AACC dance director to retire


Ken Harriford

AACC’s only full-time dance professor, Lynda Fitzgerald, plans to retire in August.

Audrey Wais, Editor-in-Chief

The director of AACC’s Dance Company will retire on Aug. 15 after working at the college for 33 years. 

Lynda Fitzgerald, the coordinator for performing arts-dance, founded the company in 1989 and grew the college’s dance program from two courses within the physical education major to a full associate degree with a show each semester. 

The college offers 25 credit and a variety of non-credit dance courses. 

“It’s been huge,” Fitzgerald said of the growth of the program and the Dance Company, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2019. 

After earning a master’s degree in dance education from Stanford University and teaching elsewhere for a year, Fitzgerald started her AACC career part-time as an admission adviser in 1987.

By her second semester here, she started teaching a jazz class and became the Dance Company’s faculty adviser after student dancers petitioned the college to start it.    

“They asked me to sign on as the faculty adviser … and the Dance  Company really got us on the map,” Fitzgerald said. “That was just like opening the gates for me.”  

Lynda Fitzgerald
Ken Harriford
AACC’s dance company director, Lynda Fitzgerald, worked at AACC for 33 years.

But Fitzgerald, who had knee replacement surgery in fall 2020, said her health and age have begun to limit her on the dance floor.    

“I always want to demonstrate movement,” she said. “And … I feel that I can’t demonstrate that to the best of my ability and show them what I want. … I just feel that I should be able to set the example and live the example and I just don’t feel that I can do that to the extent that I want to do it any longer.”    

She added: “This has been a dream job beyond description, but it’s definitely time for a change.”    

Her students and colleagues said they will be sorry to see her go.   

“Lynda is just an incredible colleague, she’s an incredible teacher and she’s an incredible dancer,” Dr. Ian Wardenski, the chair of performing arts, said. “It’s going to be sad to see her go, but we understand.”   

Dance Company alum Rashad Ferguson said describing his experience with Fitzgerald “would be like asking me the highlight of my experience with my mom. … It’s just been a real treasure.”

Fourth-year business administration and dance student Shawn Cook said Fitzgerald deserves her retirement. 

“She’s put a lot of work into the dance program at AACC so for her to take the time out for herself, I think it’s well deserved,” Cook said. 

Ferguson agreed. “I am super thrilled that she is able to now move on to the next chapter of her life,” Ferguson said.    

Fitzgerald said she has kept in touch with many of her students over the years as they started and succeeded in dance careers.    

Fitzgerald will leave the college just as it starts lifting restrictions imposed by the pandemic.  

AACC canceled all studio dance classes for fall 2020 as a precaution against COVID-19, which has shown to spread quickly among dancers, singers and other performers.    

This semester, small groups of dance students will meet on campus for classes during which they will wear masks and socially distance, Fitzgerald said.   

Still, she said she made her decision to retire before the pandemic started.    

“COVID certainly made the choice a little bit easier,” she said, “but … this had been planned and discussed with my dean and vice president before COVID even hit.”    

Since the campus closed in March, she said, “I haven’t had the contact with the students, which is such a game-changer for me. And that’s why I teach. It’s the contact with the students. It’s watching them grow. It’s seeing their faces and helping them through.”    

Fitzgerald said she plans to travel and take classes after she says good-bye to AACC next summer. 

Wardenski said a faculty search committee will look for a new dance faculty member and dance coordinator.    

“That person will continue and maintain all which Lynda has built over that last 30 plus years,” Wardenski added.