Melissa's love for dance began at an early age.
Inspired by the Nutcracker Ballet and Michael
Flatley's Lord of the
Dance, by age 5, dance became a major part of Melissa's life. In her time at WVDT, she took ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, and lyrical, and was part of the Company. During college at Indiana University, she was able to take a modern and Irish dance class, while earning an undergraudate degree in nonprofit management and later a Master of Public Affairs. When she moved back home after college graduation, she was excited to continue her love for dance by serving WVDT in another role. Melissa is pleased to help continue the storied WVDT tradition and provide more students a positive dance education.
Social Media Coordinator
Alina is a current senior at Manchester University. She plans to graduate in May 2022 with a bachelor's degree in Digital Media Arts while minoring in Public Relations. She began dancing at WVDT when she
was three. Alina now works as the WVDT Social Media Coordinator while finishing up her bachelor’s degree. She loves that she can mesh the world of social media, her love for dance, and the classical ballet roots of WVDT into one.
Board of Directors
About Wabash Valley
Wabash Valley Dance Theater was founded by Pauline Geyer in 1951. Pauline started dancing in Fort Wayne and took her talents to Indiana University during the Great Depression. There, she choreographed groups and musical numbers on a campus of fewer than 5,000 students. At Northwestern University, she did graduate work in English and further honed her dance talents.
Pauline arrived in Wabash in the late 1940s along with husband, Bob, who had recently acquired a new Ford dealership. While rearing three children, she started teaching ballroom dance, character dance and tap dance in the basements of the Honeywell Center and the old Indiana Hotel (currently Charley Creek Inn). Her first true studio was located above Brunswick Pool Hall next to Rock City Cafe on Market Street in the 1950s. The school was small, and Pauline’s daughter, Mandy, a longtime teacher at Fort Wayne Ballet, was one of its first students.
In the 1960s, Pauline wanted to broaden the performance opportunities for her students and decided to start the Wabash Valley Dance Theater Co. which joined the Northeast Dance Alliance. This organization would hold ballet festivals in Detroit, Philadelphia, Dayton and Washington, DC. Additionally, the Christmas Festival was another effort by Pauline to expose her young dancers to themed story ballets and performances in front of live audiences.
As the school grew and prospered, a new location with four floors was secured around 1980. The building featured two studios, storage for costumes and ground level frontage on Canal Street. Upon Pauline’s death in 1984, the school’s leadership transitioned to Vickie Lambert, a former student of Pauline’s, and also a student of dance at Indiana University.
Vickie had studied in New York City and had performed with numerous traveling companies. At the time she was hired, she had her own dance school in Huntington. Vickie quickly increased the Wabash Valley Dance Theater’s numbers from 70 to 200.
In 2021, Vickie retired from the dance school leaving a legacy of instruction and love for dance. The WVDT Board of Directors are grateful to Vickie to allow us to carry on the tradition of the studio. Melissa Ford, a former student, will be the new Director of the dance school. Lisa Mattern, a student of Pauline’s, will still act as the Creative Director.
We all feel that our founder, Pauline, would be proud to see that her vision for the Wabash community has surpassed the 50 year mark. We are looking forward to continuing to build on the strong ballet tradition that she has carried on from founder, Pauline Geyer.
Fundraising & Giving
Wabash Valley Dance Theater is dedicated to instilling a love of dance, while inspiring self-confidence, discipline and appreciation of the performing arts. We strive to deliver the highest quality of dance training, while nurturing each student's unique gift of talent and creativity.
Wabash Valley Dance Theater depends on the support of its donors and the community to provide the best experience for our dancers. We are thankful for all those who continue to help our studio fulfill our mission. WVDT is a 501(c)3, tax-exempt non-profit organization, and your gift may be tax deductible.