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Lifetime Achievement Award:

Nanci Westerlund McChesney-Henry

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Nanci Westerlund McChesney-Henry is a Dancer, Choreographer, and Teacher.  She earned a Master’s Degree in Dance from the University of Oregon (1980), and a BS in Physical Education with a Dance Minor from Minnesota State University at Mankato (1978). She holds a Yoga Alliance E.R.Y.T. 200 Certification (Mount Madonna Center, Watsonville, CA, 2002).  Nanci competed as an all-around intercollegiate gymnast at Minnesota State Mankato, and danced and choreographed for Orchesis.  At the University of Oregon, she was a Graduate Teaching Fellow and danced with the Concert Dance Theatre.  She created a choreographic and written thesis entitled, “There is No Finish Line”, exploring the tenets of Humanistic Psychology. Her related studies have also included Anatomy, Kinesiology, Exercise and Movement Science, and Sports Psychology.  Nanci has been teaching Modern Dance, Ballet, Jazz, Yoga, and Physical Education at Sheldon High School in Eugene, OR for 23 years. Her students earn college credit at LCC for the College Now Dance and Yoga Classes.  Nanci taught Modern Dance, Ballet, and Jazz Dance at the University of Oregon, Lane Community College, The Eugene School of Ballet, Creative Institute of Dance, and the City of Eugene, where she developed a dance program at Westmoreland Community Center. She founded Phoenix Dance Company in 1996.  As the Artistic Director and Choreographer of Phoenix, she blended activism with choreography and created community through meaningful dance performances. Nanci has danced professionally with the Eugene Ballet Company, Dance Theatre of Oregon, Phoenix Dance Company, and the Eugene Festival of Musical Theatre.  Nanci studied dance extensively with Florence Cobb, Shirley Scheer, Susan Zadoff, Janet Descutner, Joan Lazarus, Toni Pimble, Riley Grannan, Mary Oslund, Tim and Nickie Foster, Jo Savino, Loyce Houlton, Kathryn Posin, and at Reed College Summer Dance with Armgard Von Bardeleben.  Nanci has also traveled to study dance in New York, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Portland, and Cannes, France.  Nanci’s early influences include George Leonard, Margaret H’Doubler, Anna Halperin, the Judson Church Movement, Alwin Nikolais, David Howard, George Balanchine and the dancers of the New York City Ballet.


Nanci believes that all students should have the opportunity to experience Dance.   She encourages her students to be fearless and open to new experiences, and to play and have a sense of humor.  Through the exploration of fundamental movement, creativity through improvisation, and the development of an understanding of one’s own body, a solid foundation for dance and dance technique can be established. 


Nanci has been recognized with an 4J Schools ACE Award for Excellence in Teaching (2017), the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award at Sheldon High School (2012), and has been awarded two Lane Arts Council Community Artist Grants. She was inducted into the Delta Kappa Gamma International Society for Master Teachers. 


Nanci lives in Eugene with her husband, Darin Henry, and her dog, Buddy.  She enjoys singing, playing music, and surfing.

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