University of Florida College of the Arts (COTA) alumni Judy Skinner and Kim Tuttle received Distinguished Alumna Awards this year for their outstanding achievements in their fields and their contributions to UF.
Judy Skinner first received her bachelor’s degree and Master of Education degree from UF—where she said she learned what she was passionate about—and continued her studies in New York. Skinner has received several individual fellowships in choreography from the state of Florida and has served as an executive director and resident choreographer for Dance Alive National Ballet.
“I remember applying for a choreographic fellowship knowing I was too old,” Skinner said. “When I was awarded the fellowship, I blocked the ‘too old’ mentality and went on to create some of my best work.”
Skinner has received the Nancy Smith Award by the Florida Dance Association, the Lifetime Achievement in Arts award by the City of Gainesville and the Women Who Make A Difference award by the Girl Scouts of America, but she called receiving the Distinguished Alumnus Award “life changing.”
“Knowledge that what I have done has meaning to a larger world has inspired me to greater efforts in my field,” Skinner said. “I expect to go on making more art—hopefully inspiring others.”
Skinner has also lended her talents to the education sphere as a primary teacher in the public school system for eighteen years and as an adjunct faculty for the University of Florida School of Theatre + Dance.
“I hope that young artists and dancers will come to understand that sometimes it is more about the working, not the work,” Skinner said. “You can have all the gifts and talents in the world and not accomplish anything. It is about the effort and work and commitment to your art form… and sometimes a little bit of luck!”
Kim Tuttle, who also received a Distinguished Alumnus Award, attended UF on a full scholarship where she was a staff pianist for the department of music. As a student at UF, Tuttle said she “learned how to work” from her piano teacher, Samuel Teeters.
Since her time as a student, Tuttle has created over 100 ballets, served on the State of Florida Dance Panel and became an executive artistic director and resident choreographer for Dance Alive National Ballet in 1986.
Tuttle has been the recipient of the Nancy Smith Award given by the Florida Dance Association, the Lifetime Achievement in the Arts award given by the City of Gainesville and the Woman of Distinction Award by Santa Fe College.
To Tuttle, receiving UF’s Distinguished Alumna Award shows a recognition of the value of the arts, and she hopes her influence in the artistic world will inspire the next generation of young artists and dancers to keep striving for innovation in the world of dance.