Arts icon: Arts community celebrates Dorothy MacKenzie PriceWritten by John P. McCartney | | firstname.lastname@example.org
When the foyer and corridors of Ballet Theatre of Toledo buzz with anticipation, Nigel Burgoine, the ballet’s artistic director, is usually overcome with opening night jitters as he anticipates the stage manager’s “Curtain up and places” command.
However, the afternoon crowd of 50-plus guests of all ages and artistic interests gathered in those same foyer and corridors were awaiting something completely different — the entrance of a friend described by artist Yolanda Woodberry as “an icon of Toledo’s art community.”
It was 2:30 p.m. May 6, the day before Dorothy MacKenzie Price’s 86th birthday, and performers, artists, authors, educators and a handful of her longtime friends, some from as far back as 50 years, had gathered to celebrate the life and loves of a woman committed to the Toledo dance, music, art and literary communities.
Escorted by her daughter, Susan Hollern, visiting from Sedalia, Colo., Price entered the foyer to applause and a raucous rendition of “Happy Birthday to You.”
“She was surprised,” Hollern said. “She needed a little time to recompose herself. You know, you get humbled by that kind of reception. She’s very appreciative. She has a lot of very good friends who she really appreciates, and she was just happy to see people.”
Those friends included people from St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Maumee, the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, the Valentine Theater, the Toledo Symphony, the Toledo Museum of Art, the Ballet Theatre of Toledo, the Toledo Opera, Bowling Green State University and the University of Toledo, and all of them were ready to celebrate.
“It’s important to me that we support a lady who has been very, very good for something that’s as important as the arts,” Woodberry said. “Art is a part of us. It’s all about creating. It’s so important to encourage the creativity and the development of people.”
Although Price acknowledged that she has been generous to Northwest Ohio individuals and organizations, she said the most important thing to her is that people learn to recognize and respond to one another’s needs. She insisted time and again that her ability to help other people in need is her sole talent in life.
Price is fond of telling the story of “the music people from BG and UT and all the wonderful things they were doing. And I couldn’t believe they had to play on that kind of piano. That’s the way it started out. I saw a need. It all came out of need, and by accident, it helped make me happy that I could do the right thing.
Burgoine said Price has been “standing by us from the very beginning, helping us get this all started. She helped so very much.”
Price said she started “helping at the ballet because of Nigel. I said, ‘My money goes with him because I know how good he does.’ All these people here do things from their heart, for whatever reason, and I get to help them when I see their need.”
Burgoine used a ruse, asking Price to preview a rehearsal to get her out of her to his theater for the party.
Burgoine ended his ruse, a 15-minute production of song and dance routines, with the presentation of the “Golden Pointe Shoe Award,” a homemade, one-of-a-kind statuette. The award included a piece of the threshold to the practice room that dancers cross over daily, a piece of the gray marquee flooring on which dancers practice and perform, a piece of one of the ballet bars that dancers hold on to and a tiny pair of ballet slippers perched on top.
“It’s an original,” Burgoine said. “Dorothy has so many plaques. I wanted something that would say, ‘This is us. This is the kids.’”
Price said she is appreciative of the thought behind the presentation.
“It’s wonderful,” she said. “It’s not worth anything, but it means everything.”
Woodberry was pleased that the guests were able to make time to celebrate Price’s contributions.
“Although there were a lot of other things going on, people wanted to help to make this party possible because Dorothy is such a kind person,” Woodberry said. “She has helped so many people in the arts. You need to honor people like that and let them know.”
Tags: Ballet Theatre of Toledo, Bowling Green State University, Dorothy MacKenzie Price, Nigel Burgoine, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Maumee, the Toledo Museum of Art, the Toledo Symphony, the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, the Valentine Theater, Toledo Opera, University of Toledo, Warren Woodberry, Yolanda Woodberry