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2022 National Award Winners

2022 National Award Winners

NDEO celebrates the following 11 National Award Winners in 2022.  These individuals have been selected from a two part application process, and were adjudicated by our Awards Committee

View the 2022 Virtual National Awards Ceremony Recording Below

Sandra Rivera - Lifetime Achievement
Sandra Rivera is a dancer, choreographer, educator, and writer. Drawing on experience as a founding member of Ballet Hispanico and her training from Tina Ramirez, she wrote Spanish Dance in New York City’s Puerto Rican Community, published in 2021 for the journal Dance Index. She is a member of the dance collective, ColectivXs, which presented her film Zemi 2, Remembering Hurricane Maria in their production of Toward a Latinx Practice. Since 1990 she has choreographed and performed contemporary dances that incorporate diverse Latino dance forms, including folkloric, social and flamenco dance. Over a 20-year span she directed Bailes del Pueblo in East Harlem, a dance program that explores the culture, history and literature of the Latinx community. Her educational work with BH included providing foundational content for their outreach program, Primeros Pasos. She continues her association consulting on their Spanish dance curriculum. Since 2018 she has centered her work with seniors as a member of Dances For A Variable Population. Through their auspices she has been awarded a grant from the Creatives Rebuild New York Artist Employment Program. Since 2019 she has been lecturing and leading workshops on Spanish dance in a variety of educational venues. With an area of concentration, Dance in the Latino Diaspora, she graduated with a BA from CUNY’S Baccalaureate for Unique & Interdisciplinary Studies.

Julie Adams Strandberg - Lifetime Achievement
Dancer, educator, historian Julie Adams Strandberg is distinguished senior lecturer emerita at Brown University and was founding director of dance from 1969-2022 in the department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies. In 1971, she co-founded the Rhode Island Repertory Company and has directed for college and professional theater. In 1973, she co-founded The Harlem Dance Foundation with her parents, Julius J. and Olive A. Adams and her sister, Carolyn Adams. With Carolyn she co-founded Dancing Legacy, which develops and implements programs and materials that make dance accessible to all. They co-authored “American Education and the Arts” (1993) and “Dancing through the Curriculum: A Guide to Dance Videotapes Created and Designed to Enrich the School Curriculum” (1997). In 2013 she co-founded Artists and Scientists as Partners to design and implement programs in dance for people with neurological disorders. She received the Charles Sullivan Pell Award for Distinguished Service in the Arts from Trinity Rep Company and the Susan Colver Rosenberger Medal for “specially notable or beneficial achievement” from Brown University. She holds a BA from Cornell University and an MS from Bank Street College of Education. When not dancing, she enjoys family adventures with her husband, daughters, son-in-law, and grandsons.

Mary Alice Brennen - Lifetime Achievement (Posthumous)
Mary Alice Brennan was professor emerita of the Department of Dance at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she had been on the faculty since 1967. During those years she chaired the dance program on three separate occasions. She fully supported and championed the work of Margaret H'Doubler and helped Madison with its dance education program as well as other innovative programs. She co-coordinated the first International Dance and Technology Conference in 1992 and was one of five arts faculty who developed the new Interarts and Technology degree program at the UW-Madison. During 1993-1995 she served as a member of the Dance Task Force that developed the National Standards for Dance in Education. Buff grew up in Oak Park, IL, a suburb of Chicago. She began her teaching career at Rosary College in River Forest, IL, where she was head of the Department of Physical Education for eight years. In 1966 she came to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she ultimately received both a Master's degree and a Ph.D. in Dance. She also became certified in movement analysis through the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies in New York in 1983. Her scholarly articles on creativity in dance and the movement analysis of dance have appeared in numerous journals, such as the Journal of Creative Behavior, the Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, and Perceptual Motor Skills. In 1985 she was named the National Dance Association Scholar. Twice she was a Fulbright Scholar to India.

Dr. Brennan was also a prolific contributor to the growth of dance as a field. She reviewed grants for the Wisconsin Arts Board for five years, was on the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission, and the National Commission on National Dance Education Standards. She consulted on dance curriculum guidelines for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. She was president of the Board of Directors of the Hancock Center for Dance/Movement Therapy from 2010 to 2013. She received the National Dance Association Presidential Award for Service in 1993, the Wisconsin Dance Council Research and Journalism Award in 1996, and the National Dance Association Award for Contributions to the Field of Dance Technology in 1999. Buff often acknowledged that she had been born and raised during an extraordinary time of the twentieth century - a time which allowed her to live a wonderful life of dancing, teaching, researching, and traveling around the world.

Dr. Ofosuwa Abiola - Outstanding Dance Education Researcher

Dr. Ofosuwa Abiola has a PhD in African history with a specialization in African dance history and has taught Dance History at Howard University since 2013. In February 2022, Abiola was appointed the inaugural Associate Dean of Research and Creative Endeavors in the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts at Howard. To address gaps in the narrative and facilitate her instruction of dance history, Abiola has published several books including, Fire Under My Feet: History, Race and Agency in African Diaspora Dance; History Dances: Chronicling the History of Traditional Mandika Dance; and Historical Perspectives on Dance in Africa. Abiola was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Fellowship and a Council of American Overseas Research Centers (COARC) Fellowship to travel to Africa to conduct research for her current book project, Unwitting Witnesses: Unearthing African Dance in Pre-Colonial Logs. She is the founding Editor-in-Chief of the peer-reviewed digital journal, Evoke: Am Historical, Theoretical, and Cultural Analysis of Africana Dance and Theatre. In addition to fellowships she was awarded several grants including a $100,000 NEH grant, as well as grants from the Department of Education, among others. Abiola was appointed the interim Chair of the Department of Theatre Arts from 2020 to 2022. Her numerous awards include: a Deans Cabinet Award (Howard University, 2022), the Mary Ellen Lane Award for the top-ranked research proposal for a book project (2020), the Outstanding Assistant Professor Award (Howard University, 2017), Outstanding Student Advisement Award (Howard University, 2017), Special Commendation (Office of the Mayor, DC), Excellence in the Arts Award (Virginia Arts Association), the Master Folk Artist Award (VFH), among others. Abiola has been featured in arts journals, magazines, newspapers, online articles, and broadcast TV.


Frederick Curry - Outstanding Leadership (Justice, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion)

Frederick Curry is an Associate Professor of Professional Practice in the Dance Department at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University. His scholarship focuses on equity-informed dance pedagogy and somatic practices, on which he has led workshops and presented at conferences internationally including in Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, South Korea, Switzerland, Uganda, the United Kingdom, and throughout the United States. Frederick has served on the Board of Directors of NDEO, as Assistant Editor for Dance Education in Practice journal, and was a founding member of the NDEO Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Access Committee.


He has served on the faculty at the Dance Education Laboratory at the 92nd Street Y, NYU Steinhardt, and as coordinator for the modular certification program at the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies. Frederick is a Polestar Pilates Educator and a National Pilates Certification Program Commissioner.

At Rutgers, he has served as Director of the EdM Program in Dance Education, Interim Chair of Dance, and as Director of the Rutgers Polestar Pilates Teacher Training Program.

Aquila Kikora Franklin - Outstanding Leadership (Justice, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion)

Aquila Kikora Franklin is a Professor of Theatre/Dance and the Associate Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for the Penn State School of Theatre where she teaches courses including Intro to West African Dance, Hip Hop Theatre/Dance, jazz, and Mojah dance. Franklin has performed, choreographed, and taught in cities across the globe including Linz, Austria, Grahamstown, South Africa, Dakar, Senegal, Minas Gerais, Brazil, throughout China, Europe, and the United States. Franklin has choreographed and performed for the Atlanta Hawks Dance Team, Grammy Award Winning group, Arrested Development, and renowned poet, Sonia Sanchez. Franklin’s creative work focuses on teaching and presenting the Mojah dance technique, an original style that fuses modern, jazz, and West African movement into one form. As a community artist, Franklin shares her passion for dance and culture with students of all ages as the co-founder and artistic director of Roots of Life Performing Arts Ensemble, an arts education program housed in the State College Area School District. Roots of Life is comprised of 4th-12th grade students who engage in weekly dance and drum workshops and perform throughout central Pennsylvania. Franklin’s greatest joy is spending time with her three children, Khari, Gyasi, and Lila Afi, and husband, Wendell.


Rebecca McGregor - Outstanding Leadership (K-12)

Rebecca McGregor has a Secondary License in Dance, BS in Exercise Science, and Master’s in Education. In 2003, she developed Lyndon Institute’s dance program, the annual Vermont State Dance Festival, and added a NHSDA chapter in 2021. She helps the VT Agency of Education with dance standards, licensing, and advocacy. She is an arts education mentor for the state of Vermont and has been volunteering with NDEO’s mentorship committee since 2017. Rebecca has presented for Northeastern University’s NExT Professional Learning Conversations and received numerous awards: Youth Impact Award, VAHPERD's Dance Educator of the Year Award, David Dwyer Teacher of the Year, and a Presidential Award from the National Dance Education Organization for her service to the Mentorship Committee. This past year, Rebecca served her greater Vermont community in the Vermont Leadership Institute. Her core values are honor and integrity. Her mission is to create opportunities to honor self and others and build integrity through courageous moments.


Suchi Branfman Outstanding Leadership (Higher Education)
SUCHI BRANFMAN, choreographer/curator/performer/educator/activist, has worked from the war zones of Managua to Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre and Kampala’s Luzira Prison to NYC’s Joyce Theatre. From studio to stage, her work strives to create an embodied terrain grounded in storytelling, dialogue, listening and action. Branfman is in year six of a ten-year choreographic residency inside a medium security state men’s-prison in Norco, California. She is Artistic Director of the multi-faceted Dancing Through Prison Walls project, choreographing and curating performance, film, and written works in deep collaboration with current and formerly incarcerated movers, including the recent project “Undanced Dances Through Prison Walls During a Pandemic.” Her writing has been published by The Nation, The Dancer-Citizen, Dance Education in Practice and Sming Sming Press. Branfman serves on faculty at Scripps College, where she strives for an inclusive pedagogy that democratizes the studio, developing courses including Choreographing Our Stories, Dancing Social Justice, and Choreographing Women’s Lives.

Recent awards include City of Los Angeles Master Artist Fellowship (2022), The Mary W. Johnson Faculty Achievement Award for Excellence in Teaching and Research (2021-22 and 2020-21), The Art of Recovery Award from the City of Santa Monica (2020-21.) Branfman is also a community gardener and prison abolition activist.

Yvonne Racz Key - Ourstanding Leadership (Independent Sector)
Yvonne Racz Key is the artistic director of Ballet Lubbock and Dance faculty at Texas Tech University. She holds an MFA from Texas Tech University and a BA from the University of Utah. She is a member of the Institute of Inclusive Excellence at TTU and a School of American Ballet Visiting Fellow 2021-22. She is Functional Awareness® and Anatomy in Action educator and has presented on inclusive teaching practices at conferences such as (ATHE) Association of Theater Education, (MoBB) Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet, (DSA) Dance Studies Association and CORPS de Ballet International. Yvonne’s professional career includes Maryland Ballet, Desrosiers Dance Theatre, Urban Ballet Theatre, Ballet Hispanico of N.Y, and Cirque Du Soleil. Her international guest teaching includes Mexico and Hungary. She is responsible for collaborations with community arts organizations such as Texas Tech, Lubbock Symphony, and commissioned original compositions Ms. Racz has given a TEDx talk on the positive effects of ballet training on young people. Her awards include the Arts Alliance Dynamic Force ACE award, YWCA’s Woman of Excellence in Culture, and the LHUCA Performing Arts Award; Yvonne’s artistic direction promotes cultural vibrancy and inclusive representation through performances, curriculum, representation in the faculty, and dance history education.

Michelle Isaac - Outstanding Dance Educator (Independent Sector - Emerging)
Michelle Isaac was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She began dancing at the age of 4 in church, and started formal training in high school at Dr. Susan S McKinney Secondary School of the Arts, under the direction of Zakiya Harris. Michelle received her BFA in Dance from LIU Post with Honors Recognition in 2015. In 2019, she completed her graduate studies through the Arnhold Graduate Dance Education Program at Hunter College, and graduated Summa Cum Laude with her MA in Dance Education and K-12 NY State Professional Certification.

Michelle is one of the Founders of Ntrinsik Movement and functions as the Artistic Director of the company. With Ntrinsik, she has choreographed several works, produced concerts, hosted community and school workshops through the company’s Dance Residency Program, and has performed in various theaters across NYC, as well as theaters out of state. In 2020, her company launched and opened the doors to their new home in Brooklyn, New York: Ntrinsik Studios. Ntrinsik Studios is the home of the performance company Ntrinsik Movement and their pre-professional program, IFE The Movement. Ntrinsik Studios is dedicated to providing high quality instruction for all ages and levels of dance and functions as a performing arts venue for a diverse array of creatives in the greater NYC area to utilize.

Maguette Camara - Outstanding Dance Educator (Independent Sector - Established)
Maguette Camara is a globally recognized West African dancer, choreographer, teacher and drummer who is based in New York City. Maguette began his career at a young age with The Ballet Bougarabou Dance Company in Dakar, Senegal. His extensive experiences with this company allowed him to perform and present workshops in Morocco, Canada, Senegal, South Korea, Guadeloupe and The United States. His dedication and talent have earned him the opportunity to perform in impressive venues such as the Guggenheim Museum, The American Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Rolling Stones World Tour, Epcot Theme Park at Walt Disney World, The World Trade Center Jazz Festival, the Broadway Performance “Angelique” and the opening act for Senegalese vocalist, Baaba Maal. Maguette’s talents have been praised by The New York Times, The Root TV, Dance Teacher Magazine, The New York Public Library, The Villager, Good Day New York, New York 1 News, Fox 5, NBC and MTV.

Maguette has been a faculty member at The Ailey School and Barnard College since 1997. In addition, he teaches weekly open classes at The Ailey Extension and Djoniba at Peridance Capezio Center for all levels and all ages. Camara is known for his incredible energy and positive demeanor. Maguette’s New York City in-person classes have enjoyed a devoted following at all skill levels. During the Coronavirus outbreak, Camara’s remote live classes reached hundreds of participants from across the globe from France, Germany, Israel, Canada and Australia. “If an educator shows passion for what they do, it can only draw students in,” said Katie Glasner, Assistant Chair and Senior Associate at The Department of Dance at Barnard College. “His absolute unbridled joy for what he does is simply infectious.”