The Nellie-Bond Dickinson and Mary B. Settle Endowment funds Professional Summer Study Awards for faculty and students within the School of Dance. Since its establishment in 2002, awards have been given to more than 50 students.
The awards are named for Nellie-Bond Dickinson and Mary B. Settle, who were on faculty at Florida State College for Women in the physical education department. Dickinson is credited with bringing modern dance to FSCW/FSU and to Tallahassee, and the two shaped the lives of hundreds of young people through their work.
FSU School of Dance is proud to continue the legacy that Dickinson and Settle established at FSCW and FSU in dance and physical education through these Nellie-Bond Dickinson and Mary B. Settle Awards.
Nellie-Bond Dickinson (1912-2003) introduced modern dance – and Martha Graham – to FSU and Tallahassee. She established the high artistic standards that inform the School of Dance today and, with seriousness and style, set it on a path that has led to national prominence. Dickinson, known to friends and associates as ‘Bondie’, led dance at the university from 1935 to 1963, a period that included the 1947 transition from Florida State College for Women to co-ed Florida State University. Her impact was powerful: in person, on stage, and within the institution.
Before Dickinson’s arrival on campus, tap and country dance were taught through physical education. To appreciate the revolution, remember that modern dance was still exactly that: new and unfamiliar (put less euphemistically: strange).
Dickinson was a committed artist in this groundbreaking form. Twice she brought Martha Graham to campus. During a 1949 appearance, Graham acknowledged to a Flambeau reporter that modern dance would be ‘difficult to understand.’ She also praised Dickinson for her ‘wonderful work with her group here.’
Dickinson’s Theatre Dance Group, for which she choreographed, toured throughout the Southeast. She staged the first spring “Evening of Dance” on campus. She was herself a formidable presence, long remembered by admirers in particular dances. She impressed her students, in the words of one, as ‘bigger than life.’
A native of Wilson, North Carolina, Dickinson took her bachelor’s degree from Women’s College, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and her master’s from Teacher’s College, Columbia University. She left Florida State to teach at Marymount College of Virginia, but called her time in Tallahassee “the apex of my life.”
-Condensed from an article by Ellen Ashdown in the 2002 issue of Dance Magazine
For a personal interview with Dickinson, please read “She Taught FSCW to Listen to the Beat of a Different Drummer,” an article by Amy Zukeran, published in 1998 by the Florida State Times.
Mary B. Settle (1910-2001) graduated from Florida State College for Women with a bachelor’s degree in education in 1931. She was the student government president and class president. She also participated in varsity sports and taught the debate team.
From 1932 to 1941 she was a faculty member of the department of physical education at FSCW, which was housed in what is now known as Montgomery Hall.
Settle became a national consultant for recreation in the Works Progress Administration in Washington. In 1942 she became assistant director for recreation of the American Red Cross, and in 1943 she was assistant to the director of Military and Naval Welfare Services, which took her to battlefronts in the Pacific and Atlantic theatres.
After the war she was chief of personnel training, director of Red Cross services in hospitals and national director of training from 1953 until she retired in 1973.
Settle represented the 1931 FSCW class as its permanent president in the FSU Alumni Association and served on the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors from 1997 to 2001. She was a member of honor societies Spirogira and Mortar Board.
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