New dance board drops challenge

Posted: Monday, January 21, 2002

The newly elected board of directors of Juneau Dance Unlimited has disbanded after deciding not to pursue a challenge of the existing board.

Members of the nonprofit group called a special meeting Jan. 3 and elected a new sevenmember board of directors, contesting the existing board. The two boards met Jan. 16 to talk about how the group would be governed. The new board asked for the resignation of the existing board, which refused to step down.

"We indicated that the meeting they had was really not legal," said board President Lupita Alvarez. "But we did accept the recommendation of (those) people to fill in the vacancies we currently have."

Gail Ford stepped into an existing voting vacancy and dance student Kelsey Skaggs stepped into a vacant nonvoting position of student representative.

"The group stayed intact," Alvarez said.

Mary Neary, one of the seven elected to serve on the new board, said members decided to drop their efforts to unseat the existing board.

"The present board expressed they weren't willing to step down," she said. "They were not willing to let the new people just take over. They expressed their feeling about it and that was accepted."

Neary said she's satisfied with the way things worked out.

"I'm happy to volunteer on a committee and willing to volunteer on a position if that came open. The input of energy is important at this point."

In December, more than 100 JDU members signed a petition stating they were concerned about the administration and lack of continuity in the dance program. Citing dissatisfaction with the response of the board and lack of communication with the membership, a group of JDU members rallied to oust the existing board.

Alvarez said the board and concerned JDU members will hold a retreat Feb. 9 to discuss the goals and priorities of the organization.

Jim Fowler, a longtime member of organization and a former board member, said about 25 people attended the meeting Jan. 16 at the downtown library.

"I felt like there was some really good debate," Fowler said. "People were able to say what was on their minds."

He said concerns ranged from business and administrative issues and the mechanics of running the nonprofit group to artistic goals.

Alvarez said the administrative office will remain the same, with three part-time staffers. The group is in the process of hiring a new artistic director and ballet master. JDU is offering a full roster of dance classes to about 100 students, but does not have an advanced ballet teacher.

"We are pursuing hiring somebody right away," she said. "Our hope is to have it filled by end of January."

Juneau Dance Unlimited was founded in 1975 to provide dance instruction for youths and adults and to foster interest in dance. JDU also runs an annual, month-long, summer fine arts camp offering a range of dance, music, theater and visual arts classes.

Riley Woodford can be reached at

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