Please Wait a Moment

2022 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.


Cheryl Marshall - Tap

Beverly’s Dance of Gardendale (AL)


Dominic Roberts Modern / Contemporary

Atlantic County Institute of Technology (NJ)

Madeline Golingo  Modern / Contemporary

All That Dance (WA)

Olivia Theard  Modern / Contemporary

California School of the Arts - San Gabriel Valley (CA)


Alisha Edwards  Modern / Contemporary

Edison High School (NJ)

Courtney Saffold  Modern / Contemporary

OCVTS-Performing Arts Academy (NJ)

Emma Jane Zaher  Modern / Contemporary

South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities (SC)

Gabriela Scheele  Modern / Contemporary

Somerset Arts Conservatory (FL)

James Oldham  Modern / Contemporary

Franklin High School (TN)

Keely Davidson  Tap

Elite Dance Academy, Inc. (AL)

Liv Klingler  Modern / Contemporary

Appomattox Regional Governor's School for the Arts and Technology (VA)

Luciano Olivieri  Modern / Contemporary

Osceola County School for the Arts (FL)

Miniaris Montanez Modern / Contemporary

St. Thomas Aquinas High School (FL)

Nicole Espinel Modern / Contemporary

Miami Arts Charter School (FL)

Noria Nuru  Modern / Contemporary

Akron School for the Arts at Firestone High School (OH)

Choreography of Winner and Finalists

Winner - Cheryl Marshall - Beverly's Dance of Gardendale (AL)

This piece, Embodied Cognition, is meant to be an educational, multi-disciplinary work. It creates a visual to a psychology concept that we cannot see to help people understand it better.
Embodied cognition and its relation to art is the process by which we relate to and feel transcended to another place by viewing art in person. When we perform an action, our neurons flow outward to allow us to do it. When we take in information, our neurons travel inward, so we can understand what we are perceiving. The special thing about viewing art in person is that our neurons travel bidirectionally truly immersing the viewer. In my piece, if you will imagine every sound as a neuron, you can see toes and heels rapidly moving left, right, up, down, and corner to corner. My body and arms are flung into the air, onto the ground, and find the center as well.
Simultaneously, I hope to cause my viewers to undergo this process because dance is a medium of art. A dancer can create a deep connection with their audience and can cause them to leave viewing the world around them differently. Tap dance has one more element that encapsulates one’s attention, and that is the music it creates. Engaging sight and sound, embodied cognition is shown and taught, while helping you to experience it.

Finalist - Dominic Roberts - Atlantic County Institute of Technology (NJ)

The intent of the choreography was to portray the African American experience through a young black man's perspective. What inspired me to choreograph this dance was a study by Margaret Spencer, a student from the University of Chicago. She conducted a study to see if children from three to five years of age had racial attitudes towards black or white children. She would show the kids a card, the card had a black and a white child. She asked the question, “Here are two girls. One is a good girl. Which one would you say is the good girl?’’ Both black and white children chose the white child on the card 70 to 80 percent of the time, meaning that most of these children think that black skin correlates to negative connotations. During our youth, adults see children as innocent. When black boys become adults, some of society will look at us as negative images, that we’re guilty of something. In the dance, I portray this experience, being held guilty because of my melanated skin. This is why I title this dance “Innocent/Guilty’’. While choreographing, I had a hard time finding music. I wanted the music to be mellow, yet my movement is sharp and rigged, to help carry the narrative of the choreography which helped this artistic process. I used improvisation frequently while choreographing so it would be more artistically authentic and from the heart, to just let my body take over what I'm feeling.

Finalist - Madeline Golingo - All That Dance (WA)

We move through life rapidly, not looking back, only forward. The constant flow of life has hardships, joy, love, and fights to keep going. It doesn’t stop. How can we slow down when everything is accelerating around us? How do we establish control in the perpetual motion of life that never waits for us. I chose to title my piece “Interval” as it reflects the moments of breath that we experience in the flow of life. I hope to reflect my journey of recognizing my need for pause and breath. Through my choreographic process, I felt as if my body were in the ocean. The beginning phrase is representative of hardships we face in life that crash down on us like waves. My use of speed and repetition demonstrate the constant flow of life as it accelerates. Using hand gestures, I establish a sense of letting go in addition to the idea of grasping for breath. Throughout my choreographic process, I was challenged by my inner critic. My thoughts were racing a mile a minute, and I nearly broke down while reflecting on the intensity of my personal journey. Ultimately, my emotional connection to the piece was my driving force. The motion of life may keep going forward; still, I’ve found that I have my own capacity to endure, to persevere in the storm, to laugh in the rain, to breathe in the silence, to pause.

Finalist - Olivia Theard - California School of the Arts - San Gabriel Valley (CA)

How do you create something that feels like yourself when you don’t even know what that is? This piece is called “Upbringing.”

I grew up on complex beats and innate rhythm through my Haitian family. As such a contrast to that, ballet has always been a love, but I don’t think it’s ever quite been a home. In all its teachings about how to appear weightless, I’ve lost some of my ability to be grounded. 

This piece is about how it’s okay to grow new branches from established roots, but that it’s also okay to come back. I have had two dance upbringings; one, through the rhythms of kitchen dance parties, and the other with my hand at the barre. While creating this piece, I wanted to learn from the passions that grew out of both of those things through my discovery of modern dance. Through quiet disquietude, center-of-the-room musings, frantic Horton, tiptoeing ballet, and exhausted self-assurance, all set to music with sharp contrasts, I wanted to portray this journey to discovery that feels sometimes sinuous but never smooth. Moving with the music, I was intentional while creating the piece to understand that the mind can be quiet while the body is not, and vice versa. This piece is an ode to a cultural journey through dance, which, in different ways, has always felt like home. I may not yet know who I am; however, movement gives me an outlet to explore different avenues and meanings.