choreography, production notes, and script, undated
  • "Santa Claus" lyrics, music, and production notes, undated
  • "Armadis" (Lully) choreography and script, undated
  • "Armadis" (Lully) research from New York Public Library - 1964
  • "Tempest" choreography and notes, undated
  • "$4000" playscript with notes, choreography, undated
  • "Fa├žade" poetry and accompanying choreography, undated
  • "Eve of St. Agness" choreography, undated
  • Paul Engle poetry with accompanying choreography, undated
  • Miscellaneous choreography, summer - 1967
  • Miscellaneous choreography, some with music/title, undated
  • Unidentified choreography (6 folders), undated
  • Unidentified choreography and production budget, undated
  • Miscellaneous notes, undated
  • Two scripts, undated
  • Series 4: PAUL ENGLE POETRY
  • Box 2:
  • Paul Engle poetry
  • Box 13:
  • Poems (many dedicated to friends and family), undated and - 1973-1982
  • Letters, poems, and art from Judith Sutcliffe, undated and - 1966-1969
  • Typed and photocopied poems, undated
    note: check for overlap with paul engle material, I think these may include duplicates from those folders
  • Typed poems with comments/edits, undated
  • Box 14:
  • Collected poem drafts with edits, undated
  • Typed prose drafts with handwritten comments, undated
  • Typed poems and prose, undated
  • Essay on Gautier, undated
  • "Discouragement Corner": college poetry, prose, and memorabilia, undated
  • Notebook of poem lists and drafts - 1981-1982
  • Poem drafts (possibly from college), undated
  • Notebook of poems and prose, undated
  • Notebooks of poems and prose drafts, undated
  • Miscellaneous poem drafts, undated
  • Box 15:
  • Publication correspondence and poem drafts, undated
  • Notes on history of poetry, undated
  • Series 5: TEACHING RESPONSIBILITIES
  • Box 2:
  • Dance Production Handouts - 1966-1967
  • The Saturday School of the Dance - 1967
  • Student Papers - 1964-1971
  • Box 15:
  • Class handout and conference paper - 1965, 1971
  • Series 6: UNIVERSITY OF IOWA DEPARTMENT OF DANCE
  • Box 3:
  • Application Forms
  • Application Forms - 1992
  • Application Forms - 1994
  • Application Forms - 1995
  • Application Forms - 1996
  • Application forms: Undated
  • Curriculum Correspondence - 1964
  • Dance Program Publications - 1991, 1993, 2000
  • Graduate Program
  • Proposed Mirror Room Conversion into a Dance Theatre [Blueprints in map case]
  • Box 16:
  • America Dancing - 1966, 1968
  • Series 7: NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS
  • Box 3:
  • Dance Theater - 1968-1969
  • Orchesis - 1955, 1959
  • Box 7:
  • Scrapbook - 1964-1965
  • Box 15:
  • Spectator and Daily Iowan newspaper clippings - 1963-1982
  • Compiled newspaper clippings - 1955-1968, 1982
  • Iowa Staff Magazine - 1965-1966
    dups
  • Lars Lubovitch article and loose photos, undated and - 2011
  • Dance and general interest - 1956-1980
    sort for duplicates
  • Series 8: PHOTOGRAPHS
  • Box 3:
  • Childrens Dance Classes
  • Court Dances
  • Dance Classes - 1964
  • Dance Concert - 1966
  • Dance Concert - 1968
  • Dance Gala - 1982
  • The Dance in Iowa
  • Dance Theater Christmas Show - 1967
  • Dance Theater - 1975
  • Davenport Childrens Concert - 1962
  • Department of Physical Education for Women - 1927-1939
  • Discovery - 1965
  • Box 4:
  • Discovery (2 folders) - 1966-1967
  • Discovery (5 folders) - 1969-1974
  • Dom Franco - 1978
  • Juggler of Notre Dame - 1967
  • Lar Lubovitch and Marcia Thayer Duet
  • Marcia Thayer, undated (3 folders) [Note: duplicates of some of the photographs in folder 3 are located in Box 8]
  • Master Classes
  • Miscellaneous - 1962
  • Miscellaneous - 1967
  • Miscellaneous - 1973-1986
  • Box 5:
  • Modern Dance Group in the Museum of Art
  • Negatives, undated
  • Paul Taylor Dance Company - 1965
  • Professional Dance Photos
  • Renaissance Concert - 1969
  • Renaissance Concert: Merchant of Venice - 1969
  • Summer Dance Concert - 1967
  • Summer Dance Concert - 1969
  • Theater
  • Thesis Concert - 1967
  • 29 Titles - 1974
  • Vivachi [Note: One photograph is located in Box 8] - 1964
  • Vivachi - 1965
  • Vivachi - 1967-1968
  • Box 6:
  • Vivachi (6 folders) - 1969-1974
  • Young Peoples Dance Concert - 1967
  • Box 8:
  • Photographs, undated
  • Box 15:
  • Performance photos and proofs (multiple events), undated and - 1963-1964, 1978
  • "Court Dances," undated and - 1963-1965, 1975
  • Performance photos, summer - 1967
  • Master classes, undated
  • Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Circus, Renaissance Concert, undated and - 1958, 1969
  • Series 9: AUDIOVISUAL
  • Box 6:
  • Videocassette V282 and Film F4: Marcia Thayer Dance Ensembles
  • Series 10: ARTIFACTS
  • Box 6:
  • Buttons - 1982-1983
  • Series 11: EDUCATION
  • Box 9:
  • Undergraduate "History of Dance" outline - 1954
  • Undergraduate Drama notes (Lauterer) - 1955-1956
  • Undergraduate essay drafts, course documents, undated and - 1956
  • Undergraduate play, "The Land of Green Ginger," adapted by Belsher, undated
  • Graduate course notes, undated and - 1956, 1961
  • Graduate essays (bound) with instructor comments - 1960, 1962
  • Graduate essays and original plays, undated and - 1961
  • Graduate labanotation workbook - 1962
  • Graduate "Class dynamics" worksheets - 1963
  • Graduate course notes, undated
  • Box 10:
  • Graduate booklet and course materials - 1949, 1963, 1966-1967
  • Graduate essays for Classical Rhetoric - 1960
  • Graduate notes and book list for Classical Rhetoric - 1960
  • Graduate notes, undated and - 1963
  • Graduate notebook, undated
  • Graduate course grades (handwritten) and doctoral program materials, undated
  • Graduate notebook for Dance Theory I, undated
  • Notes for Dance 137 (Lauer), undated
  • Notes and course materials, undated
  • Notebook, undated
  • Course notes, undated
  • Index cards and typed drafts, undated
  • Theatre history booklist and notes, undated
  • Notes and drafts, undated
  • Ashland Studies in Shakespeare (Oregon Shakespeare Festival) - 1961
  • Box 11:
  • High School Yearbook - 1951
  • High School Yearbook - 1952
  • High School Yearbook - 1952
  • High School Yearbook - 1953
  • Mills College Yearbook - 1954
  • Mills College Yearbook - 1955
  • Box 12:
  • Mills College Yearbook - 1956