Bobbie Wynn Bolden
Bobbie Wynn Bolden, UC Davis Department of Theatre & Dance professor and the godmother of the university’s dance program, retired in 2003 after 18 years of teaching. She will always be remembered for dancing to the beat of her own drummer.
When she first came to UC Davis in 1985 to teach dance, those classes were offered only through the physical education department. Bolden, along with the late Jere Curry, each taught half a dozen dance classes per quarter including tap, jazz, and Irish folk dance. But her students’ demand for more serious exploration into the world of dance led Bolden to break away from physical education and establish dance as its own major.
Bolden’s legacy is apparent in the number of students who have planted themselves firmly in the dance world. Many have continued to dance with major companies including The Alvin Ailey Dance Company, The Paul Taylor Dance Company and the Dance Theater of Harlem. A few have even assembled their own dance companies. In addition to challenging her students in their various dance repertoires, Bolden also provided them with an African American perspective on dance. Bolden continues to teach special classes and workshops in the Davis area.
Bolden taught modern dance, jazz dance, and dance composition and directed the annual student dance concert, Dance Collage. She was for many years the faculty advisor for the UCD-affiliated student dance companies, Nexus Dance Collective and the Black Repertoire Dance Company. A joint professor in the Theatre and Dance and African American and African Studies departments, she currently teaches dance composition, history of African-American dance, Afro-Caribbean dance and culture, and African dance in the Diaspora. She has traveled to Cuba and Barbados researching and studying indigenous secular and sacred dance forms. Prior to her appointment at UC Davis, Bolden was for six years the founder and Artistic Director of Bobbie Wynn and Company in San Jose. During this time she created more than 15 works, both for the proscenium stage and for site-specific events. Bolden has won numerous awards, including a California Arts Council Artist-in-Residence grant. Her credits include Roots Suite; An Experimental Dance Program Celebrating the Alexander Calder Exhibit; Harlem Renaissance Revisited; and Fireworks Rag. Bolden was a featured artist on the television programs Three Black Artists and Tapestry and Talent Highlights. Recent works are Mid-Life Mourning, Quilt Dreaming, and Childhood Stages. A past-president of the California Dance Educators Association, Bolden has a BA in modern languages (Talladega College, Talladega, Alabama), and an MA in Theater Arts (San Jose State University). She also studied at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, the Dance Theater of Harlem, and with Bella Lewitsky and Jennifer Scanlon.