Maude May Babcock
Maud May Babcock is one of the leading pioneers of dance and theatre in the early days of Utah. During her career, Babcock influenced four generations of speech and drama teachers, professional actors, and civic and religious leaders and prominent people of society including Ruth St. Denis of the Denishawn School of Dance, Lila Eccles, and President Joseph F. Smith.
Early Life and Career
Babcock was born on May 2, 1867 to William Wayne Babcock and Sarah Jane Butler.
Although she never attended BYU, Babcock was invited by Susa Young Gates, daughter of Brigham Young, to relocate from Harvard University to teach dance in Utah. Four months later, she joined the LDS church, much to her parent's dismay. By 1893, she had over 300 pupils from the University of Utah, Brigham Young Academy (the precursor to Brigham Young University) and private classes. Babcock held one of the first dance exhibitions of its time in Salt Lake City that year. As the Salt Lake Tribune reported in 1893, "It was an exhibition of fancy steps, attitudinizing, muscular poses, drills, dance steps, Swedish movements, Indian club and dumbbell performances."
In addition to her strong foothold in the dance world, Babcock was a talented elocutionist. She later founded the College of Physical Education (including dance), and the Department of Speech at the University of Utah. She was the first female chairperson among the University of Utah faculty. For twelve years she also served as Chaplain of the Utah Senate, the first woman in the country to hold such a position.
Many of Utah's most famous people were once her pupils, including Herbert Maw, the eventual governor of Utah; Lila Eccles; and Joseph F. Smith, eventual Prophet of the LDS church.
Her career spanned 46 years when Babcock retired in 1938. However, "Miss Bee," as she was known, continued to hold private lessons in her apartment for those that wished to learn the art of speaking up until her death in 1954.