Marcia Dale Weary, a dance teacher whose school in rural Pennsylvania trained a number of prominent ballet dancers and helped populate the ranks of many major companies, died Monday in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, just outside Harrisburg. She was 82.
The cause was heart failure, said Nicholas Ade, the school’s chief executive.
Weary’s school, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, is located about a half-hour west of Harrisburg, in Carlisle. There, since the 1950s, she inculcated the fundamentals of ballet technique, without affectations or shortcuts, in thousands of students from around the country.
“Her teaching was very clear, very succinct,” Ade said. “She broke things down. She would work on a tendu,” a sliding of the foot away from the body, “until it was done perfectly. Her genius is that she knew when to move on and when to slow down.”
Her reputation for deliberate, exacting training was the reason so many gifted students came to Carlisle. Graduates are on the rosters of nearly every important American company, including New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theater, San Francisco Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Miami City Ballet.
Weary’s former pupils have included Geoffrey Cirio, a principal dancer at English National Ballet, and Ashley Bouder, a principal at New York City Ballet. Many have gone on to become teachers, choreographers and company directors.
Ade said in a phone interview that Weary was particularly proud when she heard just days before her death that Jonathan Stafford, whom she trained in the 1990s, had recently been selected to become artistic director of New York City Ballet. (She also trained his sister, Abi Stafford, a principal at the company.)
“She made us feel lucky to be able to study ballet, to be pursuing a higher art and be surrounded by classical music,” Stafford said by email. “When you’re dancing, it’s not just about steps — it’s about living and breathing the music and letting your soul and your personality come out.”
Petite and soft-spoken, with a singsongy voice, Weary nevertheless had an intensity about her. She would often get down on the floor and mold her dancers’ feet into the perfect position.
“She used to walk into the studio with that brisk little walk and her pearl earrings,” said Darla Hoover, who studied with Weary in the 1970s.
Marcia Dale Weary was born in Carlisle on March 31, 1936, the middle daughter of Dale Edwin Weary, a surveyor and bookkeeper, and Melva Grace (Farrow) Weary, a homemaker. She attended elementary schools in Pennsylvania and Alabama, where, during World War II, her father had a job as a warehouse supervisor near Mobile. It was there that Weary was exposed to ballet, at the recital of a family friend.
In addition to Sandra Weary, her older sister, Weary is survived by her younger sister, Rosemary Lyn Weary.