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Behind the Curtain

Happy Birthday, NDEO!
By Shannon Dooling-Cain
Posted on 3/7/2021 1:00 PM

For 23 years, NDEO has been making an impact - both in the field of dance education, and in the lives of individual dance teachers and their students. Since the inception of our organization, we’ve worked to ensure that every student has equal access to and opportunity to quality dance arts education - and that every dance teacher is equipped with the resources, support, and professional development they need.  

NDEO was voted into existence on March 6, 1998. To celebrate our "birthday,” we've launched a campaign to raise $5,000 to support our Professional Development Scholarships. Your contribution will make an impact, ensuring that dance teachers are well equipped to support their students throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond.

Why should you support NDEO’s Professional Development Scholarships for Dance Teachers?

For millions of students nationwide, success in life starts with the guidance and support of their 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 method of physical fitness, an outlet for personal expression, and a means to develop empathy and social-emotional skills. Students who study dance develop 21st century skills such as collaboration, communication, and creativity, and dance has been shown to positively affect students’ attitudes, perceptions, and values. 

Too often, dance teachers do not have access to the resources they need to provide a quality dance education for their students. They are often undervalued and underpaid, as the dance field lacks the funding and prestige of other art forms. They frequently work in isolation, as the only dance teacher in their school or only studio in their community, and lack resources such as networking opportunities and quality professional development. They are so often unseen and unrecognized, working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure their students’ success, in the studio and in life!

For 23 years, the National Dance Education Organization has been a lifeline for dance teachers, so that they in turn can transform their students’ lives through dance education. Our Professional Development Scholarships support working dance educators with financial need who want to continue their education so that they can refine and enhance their current teaching practices. 

The need among dance teachers has been even more deeply felt in the past year, as Covid-19’s economic impact affected dance studios, school budgets, and institutional support for the arts. At the same time, dance educators have gone above and beyond in their pandemic response. They have been investing in and learning new technology to provide online classes for their students, adapting their teaching methods to account for social distancing, and spending extra time cleaning and sanitizing. This response came largely at teachers’ own time and expense, yet they do it without complaint because they know that the opportunity to dance safely through uncertain times can make an enormous difference in their students’ physical, mental, and emotional health. 

Who benefits from NDEO’s Professional Development Scholarships?

To say thank you to our dance education community for their extraordinary efforts in the past year, and in response to the greater need in 2021, NDEO will award a record 14 professional development scholarships to deserving dance educators. The opportunities afforded through these scholarships help the recipients further their knowledge, refine their teaching practices, and advance their careers. 

But the truth is that the impact of these scholarships extends far beyond the individual teacher who receives them. The scholarship recipients take what they learn through their professional development and use it to make a difference in the lives of their students. As a typical dance teacher can teach up to 150 students a year, the potential impact can be far reaching!

Want to learn more about the impact of your donation? Click on the links to hear from 2 of our recent Professional Development Scholarship recipients, Chefiatou Tokou and Diana Barrios.


We often hear stories like Chefiatou's and Diana's from dance educators who have gone on similar journeys of self-discovery and have had those “ah-ha” moments while participating in one of our programs. These moments, these educators, and their ability to share what they’ve learned with the young dancers of today – they are the reason NDEO exists. And they are the reason we need your support. 

Please join us in celebrating NDEO’s Birthday on March 6th by participating in our Day of Giving to support Professional Development Scholarships. We are accepting donations from March 1 to March 14, 2021. Donate here.
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