Sandra J. 'Sandi' Combest, 84, of Denton, Professor Emerita of dance who shaped the dance program within the Department of Dance and Theatre in her work at UNT from 1966 to 2001, died May 3. She brought dance from the physical education department to an accredited academic program in what is now the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. She directed the creation and implementation of the B.A. and B.F.A. in dance and the M.A. in interdisciplinary studies in dance. As department chair from 1993 to 2001, she oversaw several renovations to the program’s spaces.
She also brought recognition to UNT through student state and national performances; publications in numerous journals; as editor of Dance Impulse: The International Journal of Dance, Science, Medicine and Education from 1994 to 1997; as a member of the National Executive Board for the American College Dance Festival Association; and as board president for the Texas Council on the Arts in Education. She coordinated regional festivals and one national American College Dance Festival hosted at UNT.
She also choreographed dances throughout the U.S., Europe and India. Her collaboration with international sculptor Jesús Bautista Moroles (’78) was presented in art galleries throughout the world. She founded and directed her own professional modern dance company, Dance Theatre of the Southwest, raising $130,000 in grants.
In 1998, she received the Mary McLarry Bywater’s Lifetime Contribution to Dance Award from the Dance Council of North Texas, acknowledging her influence on dance in this region.
She earned her bachelor’s degree from Sul Ross State University, earned her master’s degree from Texas Tech University and pursued postgraduate work at Texas Woman’s University. She also taught at schools in Odessa and Lubbock and danced professionally in New York City before coming to UNT.