It is with heavy hearts that we share news of the passing of Professor of Dance Emerita, Françoise Martinet. A charter member of the Joffrey Ballet, Martinet joined the UI dance faculty in 1978, where she worked for more than twenty years, until her retirement in 2002. She served as chair of the Department of Dance from 1987-1991, and throughout her tenure she choreographed and restaged many ballets for the department. Upon her retirement, the department established the Françoise Martinet Scholarship fund. A scholarship from this fund is awarded each year to a deserving student with strength and skill in ballet. The 2021-22 recipient is senior Emily Trapnell, who plans to pursue a career in contemporary ballet. Françoise’s legacy lives on our students today, and we extend our deepest sympathies to the alumni, former faculty and staff, and entire UI Dance family who were impacted by her work in the Department of Dance.
“Françoise was an extraordinary colleague and a true mentor, in so many ways,” according to Professor of Dance, Armando Duarte. “She made me feel welcome and constantly provided support and mentorship that only helped with my academic career. To this day, I carry her advice with me and, when appropriate, I pass it along to the junior faculty of the department: ‘When teaching, don't think only about how much you can give to students; think on how much they can take it.’ I am forever thankful for her presence in my life.”
"Today we mourn the passing of Françoise Martinet, one of the guiding lights of the UI Department of Dance, whose dedication to dance leaves a lasting legacy. We are grateful for her generosity and all that she gave to the department as a faculty member as well as for the gift that lives on in the Françoise Martinet Scholarship Fund. It is an honor to carry on in her memory and in recognition of her work." (Rebekah Kowal, Professor of Dance and Chair of the UI Department of Dance)
Upon her retirement, UI Dance faculty and students expressed the following statements, which we believe illustrate her significance in the lives of her students and colleagues:
“I especially loved some of the expressions you would use in the classroom, such as, ‘The eyes are the window to your soul.’ I used to go home and quickly write them down because they were so meaningful in day-to-day life.” (Debbie Solomon Ehrlich)
“When I was graduating, I came into your office very nervous about the future and you said something that has always stuck with me. You said, ‘Dancers are the most dedicated people in the world. Dance prepares you for every occupation, whether that be in dance, law, or opening a restaurant.’ I have always followed my heart and it has led me to many wonderful experiences, and I thank you for your wisdom.” (Amy Wittlock)
“There is a grace and gentle understanding that Françoise creates in her classes. Her ability to share her intimate knowledge and understanding of ballet technique and ballet as an art form, with intelligence and wit, provide an insight into dance that sparks the imagination of her students.” (Molly Faulkner)
“Of course, my technique improved a great deal in your class, but some of the most valuable things that I gained were not about technique. You taught me that being a dancer is an honor and a very valuable vocation in our society. You made me feel proud of myself.” (Tracy Machevec)