Bené Arnold

Bené Arnold

Bené Arnold

Bené began her dance training in Los Angeles with the Ethel Meglin Dance Studio.  In 1948 she was accepted into the San Francisco Ballet School under the direction of Harold Christensen and his faculty Willam and Lew Christensen, Ruby Asquith, Gisella Caccialanza, Mattlyn Gavers and Anatol Joukowsky.  Under Lew Christensen, Artistic Director of the San Francisco Ballet Company, Bené rose to the rank of soloist and later became his ballet mistress.

In 1962, Bené relocated to Salt Lake City, Utah where she directed her own ballet school, “The School of Ballet Arts”.  In 1963, Bené was asked by Willam F. Christensen to be the ballet mistress for the future company, Ballet West.  She served in this capacity until 1975 when she joined the Department of Ballet faculty, University of Utah.  Besides her teaching assignments in the Ballet Department Bené taught in the UGS and Honors departments.  She designed a UGS course on the various performing arts that explored the history of theater, music, ballet, opera, musical theater, jazz and rock n’ roll. She also developed a telecourse, “The Performing Arts” on the history of ballet and opera.

Bené received her B.F.A. and M.F.A from the Department of Ballet, and her B.S. in elementary education and Masters of Education in special education (teaching the deaf as her specialty) from the University of Utah.

Bené organized a young group of profoundly deaf girls, known as The Deaf Shall Dance.  These dancers performed with Jacques d’Amboise’s deaf boys in the Imagination Celebration Festival for the Handicapped sponsored by the Kennedy Center held at the Kennedy Center, Washington, DC; Industrial Museum at Chicago, Illinois; the World Fairgrounds, Seattle, Washington (1978).  They also performed for the National Convention for the Alexander Graham Bell Association held in St. Louis, Missouri (1977) and Alexander Graham Bell Association in Salt Lake City, Utah (1976).  In 1980 Bené presented a paper entitled “Ballet-Rhythm-Pantomime for the International Congress on Deaf Education.

Bené has choreographed for the Utah Opera(1985), The Merry Widow and Carmen. For the Arizona Opera she staged Mattlyn Gavers, Aida and she choreographed The Merry Widow. In the early years of Ballet West she staged many ballets of the Balanchine and Lew Christensen repertoire. She is Willam F. Christensen’s representative and has staged his Nutcracker for the Cincinnati Ballet Company.  In Ballet West’s 2000-2001 season she assisted the ballet master, Bruce Caldwell with Mr. Christensen’s Nothing Doin’ Bar.

In 1985 Bené created the role of Fatme, in Abdallah, an August Bournonville ballet, re-choreographed by Toni Lander and Bruce Marks, Ballet West  Artistic Director.  This began her career as a guest artist in various character roles with Ballet West.  The nurse in Michael Smuin’s Romeo and Juliet, Carabosse in Sleeping Beauty, Berthe in John Hart’s Giselle, Prudence in Val Canaparoli’s The Lady of The Camillias, and most recently Gremilio’s Bride in John Cranko’s, The Taming of The Shrew.

In 1985, Ballet West’s Artistic Director John Hart asked Bené to become the rehearsal assistant for the young dancers used in the Nutcracker.  She has auditioned as many as 800 young dancers and currently trains six casts, a total of 320 young dancers.

Bené has been the recipient of many University of Utah research grants, she has served on the Utah Art Council’s Dance panel, and is included in publications: The World’s Who’s Who of Women, Community Leaders and Noteworthy Americans Award, Registry of Profiles and Who’s Who of Intellectuals.

In 1984 Bené received a citation from the Utah State Senate–recognizing her contribution through ballet to the state.  In 1997 she received the Chamber of Commerce Award in the Arts and the Governor’s Award in the Arts.  In 1998 Bené was the first woman and only faculty member from Fine Arts and Humanities to be named, Distinguished Professor. In 2001 Bené received recognition for her teaching excellence as the KSL teacher of the Month.  In May she was given the College of Fine Arts Excellence award for her teaching and upon her retirement from the University she was name Distinguished Professor Emerita.

In July 2001, Jonas Kage, Artistic Director of Ballet West appointed Bené, School Director of the Ballet West Academy, a position she held for three years.