Maria C. Schaeffer, 37, an administrator for the Repertory Dance Theatre from 1979-83 and former director of administration and vice president for the Sundance Institute, died Wednesday in Palo Alto, Calif. She had been hospitalized for complications of lymphoma at Stanford University Hospital.

She served as director of development and general manager of RDT before moving to Sundance in 1984. At the time of her death she was general manager for Hyperion Entertainment, an independent film production company based in Los Angeles, where she was associate producer of two upcoming Hyperion films. She held a master of arts degree in arts administration from the University of Utah.Linda C. Smith, artistic director of RDT, remembers Ms. Schaeffer as a person "who handled every situation with dignity, grace and aplomb. She was very organized and at the same time had a wonderfully fresh and optimistic view of the world."

She was born Dec. 4, 1953, in St. Louis, Mo., to George and Rita Schaeffer. Her parents preceded her in death. She is survived by three brothers and two sisters.

Friends are planning a memorial Saturday from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Salt Lake Acting Company, 168 W. 500 North. The family suggests memorial contributions to S'PLORE, 699 E. South Temple, No. 120, a non-profit outdoor recreational program for individuals with disabilities.