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Behind the Curtain Blog

NDEO's "Behind the Curtain" Blog features articles written by NDEO members about dance and dance education topics as well as periodic updates on NDEO programs and services. This is a FREE resource available to ALL.

by Gina D'Antonio-Spears, Dance Educator, Portage Park Elementary, Chicago Public Schools ~~ When I first began teaching in Chicago Public Schools, dance positions were few and far between. One day, I was at a conference and I met this amazing elementary dance teacher. I latched onto her like a lost puppy, asked if we could have lunch together, and *boom* I had a mentor. Suddenly I was not alone in my work, no longer teaching dance in a bubble. Over the years she advised me and inspired me, ...
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by Betsy Maloney Leaf, PhD, MFA, Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota ~~ The following blog was written by NDEO member Betsy Maloney-Leaf. She is proposing a new Special Interest Group for Teacher Trainers in Dance Education, the educators who prepare the next generation of dance teachers. We at NDEO recognize and support the need to bring this group of dance educators together to cultivate support and leadership within our community. This blog sets forth why our community needs this spe...
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By Shelby Bensinger, NDEO Program Coordinator ~~ In dance performing arts organizations, creativity and passion come together to uplift communities and celebrate cultural diversity. These institutions serve as beacons of artistic expression, providing accessible avenues for individuals of all backgrounds to engage with the transformative power of dance. From local dance companies dedicated to preserving traditional folk dances to urban youth ensembles empowering underserved communities, each org...
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By Shannon Dooling-Cain, NDEO Special Projects ~~ When you think about honor societies, the first thing that might come to mind is student recognition: honor cords and induction ceremonies, mentions on resumés and framed certificates. Student recognition is indeed an important part of the mission of the National Honor Society for Dance Arts (NHSDA), a program of the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO). Our mission goes beyond celebrating outstanding artistic merit, leadership, and acade...
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To kick off our Performing Arts Organization Blog Series, this post focuses on one of our institutional NDEO members, The Misty Copeland Foundation. The Misty Copeland Foundation was established in 2021. In an engaging conversation on The Heart of Giving Podcast, Misty Copeland and Executive Director, Caryn Campbell, discuss The Misty Copeland Foundation’s journey and contributions to the dance field. This blog post delves into the background of The Misty Copeland Foundation and their initiativ...
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By Krista Brown, Freelance Teaching Artist ~~ Many veteran teachers know the voice that springs up when there is a lull in learning choreography. As I am scrolling through notes, if ever there is a quiet moment I often hear “we could…” or “what about this…” In my early years of teaching, I’d shoo it away and say, “that’s a nice idea” and proceed with my choreography notes. Whether this is how I feel the classroom is best managed, I think rests on something beyond just expectation setti...
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by Krista Brown, Freelance Teaching Artist ~~ Traditional classrooms have this ability with their constructed spaces dedicated to learning and transition between multiple subjects during the entire day. Dance teachers don’t possess this in most cases. As a freelance teacher, I shift from space to space with totally different students. There is a solution that has brought me this relationship I crave as well as a focused attention from my students: my fuzzy little friend, talking tomato. This...
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By Ella Rosewood, Crelata® Founder & CEO ~~ Most K-12 students don’t have access to dance education. If students are lucky enough to have a dance teacher at their school, the classes that are available are often restricted to the teacher’s personal knowledge. This means that the small subsection of students in public schools with access to dance education may only get lessons in a few dance styles...
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By Nancy Romita and Allegra Romita ~~ In many forms of dance the breath support for movement is not an integral part of training. It is not perceived to be important in the same manner that stretching, strengthening, and balance warrant focus. Little coaching and training time addresses breath support in most Western dance forms. We propose breath support is at the heart of expressivity and artistry in movement phrasing.Teachers may verbally coach students to hold the abdomen in so tightly the a...
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By Pascal Rekoert, Assistant Professor and Dance Education Program Director at Central Connecticut State University ~~ As teachers, we spend endless time lesson planning, pondering the needs and joys of our students, and looking into our proverbial crystal ball. This process prioritizes our direct future, but what about the life learnings we implicitly share with our students? What about the distant future, the professional legacy we leave behind? My summer was a period laden with loss and—i...
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By Christine Mazeppa, Adjunct Professor of Dance at University of Miami ~~ As an avid reader and writer who has spent the last eighteen years teaching dance and language arts to high school students, I have long been fascinated by the effects of language and literature on movement. The connection between the two subjects is so present for me that it is often difficult to teach one subject without drawing from the other. My approach to teaching dance is much the same way I would teach my language...
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By Gina D'Antonio-Spears, Dance Educator, Portage Park Elementary, Chicago Public Schools ~~ When I was growing up in Raleigh NC back in the 1980’s, I did not discover that dance was taught in K-12 schools until I started high school. When I began high school, I learned that our prestigious magnet school offered dance, and I knew I had to go there. I was surrounded by high achieving students who wanted to become doctors and lawyers, but the reason I was there was because I wanted to dance. ...
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By Wendy Masterson, MSME/T, RSDE, MFA ~~ The similarity yet diversity of our experiences with cancer helped us to clarify that our pathways were neither right nor wrong, sometimes based on fear, but always with the potential to deepen intrinsic knowledge of our selves. Our experiences acted as a catalyst in exploring the effects of cancer on people who identify themselves through their ability to move and express themselves through that movement. Cancer diagnosis was only the first step of many ...
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By Ruth Arena, Adjunct Professor at Le Moyne College and Faculty at The Ballet & Dance Center ~~ Dancers strive to listen, respond, explore, and seek deeper understanding of the mysterious connection between the physical and mental/emotional/spiritual self. For most, this connection is porous, constantly fluctuating as self-knowledge increases. My cancer diagnosis presented new learning opportunities and forced me to delineate between body and mind in order to communicate with others: doctors, f...
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By Alyssa Thostesen, Dance Facilitator, Arts Access Program at Matheny ~~ From accepting identities outside of the gender binary to celebrating diverse body shapes, abilities, and aesthetics, the dance world has been slowly embracing the idea of otherness in studios and performance. We, as a community, have taken major steps towards inclusion since the early years of codified dance that were fixated on appearance and sought perfection found in the ideal dancer physique through years of exploring...
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