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Junior/Secondary Handbook

NHSDA Artistic Merit, Leadership and Academic Achievement Award

What is the Award and who can apply?

Students who are in 11th or 12th grade and who have been inducted into their school’s NHSDA chapter can apply for the annual NHSDA Artistic Merit, Leadership and Academic Achievement Award, the highest student dance award in the nation.

What types of awards will be given?

There are two levels of adjudication: State and National. At the state level the top applicants are selected to receive a state award (in states where NDEO has a State Affiliate). At the national level, NDEO awards a National Winner, 2 Finalists and several Honorable Mentions. All student award recipients will receive a letter of congratulations, a certificate, and mention on the NHSDA website. $1000 monetary award/scholarship for the National Winner and $250 monetary award/scholarship for the 2 Finalists

What are the award criteria?

The NHSDA Artistic Merit, Leadership and Academic Achievement Award selection process assesses applicants on the basis of artistic and technical excellence in dance, leadership, and academic achievement. For a full review of the award criteria and the application process, please see the separate Scholarship page on the NHSDA website. The applicants are judged in three main categories with each category carrying equal weight:

Artistic Merit

The Nominee must demonstrate artistic and technical excellence in dance.

  • Technical excellence as seen in video
  • Artistic Merit as seen in video
  • Essay #1: Choreography - What was the intent of your original choreography? Please provide the title of work, inspiration, and any challenges you encountered in the choreographic process. (Limit 250 words)


The Nominee must demonstrate outstanding leadership in and outside of the field of dance at the school, community, state, and/or national level.

  • Recommendation Letter
  • Resume
  • Essay #2: Impact of Dance on Life - What impact has dance had on your life, in and out of the studio? How do you plan to use this influence in the future to have an impact on other people and communities? (Limit 500 words)

Academic Achievement

The Nominee must demonstrate academic excellence with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

  • Overall school GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Transcript (official or unofficial) 
  • Grammar and Writing Style - Based on Essay #1 and Essay #2

What is the application process? What is the deadline?

The award information is available in the fall. The applicant will complete an online application via the Accept'd web platform and be required to upload several essays, a headshot, a video, a resume and a recommendation letter. There is a $15 application fee. The application deadline is typically during the first couple months of the new year.

How is the scholarship funded?

The NHSDA Artistic Merit, Leadership, and Academic Achievement award is funded through generous donations to the NDEO Works! fund. NDEO hopes to increase both the amount of the award and the number of scholarships in coming years as we receive increased donations. To make a contribution to the award fund today, donate to the NDEO Works! Fund, and note in the comments that you would like your donation put toward the NHSDA Award fund.