Dance instructor dies at 61

Emily Mayne, a dance and yoga instructor at Pierce College well known for her passion and unwavering dedication, died at the age of 61.

Devoting most of her life to her career in dancing, Mayne died on May 29 after being diagnosed with cancer two years prior. She continued to teach until 2012 when her class was abruptly cancelled in the fall semester.

Mayne’s spirit and strict discipline helped numerous students’ progress in their careers. Though she was well versed in many forms of dance, swing dancing and the classic south Indian practice of “Bharata Natyam” were her favorites in particular.

Mayne majored in dance choreography and acquired a bachelor’s degree from Antioch University and a master’s degree from University of California, Los Angeles.

Mary Cox, facilities assistant of physical education, worked alongside Mayne while she was employed at Pierce and spoke of work in the entertainment industry.

“She helped choreograph several Cirque Du Soleil acts,” Cox said. “As well as pose for Pixar in their animation studio.”

Mayne also did numerous works for Sony Imagineworks, Pacific Data Images, Blue Sky Studios, San Francisco Academy of art’s Program, Disney, and Industrial Light and Magic.

Studying various dances from different countries, the Indian culture had the most profound effect on her dancing style. The Florida native spent 10 years practicing “Bharata Natyam” with one of the most distinct and renowned teacher in the world, Tanjore Balasaraswati.

Emily also had a book published called “The Nattuvanar’s Art,” in which she explains in great detail the music that is associated with “Bharata Natyam.”

Friend Hiroko Hojo, adjunct instructor of physical education, describes Mayne’s work ethic in a statement.

“She could be very neurotic and demanding at times,” said Hojo. “Only because she was very particular about her way of teaching.”

Another close colleague, Christine Valada, also spoke of her former associate.

“She loved her students; she loved dancing; and she loved to organize,” Valada said. “We had an awful lot in common.”

As a family friend to Mayne, Valada enrolled her son in her dancing class and he has enjoyed it ever since.

“She was a terrific person with a great sense of humor, which made up for the fact that she was a terrible cook,” Valada said.

Mayne is survived by her significant other, Ron Wagner, of 22 years.