The Ohio State University Alumni Association

Department of Dance founder Helen Alkire believes her passion for all things dance has contributed to her long life.

Helen Alkire got Ohio State dancing. And she credits her own moves, at least in part, for her longevity: Alkire turned 100 years old in May. “The only thing I ever remember as a child was wanting to dance, and seeing dancers, and talking about dance, and doing something with it, make it the most important thing in your life,” she said during a recent visit to the department she founded. “I think that kind of motivation may have kept the germs out.” 

Alkire convinced university officials to add a dance program in the 1950s while serving on the physical education faculty. When the College of the Arts was formed in 1968, Alkire became chair of the Department of Dance and continued in that role until 1983. Today, the widely acclaimed department has about 100 undergraduate students and 30 graduate students. “I loved dancing,” she said, “and thought it should be the center of the whole university.”