Career at BYU
In 1972 Wakefield arrived at BYU. Having studied dance since age 14, he quickly became involved in the dance program and began teaching classes himself. A semester later Linda Baes arrived at BYU. Raised as a Catholic, Baes came to BYU because it was the only university that offered a ballroom dance program. Six months later she joined the LDS Church and shortly thereafter married Lee.
The duo competed together at BYU before moving to California and working their way into the national and international limelight. Lee and Linda were active “world-class” professional competitors, placing third at the World Exhibition Championships in Perth, Australia. They subsequently won two United States National Professional Theater Arts Championships. In 1980, after six years of training, coaching, and competing, they returned to BYU to direct the Ballroom Dance Company. After returning to Provo the pair continued to compete, capturing two consecutive national championships in the theater arts category. Lee served as chair for the Department of Dance from 2000-2011.
"When we arrived at BYU, a lot of essentials already existed,” said Lee in a 1998 BYU Magazine article. “The university had a long history of support, a lot of classes were being offered, facilities were great, and there was a large enough pool of interested students that we could put together a talented group of performers. Everything was in place, making it possible for the program to blossom."
During their time as directors, the Ballroom Dance Company was selected to be one of only four University performing groups who regularly tour throughout the world each year representing the University and the Church.
Under the Wakefields the Company has won an additional seventeen British Formation titles and are the undefeated U.S. Formation Team champions since 1982. The company organized the World Amateur Standard Championships at BYU in 1993, and hosted the U.S. National Amateur DanceSport Championship annually since then.
Scholarship support for company members has grown tremendously under their leadership, from almost no scholarships to today where all thirty-two members of the BDC are on at least a half-tuition scholarship each year.
Wakefield served as the Dance Department Chair from 1999-2010.
Awards and Accomplishments
In 2009, National Dance Association presented Lee and Linda Wakefield with the Heritage Award for their accomplishments and lifetime dedication to ballroom dance. The Heritage Award is the highest honor that NDA bestows on an artist for a lifetime dedicated to dance education excellence.
Lee and Linda live in Provo, Utah. They have 5 children and have 5 grandchildren.
- The Daily Herald - BYU dancers ready to 'Jump and Jive' at Marriott Center (11 April 2013)
- The Universe - Ballroom Dance team wins again (7 June 2010)
- The Universe - Ballroom team claims first place in England (2 June 2010)
- The Universe - Team dances across Britain (31 May 2010)
- The Universe - Ballroom company celebrates 50 years in concert (8 April 2010)