Colorado State University dance faculty and students engaged with colleagues, dance instructors, educators, and community members at the 2023 National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) Conference. Faculty presenters included Madeline Harvey, Emily Morgan, Grace Gallager, Lisa Morgan, and Andrew Knight. Student and alumni presenters included Caitlynn Doyle (B.S. '22) and Grace Cooper (B.A. '23), with students Ellie Schroeder, Vi Myers, Liam Teagarden, and Jacqueline Urquidez.
The National Dance Education Organization Conference is an annual event that includes three days of workshops, masterclasses, panel and paper presentations, social events, and performances. The 2023 conference titled “Teaching is Leading: Embracing Our Impact & Opportunity as Dance Educators" was held Sept. 28 – Oct. 1, at the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver Colorado.
The National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) describes itself as “a non-profit, membership organization dedicated to advancing dance education centered in the arts for people of all backgrounds. NDEO provides dance artists, educators, and administrators of all backgrounds a network of resources and support, a base for advocacy and research, and access to professional development opportunities that focus on the importance of dance in the human experience.”
Its members are “diverse in age, gender, socioeconomic status, ability, ethnicity, and live in all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and throughout the international community.”
The organization envisions a nation that affords every citizen equal access and opportunity to quality dance arts education regardless of gender, age, race or culture, socio-economic status, ability, or interest. www.ndeo.org
CSU Dance at the conference
CSU Dance participated in eight presentations covering topics ranging from a “collaborative approach to engaged scholarship” and “moving through Parkinson’s” to “dramaturgy for choreographers.”
In addition to current faculty and students, the conference drew CSU alumni. Recent CSU Dance graduate, Gracie Cooper said, “There were over 800 attendees at the opening dinner alone, and I'm sure this didn't include everyone who attended the conference, and who is a member of NDEO. It can be difficult to feel like you are bringing dance and new ideas into different spaces sometimes but seeing that we were all there together to talk about dance was very powerful.”
Dance student, Vi Myers, found the ability to connect with a variety of dance educators inspiring and impactful. “I am already using some of what I learned at the conference in my student teaching and choreography. Beyond the specific activities and strategies, I learned, I have a stronger sense of how I can look at my own pedagogy style and methods critically,” Myers said. They began implementing what they learned within their classes and rehearsals when they returned from the conference.
Myers, along with fellow student Ellie Schroeder, and dance faculty Madeline Jazz Harvey, presented “Leading and Teaching Through Collaborative Research.” Additionally, Myers presented, “Centering Mental Health in a Dance Curriculum” with fellow students, Liam Teagarden, and Jaqueline Urquidez, faculty, Lisa Morgan, and CSU Director of Dance, Emily Morgan.
“It was rewarding to see the ways that other conference attendees responded to my presentations,” Myers said.
Normalizing student presentations
The year Morgan applied for her current position at CSU, she saw a group of students in CSU sweatshirts at the conference, and I thought, “How cool is that; they bring their students to the conference.” Morgan said, “We continued that when I started my position here, but we upped the ante. We wanted to create a culture where presenting at a national conference was normalized, even expected of our dance majors.”
The CSU Dance students were able to attend thanks to funding they received through a Travel Grant from the ASCSU. Dance major, Matt Bishop recorded the request, explaining what it would mean to the CSU Dance students to attend the conference. You can view the request here: CSU Travel Grant Request NDEO
CSU student, Jacqueline Urquidez took away inspiration for "fresh dance piece concepts," and "new styles of dance." Urquidez said, "I loved learning how to incorporate multiple world concepts into dancing and teaching dance as well as being able to present in front of educators. That truly inspired me to understand that students and teachers are constantly learning, and the dance world is forever evolving and growing."
This year, CSU faculty participated in eight different presentations, with students presenting in four of them. Overall it was an impressive feat for a conference where many proposals are not accepted.
“It is beyond thrilling to see our students engaging with experts in our field in this way, and I hope this is only the beginning for them,” Morgan said.
Leading and Teaching Through Collaborative Research:
Description: Vi Myers, Ellie Schroeder, and Madeline Jazz Harvey discuss the process, framework, and benefits of a collaborative approach to engaged scholarship. Undergraduate dance majors provide key insights gained through their leadership in Movement Through Parenthood, a study examining the effect of dance on emotional availability and well-being during pregnancy.
Description: This panel presentation will discuss a pilot dance integration curriculum that centers mental health and social-emotional learning and is rooted in state standards. The collaborative team includes university dance educators, an elementary school psychologist, and dance majors who taught and interned for this burgeoning program. Session attendees will hear multiple perspectives about the planning, implementation, and assessment of the project, which was piloted in spring 2023. In addition, we will share videos and lesson plans so attendees can specifically see how we integrated dance and mental health. In discussing our process, the challenges, and the successes, we will also share our assessment tools and outcomes as well as our plans for the future, as we prepare to adapt the curriculum for additional Title I schools.
Myers noted, “It was especially impactful to meet dance educators who I share identities with (queer, neurodivergent, etc.) because I could see myself and potential future careers in them and their work.”
Leading is Asking: Dramaturgy for Choreographers Grace Cooper
Alumnus, Grace Cooper found the conference reassuring. “The experience reminded me that I have time to figure out my path. I felt in between the students and the professionals, but it was very cool to see and learn with/from so many leaders in our field. It inspired me to continue pursuing this path as something I'm passionate about,” Cooper said.
Description: Attendees are invited to explore a dramaturgical approach to a two-year choreography and research project. Framing the role of a dramaturg as someone who asks, and then explores critical questions to build a thematic, factual, narrative, and aesthetic foundation for a production, attendees will learn how dramaturgy can shape, clarify, and generate choreography. Introducing her research as a step-by-step example, Grace Cooper will demonstrate her dramaturgical approach and the applications of dramaturgy in concert dance for choreographers and instructors. Grace's research centers around the historical play Machinal. Aspects include Evolution: Machinal in Movement, a dual-focus project of a performance piece with an original sound score, and a research portfolio. This is supplemented by choreography created for a second production of Machinal.
Accessible dance for youth on the autism spectrum (Caitlynn Doyle)
Alumna, Caitlynn Doyle, while not a dance major, collaborated with the dance program during her time at CSU. Doyle’s presentation highlighted the conference theme of “embracing impact and opportunity.”
Description: An ever-increasing proportion of children in the United States are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or exhibit autism-like traits. Therefore, the availability of accessible and inclusive community resources needs to expand to support the growing population of children with unique needs and experiences. Participating in community activities, such as dance, can support the health, well-being, and social connectivity of children on the spectrum. This session will explore how research inspired Dance for Me a six-week pilot creative movement program tailored to children on the spectrum. Observations from the program suggest exciting possibilities for dance as an enjoyable and socially engaging activity for this population. I hope that the information found can be used to offer similar experiences to more students!
The conference brought together faculty across disciplines from CSU’s School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. Dr. Andrew Knight, associate professor of Music Therapy co-presented with dance faculty Lisa Morgan on the Moving Through Parkinson program. Dr. Knight directs the Parkinson’s Disease vocal exercise group in collaboration with the Parkinson’s Support Group in Larimer County.
Moving through Parkinson's with Integrated Teaching (Lisa Morgan, and Andrew Knight)
Description: Moving Through Parkinson's is a collaborative and integrative program bringing community members living with Parkinson's together with faculty and students from Colorado State University's Dance, Music Therapy, and Occupational Therapy programs. The synergy and cross-pollination of science and creative practice supports wellness and reveals the value of experiential learning with multiple ages and intentions. The intensive will include an overview of the program, reviewing the dance/movement framework as well as fundamental music therapy theory and practice. We will explore HOW and WHY live music supports movement and empathetic understanding. Participants will explore how we can shift our expectations and roles, and enter into a shared learning process that is inclusive and responsive to who is in the room. These universal tools can transfer to classrooms and/or therapeutic settings.
Co-Creation and Community Engagement through Dance
Continuing the theme of outreach and community engagement, Grace Gallagher, assistant professor of dance, presented on co-creation. Her creative research and engaged scholarship focus on inclusivity, access, and the power of community, specifically related to Dance Education.
Description: This paper presentation will delve into the significance of co-creation in community-engaged scholarship and practice. Drawing on personal experience, the presenter will share tools and strategies for building relationships with community members and creating safe and inclusive spaces for collaboration. The presenter will share examples of successful co-creation in community-engaged dance initiatives and discuss the impact of these projects on both the community and the artists involved, as well as reflect on the lessons learned from these experiences.
CSU faculty and students embraced the conference theme “Teaching is Leading.” In addition to “Centering Mental Health in Dance Curriculum,” Director of Dance, Emily Morgan presented on two additional panels. “The conference is not only an outlet for me to share my work with my peers, but also for me to learn and discuss new and pertinent ideas in our field. I feel more human when I have the opportunity to connect with others who share similar challenges and successes in dance education,” Morgan said.
Dance Education Research (Heather Trommer-Beardslee, Aquila Kikora Franklin, Emily Morgan, Jade Treadwell
Description: An analysis and discussion about the state of NDEO's community regarding dance education research and strategies to demystify research and promote access and collaboration. At the 2022 NDEO Conference, members of the NDEO Research Committee presented on the initiation of a new research survey with the goal of analyzing the current state of dance education research within the NDEO community. In this 2023 session, again led by the NDEO Research Committee, presenters will share an analysis of the 2022 - 2023 NDEO Research Survey results. A group discussion will follow the analysis presentation in order to generate ideas for research support within the organization.
Dance Leaders as 'Role Models' in Higher Education (Neri Torres, Emily J. Morgan, Melissa Melpignano, Stephanie Kobes-Newcomb)
Description: Dance professors in Higher Ed maintain a professional artistic record (as independent artists, company directors, etc.) while experiencing the ongoing shifts in the dance market economy and in neoliberal academia. The expansive artistic and institutional demands require the capacity to engage local communities and manifest a global profile at once. From an institutional perspective, dance leadership looks like the capacity to embody and transmit to students and mentees these adaptive skills. Within this frame, the dance educator functions as a professional artistic and administrative role model, who, while advancing inclusive pedagogies and offering students opportunities for social mobility, shows how to fulfill institutional goals and create sustainable creative ecosystems for local and global communities. This diverse panel of educators discusses their personal leadership experiences.