Mary Waugh Taylor

Profile By: Laura Jaros


Part Two Overcoming Adversity

Mary Waugh Taylor was born on October 13, 1956 in Okoboji Iowa, a young girl in love with ballet. Mary didn’t know it at the time, but she would become an inspiration to hundreds of young girls just like her one day. In many ways, Mary exemplifies the qualities of a true feminist hero by “doing it all,” and fighting against the odds.  According to her oldest daughter Maya, Mary was offered a scholarship while in high school to attend the Royal Academy of Ballet in London.  Unfortunately, because of bad car accident, Mary was unable to go. However, following her graduation, Mary chose to pursue a career in dance. According to Annette van de Kamp-Wright in “Mary Waugh-Taylor: Much More than a Fabulous Teacher,” Mary moved to Salt Lake City, Utah where she earned her BFA in dance at the University of Utah and danced with Ballet West, Utah’s premier ballet company. For a woman from Iowa to attend college in the 1970s was rare and to choose dance as her major was an even more daring move.

It was during college that Mary met Ed Taylor, an African American man also attending the University. She and Ed were married shortly after college and moved to Washington for Ed’s job. Although interracial marriages are more widely accepted nowadays, at the time marrying someone of a different race was not very common, especially for a small town Midwesterner. Mary’s marriage serves as another example of her feminist persepective and courageous personality. Following her time at Ballet West, Mary was on contract with both Mid-Columbia Regional Ballet Company and Heritage Dance Company.


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Part Three Dance at UNO and Beyond

The couple moved back to Utah after a few years where they had their first daughter Maya in 1984. Two years later, in 1986, the Taylor’s moved to Omaha, Nebraska, once again for Ed’s job with the Sidal Company. Shortly after their move to Omaha, Mary gave birth to her second daughter, Halley. It was at that time that Mary entered the Omaha dance scene and met Professor Josie Metal-Corbin. “I met her on stage,” Metal-Corbin states, “in an OMDC (Omaha Modern Dance Collective) piece that was being performed in the black room of the Arts and Sciences building at UNO; that performance area no longer exists” (Interview). Being the assistant director of The Moving Company, UNO’s modern dance ensemble, and a professor at the University, Metal-Corbin encouraged Mary to teach dance classes at UNO. “This was Mary’s first entry