Please Wait a Moment

2020 NHSDA Award

Junior and Senior high school students who have been inducted into the National Honor Society for Dance Arts are eligible to apply for this award, one of the highest dance honors program in the US. Candidates for the award must excel in all three categories:

  • Artistic Merit: The candidate demonstrates technical and artistic excellence in dance as evidenced by performing original choreography and submitting an essay describing the intent, inspiration and challenges of their choreography.
  • Leadership: The candidate demonstrates outstanding leadership in and outside the field of dance at the school, community, state, and/or national level as evidenced by a strong resume, recommendation letter and impact of dance essay
  • Academic Achievement: The candidate demonstrates academic excellence with a high cumulative grade point average and superior writing skills found in both submitted essays.

To see read about their choreography and see their solos, scroll down.


Gabrielle Erickson

Desert Hills High School (UT)


Jayla Froggatt

Northern Guildford High School (NC)

Morgan Olschewske

The Florida Ballet Conservatory (FL)


Megan Bader

Apex Friendship High School (NC)

Anna Binkley

Centre for Dance and the Performing Arts (FL)

Jacqueline Boutilier

Infinity Dance Academy (NY)

Ryan Jaffe

Dreyfoos School of the Arts (FL)

Alexandra Lund

Dellos Performing Arts Center (CA)

Kimora Miller

Somerset Arts Conservatory (FL)

Stephany Santiago

County Prep High School (NJ)

Katrina Schneider

Ridge High School (NJ)

Aniyah Stokes

Farmington High School (MI)

Anna Taravella

Spotlight Dance Works (MI)

Choreography of Winner and Finalists

Winner - Gabrielle Erickson - Desert Hills High School (UT)

The title of my piece is “Pathways of Uncertainty.” When I considered choreographing this piece, I was two months into my Senior year. I was thrilled, anxious, and confused all at once. It seemed like everyone around me had their lives “figured out.” They knew where they wanted to go to college, what they wanted to study, and how to go about it. I on the other hand felt utterly confused and felt too immature to make the significant decisions that are required of emerging adults. In some instances, though, I was decisive. I knew what I wanted but I didn’t know how to get there. I’ve learned that sometimes plans can be set off course, destinations can be postponed, and intentions can be rearranged. It’s frustrating to feel stuck while others breeze past you, isn’t it? This is what drove my concept “Pathways of Uncertainty.” First, I identified the actual pathway of my solo based on my concept. I knew that I would start and end at opposite sides of the stage and that the movement in between would be obstacles to get there. In generating movement, I organized qualities of my concept into the four Elements of Dance: Body, Energy, Space, and Time. I used qualities such as “sudden, uncontrollable, desperate, and inconsistent” to choreograph solo content. I was often hesitant to experiment with certain moves and gestures, but I found that as I cleared my mind, stopped thinking, and just moved, I found the pathway to success.

Finalist - Jayla Froggatt - Northern Guilford High School (NC)

My piece, “The Vices of Technology,’’ showcases mankind’s dependence on technology and how that fixation gradually increases to completely control our lives. This idea presented itself, after a realization that I had about my own phone usage. I often use my phone as a distraction or a way to pass time in uncomfortable situations, to the point where technology encompasses a large portion of my day. My first activity in the morning is through the use of my phone, and this routine increases as the rest of the day progresses. Deciding that I needed to dig deeper into this topic, I tracked the times I picked up my phone during the day in a log. After looking over the log of my phone usage, I came to the realization that the first time I didn’t have my phone on me was actually in dance class. Alongside my own data, I also researched the effects of technology on youth, and concerns about lack of attention span, physical activity, sleep, and reduction of interpersonal interactions all came up as serious problems. As I began to choreograph, I kept these ideas in mind, portraying technology as a big distraction from everyday functions. I edited the music to encompass sounds a phone would display and fit that with common movement like checking a phone for notifications and constantly seeking its presence. This piece inspired me to really think critically about how much I use my phone overall, during the day.

Finalist - Morgan Olschewske - The Florida Ballet Conservatory (FL)

The intent of my choreography was born out of a place of boredom and frustration with my everyday routine. I find myself frequently struggling to balance organization and spontaneity within my life, so I strived to create a piece that felt fresh and experimental every time I danced it. This became my inspiration throughout the creative process, and it continues to inspire me throughout my ongoing journey with dance. One particular obstacle that I constantly encounter in improvisation and choreography alike is my instinctual, repetitive movement patterns. There are ways that I am comfortable moving, that can be difficult for me to break out of. While creating, I allowed these comfortable pathways to become a representation of my day-to-day routine that had become stale. Resisting my urge to choreograph what felt natural correlated to bringing more light-hearted, spontaneous activities into my life. When I finished the piece, I realized I not only created something that felt uniquely pure, like nothing I had ever created before, but I had also made strides towards living a more exciting life, filled with joy. I decided to title my work, "Peace of Mind," because that is what this project ultimately brought me. This was the first time I felt my own creative mind take a hold on my life and change it for the better! I look back on this experience with a full heart and refreshed mind.