Local Magazine Awards Professor with Lifetime Memory Award
SHREVEPORT, La.—SB Magazine recently published the 6th Annual Memory Theatrical Awards for 2008 and awarded Ginger Folmer, Professor Emerita of Dance, the Lifetime Memory Award.
Many Centenary supporters remember the 1957 production of The King and I that opened the Marjorie Lyons Playhouse doors for the first time and launched a dance career for the then 16-year old student from Byrd High School. Folmer left Shreveport shortly after graduating from Centenary in 1964, but returned in 1975 to teach dance and continue choreographing at the Marjorie Lyons Play House, where she remained until her retirement.
Below is the full text from SB Magazine, August 2009 edition.
(Reprinted courtesy SB Magazine)
"Lifetime Memory Award"
by Bryan Myers
For such an extraordinary woman, you would expect Ginger Folmer’s childhood was anything but ordinary; you would be right. Raised in a household where the back half of the house was the living space and the front half was a family run dance studio, it’s easy to see the reason Folmer grew up with such a love for the theatrical arts.
With an aunt and a mother who were dance instructors, Folmer was captivated from the moment she first witnessed a class. The beauty and grace of movement was mesmerizing. By the time she learned to walk, Ginger Folmer was ready to take the dance floor. As expected, she was a natural. Shortly before her second birthday, she took part in her first dance recital. A year later she was a regular attendant in her aunt’s classes.
As a 9-year-old, she did what most adults dream of doing. She traveled to the premier places to learn—Los Angeles and New York. Every summer, a young Ginger Folmer would accompany her aunt and mother to the east and west coast cities and receive superlative instruction from some of the most renowned names in dance. In California, she learned ballet from Ernest Belcher. In New York, she attended classes at the Ballet Theater School and sampled a variety of other styles—jazz, interpretive, modern and more.
Soon it was Folmer’s uncle who spurred the acting bug within her. Around the age of 16, she began doing plays at the Marjorie Lyons Playhouse and aspired to be like Lailia Hurst White, whom she had seen in the early ‘50s. Her first experience of performing for and audience was something new and exhilarating. Her love for the stage would continue to grow from that point on.
After high school, determined and young, she traveled to the Dallas State Fair Musicals and received her equity card for the performance. Her confidence then soaring, Folmer decide to venture to the "Big Apple" and try and "make it big."
However it was in New York where Ginger Folmer’s eyes were finally and dejectedly opened. She experienced the reality of show business and its hardships. Although she managed to land a starring role in one of the greatest musicals of all time West Side Story, she learned how hard it was to move on to new things.
Every time she began looking around, it was like starting again from square one. It was a valuable lesson, one she wouldn’t trade. But when all was said and done, she decided that returning home was the best thing.
Upon arriving back in Shreveport, Folmer picked up dance school and majored in Theater and Speech at Centenary College. She recalled her love of teaching and decided to go to graduate school in Syracuse, N.Y., where she received her master’s degree and began her family.
Some years after completing graduate school, Folmer was offered a position to teach theatre, speech and dance at Centenary. While at Centenary, she has touched the lives of many students. Perhaps her favorite group to reach was college students. They weren’t there because they had to be, but because they wanted to be. After choreographing more than 100 musical productions and helping countless students fulfill their potential, she has made more of an impact in the Shreveport community than even she probably realizes.
But, after some 30 years with the Escaped Images Dance Company, Ginger Folmer had finally retired, handing over everything to one of her former students. Although she may have left the dance scene, she is still a regular at local theatres. She enjoys seeing new productions and now supports many former students as they dance along that old familiar path she traveled so many years ago.
However, the curtain has yet to fall on the icon’s career. Folmer still does work with choreography and acting, and, as she said, "I may have retired from teaching, but not from the theatre." So stop to stretch, take a break and grab a snack because this is merely an intermission.