The School of Dance is mourning the passing of our own Professor Emeritus John Gamble.
John Jenkins Gamble, Jr. passed as the sun set on his 79th birthday surrounded by his closest loved ones on February 10th, 2022 at Annie Penn Hospital in Reidsville, NC.John was born February 10th, 1943 in Albany, NY, to John Jenkins Gamble MD and Lois Leta Nealand Gamble. He attended Albany Academy where in addition to his studies he excelled in choir, track, and swimming – graduating in 1961. In spending summers at the family lake house he learned to waterski, eventually teaching himself to kick off the skis – carving the water barefoot. As an expert swimmer he set speed records for his high school swim team.He later studied at Cornell University, Union College, New School for Social Research, and American University. Upon meeting Jan Van Dyke and discovering modern dance in the midst of NYC’s Greenwich Village Folk scene in 1963, John began a journey that led to an extraordinary career spanning decades in the realm of dance, theater, and the arts. John and Jan married and founded the Georgetown Workshop in Washington DC, which produced the first significant series of concerts by local choreographers in the nation’s capital (1967-1970). John designed and built two small theater venues in DC, the Georgetown Workshop in Georgetown and the Church Street Theater near Dupont Circle, to serve as homes for the series. His education and explorations then took him from the east to the west coast, and back again. After tending to some soul-searching around Santa Fe, NM, and receiving mentoring from modern dance greats in San Francisco, CA, John then went on to Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, to develop the university’s MFA degree in dance and serve as department chair from 1975-1985. Deciding it better to raise children outside the big city, he finally landed at the University of North Carolina Greensboro in 1985 as head of the Dance Department where he designed their theater, developed their BFA and MFA degree programs, and ultimately earned the honor of Professor Emeritus. Simultaneously he was director of the John Gamble Dance Theater, through which choreographed works were presented throughout the United States, Canada, France, and Germany. His contact improvisation classes were valued by many who sought to explore their voices in movement, and were a key ingredient in developed productions.His accolades include a Senior Faculty Research Grant in 1990, a North Carolina Arts Council Choreographic Fellowship in 1991, selection as a Pew Foundation Community Entrepreneur 1998-2000, the NC Board of Governor’s Teaching Excellence Award in 2006, and the NC Dance Alliance Annual Award in 2007. His mentors include Anna Halprin, Daniel Nagrin, and Erika Thimey.Alongside his work in dance and the arts, John enjoyed a number of interests including playing and performing music, gardening, cooking, sports, sailing, building and travel. One of his favorite activities was playing guitar and singing with his partner Jen and their band, in their historic home on Sunday mornings. A voracious reader and political junkie, he welcomed conversation and could be counted on to lend his ear or offer valuable insight, wisdom and humor.John cultivated a life rich in community and will be deeply missed and remembered well by relatives as well as his family of artists, musicians, makers, and creators. He was teacher, mentor and collaborator to many. His visions and the spaces he helped create and build will continue to cultivate community and art for years to come.John is survived by his loving partner of twenty-two years, Jennifer McNure. He is also survived by his three sons; JW, Ian and Oliver, as well as their mother Lu Williams. The eldest of four siblings John is survived by his sister Judy Downey, and his brothers Allen and Tom. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews, as well as granddaughters Lenore and Ayla.