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Bene Arnold brings ballet expertise to Dixie State

Published: Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 19:09

After a whirl-wind career, new Dixie State College distinguished professor Bene Arnold finds herself soaking up the southern Utah sunshine while pursuing what she loves most—teaching.

With a prestigious career under her ballet shoes, working with the San Fransico Ballet Company, Ballet West in northern Utah, and operating as the head dance chair at the University of Utah as well as many other exciting career ventures, Arnold has returned to St. George after visiting many times with Ballet West as well as a short stint in the area from 2004-2008.

"I really wanted to get out of the cold weather," Arnold said. "The older you get, the harder it is to shovel snow."

Along with the warm weather, Arnold said the people were a driving force in her decision to move to the area.

"I always loved the people here," Arnold said. "I always felt a great warmth here from the people. "

If you can't find Arnold tucked away in her office in the Graff building or instructing hopeful dancers in the studio, you may be able to find her avidly watching cooking shows on TV or working on some sort of project in her spare time.

"I love all kinds of handwork," Arnold said. "I love to knit and do embroidery."

Arnold began her career in ballet when she was very young due to physical illness and the lack of physical therapy at the time. She began taking dance classes in Los Angeles with the Ethel Meglin Dance Studio when a swimming instructor turned her away for her lack of physical ability (due to sickness).

Arnold said: " I really appreciated that teacher and know it made a big impact on me. That teacher was helping me. I was getting so much from her."

Arnold recalls Meglin putting her in charge of one student who suffered mentally as well as physically. Arnold would prepare lessons before-hand and said maybe Meglin knew just exactly what she was doing by putting her with that student.

"She could have even thought this girl isn't going to be able to dance much, but she'll be able to teach," Arnold said.

Arnold has a master's degree in elementary education. Through the years, Arnold has developed a great passion for teaching that is evident with every word she expresses concerning the subject.

"I enjoy teaching," Arnold said. "Period."

Whether it is putting that master's degree to work, substitute teaching, or instructing dance on a college level, Arnold hopes to make an impact on the younger generation for the better.

Arnold said: "Everybody has something to pass on, and it will probably make it a better world. I think we're all instrumental in doing that. I think we all have a real obligation to try in the best way we can to influence the younger people."

Arnold seems to be doing just that here at DSC. She says she is adapting well and is enjoying her time she has here.

"I'm very happy to be at the college, and I appreciate Dr. Lei's interest in having me be here," Arnold said. "I love the students. It's great faculty too."

Dance department director Li Lei is confident students are getting a good dance education from Arnold.

"I believe that our students and dance department will benefit from her extensive ballet background and expertise," Lei said. "I am confident that professor Bene Arnold will contribute to the development of our dance degree program in teaching upper division courses and assisting with dance production."

Arnold's love for teaching is apparent, and she wants to share her love with her students.

"You kids are the future," Arnold said. "You're the future teachers of dance, and other disciplines. I say everybody is going to teach in some way. In many ways influence the younger people to hold true to ethics and to stand up when they have to be counted."

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