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Alumni Scholar: Doris Marsh

In 1949, when the Saginaw News announced Doris Marsh had received an Alumni Scholarship, the article noted: “Although a capable dancer, Miss Marsh wants to teach French or English. She will attend the University of Michigan. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W.H. Marsh 506 Atwater."

She received a BA and MA in art history from the University of Michigan and taught in the public schools from 1957 to 1970. However, the comment about her being “a capable dancer" was an understatement. She was passionate about ballet and would devote her life to sharing her passion.

Doris Marsh passed away in 2019. The obituary published at the time of her passing outlines her accomplishments:

Marsh, Doris Elaine 9/14/1931 - 11/28/2019 Saginaw, Michigan

Passed away Thursday, November 28, 2019, at Wellspring. Age 88 years.

Doris was the daughter of the late Elizabeth (Bates) and William Marsh and was born September 14, 1931, in Saginaw, Michigan. She graduated from Saginaw High School, in 1949, and received her Bachelors of Arts degree in Art History from the University of Michigan, in 1953. She studied Classical Ballet with Betty Oliphant of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Doris was a teacher at South Elementary, Saginaw Public Schools and taught Ballet as a private teacher, developing her own studio which she continued after leaving the Saginaw Schools. Her students performed as the Saginaw Valley Dancers throughout the area. She eventually developed The Nutcracker Ballet which was performed for 20 years until 1999.

Students also performed with the Saginaw Symphony Orchestra in the Berlios: L'Enfance du Christ, Menotti: Amahl and the Night Visitors, Humperdinck: Hansel and Gretel and she choreographed original ballets for the Young Peoples concerts: Snow Queen, Tales from Arabian Nights and many more. Students also performed with the NBC Opera and the Midland Symphony Orchestra.

Doris developed a Summer Dance Program at Delta College, a six-week program of daily classes, giving local students the opportunity to gain an insight into the professional training of a dancer. She taught ballet at Saginaw Valley State College and choreographed two years for the Fischer Opera Haus. Former students preformed with the Minnesota Dance Theater, Colorado Ballet, The Norwegian Opera Ballet, Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and the Interlochen Academy.

Many students continued her legacy as dance teachers. She belonged to the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, London England, and served as a founding member and president of the Saginaw Valley Dance Association. Her hobbies included photography, gardening and nature study.

Although her obituary only suggests the depth of her accomplishments, a memory left with her obituary is a fitting tribute to her work: “Your impact will be felt for generations to come.”

And it is also a fitting tribute to the Alumni Scholarship that assisted Doris Marsh in attending the University of Michigan.

The Castle Museum’s recently received an album Doris Marsh kept documenting her work and students. These pages are selected from this album and suggest her accomplishments and her passion for teaching.


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