The artistic director for BYU’s Ballroom Dance Company announced his retirement at the end of the school year after directing the group for 35 years.
Wakefield and his wife, Linda, have led the Ballroom Dance Company to fame and national championship awards. As they strive for excellence and professionalism, their efforts have helped build a nationally renowned ballroom program.
“Lee Wakefield has made the Ballroom Company what it is today,” said Nicole Stolle, the current president of Ballroom Dance Company. “We are known worldwide because of him. He truly knows everything that there is to know about ballroom and encourages each of us students to be good people and dedicated students. He is a strong mentor and leader to each of us.”
Wakefield started dancing at the age of 14. He later became involved in BYU’s dance program, where he taught social dance classes to interested students. He met his wife at the Richards Building in 1973, where they were both dancing. They were married a short time after. They competed professionally for 12–13 years, winning two United States National Professional Theatre Arts Championships. The couple then returned to BYU to direct the Ballroom Dance Company and help the Department of Dance grow.
Lee Wakefield was the department chair for 10 years and taught classes while directing the Ballroom Dance Company.
“What keeps me going is being able to see the students progress and then end up being full of talent and confidence,” Wakefield said. “I love being able to see the students’ dreams become their reality. I have thoroughly enjoyed teaching and touring with the Ballroom Dance Company.”
Curt Holman will be the new artistic director for the Ballroom Dance Company.
“Lee has great leadership skills and really defined the Department of Dance. It is very difficult to say all the great things that he has done because he has done so much,” Holman said of Wakefield. “It has become a world-class company. His vision brought the international style technique, and he has shaped the company into what it is today.”
The Ballroom Dance Company has benefited from Wakefield’s emphasis of technique and professionalism.
“They have developed the form of Ballroom Dance from a technical perspective rather than a recreational perspective,” Holman said.
Wakefield recognized his wife’s role when reflecting on his career.
“Linda and I initially met one another in the Richards Building here, and we will be ending our career together right here where we started,” he said. “It is a unique thing to be able to come to work with my sweetheart every day. We are coming full circle, as we started this journey together here, and we will end it here.”