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Behind the Curtain

It All Starts With A Dance Teacher - And You!
By Susan McGreevy-Nichols
Posted on 6/14/2018 1:15 PM

Tyler takes his first step onto the stage...And It All Started With A Dance Teacher.
Eric finds out he was accepted to college...And It All Started With A Dance Teacher.
Melinda pilots the plane down the runway...And It All Started With A Dance Teacher.
Whitley makes her own way as an educator...And It All Started With A Dance Teacher.

For these and millions of other students, success in and out of the dance studio starts with a dance teacher. When you donate to NDEO, you support those often unsung teachers who make tremendous impact on the lives of their students, and you ensure that the next generation of students will have access to the quality dance education that can make all the difference in their lives.

Help NDEO raise $10,000 for our Professional Development Scholarship Fund this spring. With your support, we will double the number of scholarship offered and increase the value of each for 2019 and beyond. Your donation will directly benefit dance teachers who demonstrate both professional merit and financial need, and help them have a lasting impact on students like Tyler, Eric, Melinda, and Whitley.


Tyler's Story

“Dance has transformed all aspects of my life. My family even says, that they have seen a difference in my overall mood since beginning this journey. Dance has taught me the importance of courage, passion, and hard work. If you do anything with the courage to make mistakes, the passion to go beyond the norm and the hard work to push through a rough patch, you will succeed in dance and in life.” - Tyler Detrick, Student at West Virginia University

Eric's Story
“I began to study dance as a newly enrolled student at County Prep High School, without any training beforehand. I didn’t understand the massive impact it would have on my life at the time - all due to my first dance teacher Heather Warfel Sandler. Dance became my golden ticket to university. The art instilled in me a passion that was infectious, a curiosity that was insatiable and put me on a conveyor belt I didn’t know existed; ultimately bringing me to parts of the world I had only read about, dancing on stages I’ve only seen as an audience member, and leading me to my beautiful dancer wife.” -
Eric Ortega, Line Producer at NBC News and Choreographer at In Motion Dance Co.  

Melinda's Story
"When I showed up to my first interview with an airline, they asked me why I have dance all over my resume. I told them that it is because of my dance classes that I should be a pilot. If I can do several pirouettes, I can spin an airplane. The same thing that keeps you spotting is what keeps an airplane safe. Flying is an art form. It is an aerial dance. You can't be a pilot with just smarts. You can't fly airplanes by numbers, but by kinesthetic awareness."  -Melinda Siligo, Airline Pilot

Whitley's Story
Choreography takes long rehearsals, analyzing, revisiting, keeping what works, and discarding what doesn't. Commitment to that process, paired with acceptance, has increased my self-confidence and self-identity. It informs the way that I show up and prepare for opportunities that I want, maintain consistent effort in my academic studies so that I can transmute my knowledge to practice, and honor people and ideas that are not like my own without feeling intimidated or needing to defend my own perspective. I am much more confident navigating life decisions and facing conflict without dishonoring those around me. Dance teaches me to be grounded in myself." - Whitley Nicole Green, Graduate Student at New York University

It All Starts With A Dance Teacher ...

Research and anecdotal evidence indicates that dance, when taught by a qualified dance educator, contributes to students’ physical, emotional, and social well-being by providing a form of physical fitness, an outlet for personal expression, and a means to develop empathy and social-emotional skills. Students who study dance acquire 21st century skills such as collaboration, communication, and creativity, and dance has been shown to positively affect students’ attitudes, perceptions, and values. When integrated into the PreK-12 curriculum, dance keeps students engaged in school, enhances learning when integrated into academic subjects, and improves overall school culture. Whether students go on to become professional dancers or apply their skills in other fields, they owe it all to the person who supported their interest, guided their training, and encouraged their dreams … It All Starts With A Dance Teacher!

From The Teacher's Perspective

“Studying dance has a huge impact on the lives of my students, ranging from time management with my teens to self-confidence with my three year olds. Studying dance helps the youngest students develop coordination and body awareness, learn to share, communicate with someone beyond caregivers. Older students can experience dance as an outlet, a safe place, and a way to develop positive self-image and self-esteem as they leave their negativity and fear on the dance floor. The parents of my students tell me all the time that dance has taught their kids life skills and healthy habits that will last a lifetime!”
- Ashley Dowling, Artistic Director/Owner of the Alton Dance Academy, Alton, NH

“My dancers at the high school are so appreciative to have dance as an arts elective where they can get out of their desks and into their bodies. Moving during the day awakens them in different ways – mind, body, soul connections. They love the time to be creative, to learn movement and to connect with their friends in dance in a way they don’t any other time of the day. They take the skills of creativity, collaboration, cooperation learned in the dance studio out into the world. They take the creative problem solving skills they hone in dance into other subject areas and situations. It brings them joy. I see them smiling in class dancing, and I know we have a great purpose with dance in our curriculum.”
-Mary Anne Herding, Xavier College Prep, Phoenix, AZ

It All Starts With A Dance Teacher...And NDEO!

Too often, dance teachers do not have access to the resources they need to provide a quality dance education for their students. In PreK-12 schools, dance programs are often underfunded, and teachers must continually fight for dance to be recognized as an important part of the school curriculum. Dance teachers in all environments are often undervalued and underpaid, as the dance field lacks the funding and prestige of other art forms. They lack resources needed to advance their careers, such as professional development. They must un-learn and work against traditional teaching practices that can lead to student injury or emotional damage. They frequently work in isolation, as the only dance teacher in their school or only studio in their community. They are so often unseen and unrecognized, working tirelessly for their students’ success behind the scenes.

For 20 years, the National Dance Education Organization has been there to support dance educators, so that they in turn can change their students’ lives through dance education. We provide:

  • Research that legitimizes the field of dance, demonstrates the benefits of dance education, and provides the foundation for teaching methods that are safe and effective for students of all ages, skill levels, and dance environments

  • Advocacy efforts that promote equity and access to a quality dance education for all students, by working to increase the number dance programs in public schools and assisting states with teacher credentialing

  • Professional Development that is affordable, accessible, and helps dance teachers improve their teaching and advance their careers, including online course and in-person conferences

  • Opportunities for networking, publication, leadership, and recognition through awards and scholarships, helping dance educators create connections and advance their careers

  • Student Programs, including the National Honor Society for Dance Arts, which provide teachers with ways to recognize their students and encourage their growth as artists, scholars, and leaders

Why Do Dance Educators Turn to NDEO?

“NDEO has given us the actual data, the wording, the standards, and the language of how to speak about dance in a way that validates dance for our community and stakeholders.  It’s more in depth language then, ‘Take a dance class because it’s fun and will teach you confidence.’ Dance is so much more than that. We are able to tell our community that dance helps with problem solving skills, creativity, promotes social-emotional skills, health and well-being and activates crucial  areas in the brain. NDEO is our dance advocate!” - Ambre Emory-Maier, Director of Education, BalletMet Columbus in OH, Member since 2004

“NDEO is the single best way to advance teaching and learning practices in dance and to contribute to advocating for what you believe in: quality dance education in the US at all levels.” - Miriam Giguere, Drexel University Department Head in PA, Performing Arts, Member Since 2005

It All Starts With A Dance Teacher...And You!

None of our work on behalf of dance teachers and their students would be possible without your support. Your donations help us provide scholarships for dance educators with financial need to attend our conferences and take our online courses. They, in turn, will bring what they learn back to their students, studios, and schools, creating a broad and lasting impact in their communities.

Who benefits from your donation?

“After living and working overseas for a few years, I was struggling to regain a place in the U.S. dance education landscape. I knew the unique voice and perspective I had gained could be a contribution to the field, but I didn't know how to access the conversation. Years of volunteer work and life on an Egyptian Pound salary had made for an unstable financial situation; the NDEO Professional Development Scholarship was thus a crucial life-line, a way back into the national field. Since attending the NDEO conference last year, I have had a paper on "Inclusion Strategies for Conservative Dancers" accepted to the Journal of Dance Education, spoken at four universities, and have been pushed by my peers to expand my thinking and practice,. As I develop programs and projects, my students see the benefit of advanced design and resources gained through the NDEO network, forums, and more.” - Shawn Lent, Arts Manager, Writer and Educator and Social Practice Dance Artist, Chicago, IL

“At The Aspire Project, our goal is to make dance accessible to all, regardless of financial circumstances, so I was very grateful to receive a Professional Development Scholarship from NDEO to attend the 2017 National Conference, “Cultivating Equity and Access: Dance Education for All.” The workshops focused on injury prevention, somatic practices, creative movement strategies, dance for children with special needs, and race and gender in the field of dance were relevant to my role as an educator and the communities that we work with. I have started to incorporate cross-training and somatic exercises, as well as more creative movement, improvisation, and choreographic exploration exercises to encourage social, intellectual, and emotional development in my students. I am beginning to explore how we might make adjustments to our studio programming to include more diversity in the types of technique that we offer, specifically by hosting workshops in Afro-centric and Eastern dance forms. Overall, the 2017 NDEO Conference broadened my perspective of what dance education can be and how we can reach underserved populations with our art form.” - Ella Matweyou, Program Coordinator & Lead Instructor at The Aspire Project, Portland, OR

Make Your Impact Today!

We need your support, now more than ever. As budgets for school arts programs dwindle, dance is often the first program cut. NDEO is there on the front line, working with states to advocate for dance in their schools. As more emphasis is placed on highly qualified teacher status, dance teachers in particular need access to continuing education. NDEO is there for them, providing conferences and online courses that help teachers advance their careers. As the world of competitive dance becomes more focused on extreme tricks and aggressive training from an early age, teachers need to be aware of teaching practices that are safe and healthy for all students. NDEO provides the research, the professional development, and the support teachers need to discover and implement these practices in their studios. As STEM becomes a primary focus in higher education, university professors need resources to help them advocate for their dance programs. NDEO is there, with the language and tools to help. For every dance teacher, in every branch of the field, and for all of their students, NDEO is there, but only with your support.

Donate today and join with us support to the teachers who make tremendous impact on the lives of their students. Your donation will ensure that the next generation of students will have access to the quality dance education that can make all the difference in the lives.

The Annual Appeal is a program of the Decade of Dance Education, a ten-year campaign designed to raise the profile of dance education centered in the arts, while simultaneously ensuring the growth and development of NDEO for years to come. The mission of this campaign is to raise the awareness and funds needed to build and sustain NDEO in our next era of growth, so that we can best support and advance the field.

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