Ballet West remembers dance pioneer Bené Arnold

Jan 29, 2024, 11:00 AM | Updated: 11:17 am

Bené Arnold teaches a class of dancers....

Bené Arnold teaches a class of dancers in the 1970s. (Ballet West)

(Ballet West)

SALT LAKE CITY — Bené Arnold, a dance pioneer and the woman who served as the first ballet mistress for Ballet West died on January 25, 2024. She was 88. 

Arnold spent her career dancing, teaching, and choreographing. She received recognition for her work on several occasions, according to Ballet West. 

In 1984, the Utah State Senate recognized her for her contributions to the state. She was awarded the Chamber of Commerce Award and the Governor’s Award for the Arts in 1997. 

In 2001, she was named a Distinguished Professor Emerita by the University of Utah’s College of Fine Arts. She had also received several research grants, per Ballet West. 

The career of Bené Arnold 

According to a press release from Ballet West, Arnold joined the San Francisco Ballet School in 1948. During her time with the SF Ballet School, she earned a soloist position, a coveted role. 

Arnold joined Ballet West in 1964 as the company’s first Ballet Mistress, (along with a Ballet Master, someone who is responsible for rehearsing a company’s dancers, according to the Grand Rapids Ballet’s glossary of ballet terms). 

Bené Arnold speaks with Dimitri Romanoff in 1968.

Bené Arnold speaks with Dimitri Romanoff in 1968. (Ballet West)

She worked with Ballet West founder Willam Christensen to stage works for the ballet company, as well as for the Cincinnati Ballet, according to the press release.

Additionally, she choreographed pieces for the Utah Opera and Arizona Opera. She worked on shows such as Carmen and Aida, according to Ballet West. 

In 1975, Arnold joined the University of Utah Department of Ballet’s faculty. She continued to work with Ballet West as a rehearsal director for the Ballet West Academy, the Utah company’s dance school. Additionally, Arnold worked as the rehearsal director for the young dancers performing in The Nutcracker. 

According to the Corps de Ballet International, Arnold also organized a group of young, deaf dancers. The group, known as The Deaf Shall Dance, performed on several occasions throughout the United States. 

Remembering Bené Arnold

“She was instrumental in guiding and shaping the lives of hundreds if not thousands of dancers through Ballet West’s history and the University of Utah Dance Department,” said Peter Christie, the director of education and outreach for Ballet West. 

Sharee Lane, a dance educator, said that Arnold inspired lifelong learning in her students. “Having a deep, deep, unending passion for the art of ballet, Bené made it important to me,” said Lane. 

Lane added that Arnold was “courageous,” taking risks that innovated and inspired. She remembered Arnold as a devoted teacher

“She undoubtedly sparked my journey as a professional dancer at Ballet West for 10 years and as a dance educator at the University of Utah School of Dance for 28 years,” said Lane. 

Related: Ballet West, Willam Christensen and the history of ballet in America

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Arts + Entertainment

Arraignment for driver, Kent Cody Barlow today...

Heather Peterson, Diana Jones

Arraignment for driver accused of killing two boys in Eagle Mountain on Wednesday

The accused, Kent Cody Barlow, was reportedly driving over 100 mph when he crashed into Cedar Valley Stables.

2 days ago

LA Clippers executive board member Jerry West attends a game between the Orlando Magic and the Hous...

Devin Oldroyd

Inspiration behind NBA logo, Jerry West dies at 86

The inspiration for the NBA's logo and famed former basketball player Jerry West has died. West was 86-years-old. 

2 days ago

A rendering of a proposed "sports, entertainment, culture and convention center" surrounding Delta ...

Carter Williams,

Delta Center renovations could begin next year. Here’s what some of Smith’s plans look like

Construction to remodel the Delta Center could begin as early as April 2025, Smith Entertainment Group officials said Tuesday.

2 days ago

The Delta Center is pictured in Salt Lake City....


Smith Entertainment Group reveals new details about Salt Lake revitalization plan

In an interview with KSL TV, Smith Entertainment Group revealed more details of their planned revitalization of Downtown Salt Lake City.

3 days ago

The Rasmussen siblings pictured. The season finale of The Letter season 2 explores their wrestle wi...

Amy Donaldson

In Season Finale of The Letter Season 2, families have to decide if they misjudged killer

The season finale of The Letter Season 2 is out now - listen to it and read more behind the episode about the family's reaction.

3 days ago

Chris Jay and and "Army of Freshmen" from Ventura, California play Kilby Court Sunday June 15, 2003...

Josuee Sanchez

Heavy metal isn’t as damaging to the voice as you may think

Heavy Metal singers might sound like they're screaming, but it's not damaging their voices the way a normal scream might.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...


Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Ballet West remembers dance pioneer Bené Arnold