The National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) held its yearly conference in Chicago earlier this month (November 5-9) and 4dancers attended for the first time. We wanted to learn more about the offerings this organization extends to the community of dance educators, connect with other dance writers and bloggers from across the country, and share our conference experience with readers here on the site.
The theme for 2014 was “Collaborations–A Mosaic of Possibilities” and the first thing you noticed when browsing all of the sessions available is that there were a staggering variety of them to choose from. Here is just a brief sampling of some of the titles:
- Collaborating Between Dance and Illustration Students
- Deep Core Stabilizer Muscles and Global Movers; Finding Collaboration in Movement
- Technique Class for the Mature Mover
- Common Core & Dance: Let’s put it together!
- Mambo to Hip-Hop
- Preserving dance in collaboration with photographers and filmmakers, past and present
- Moon Phases: A Collaboration Between Dance and Science Education
- Dance, Pilates and PT: A Collaboration for Dancer Health
- Community Collaborations: How to Create and Fund Partnerships with Performing Arts Organizations
And that’s just a small taste of all that was offered.
Both a hard copy of the schedule and an app were available to help conference attendees navigate their choices. We used both to fine-tune what we were going to see/experience. The sessions that we attended were well thought out and informative, and Q&A time brought some great perspectives to light as well.
In addition to our “learning time” we also browsed the tables that were set up for sponsors, exhibitors and advertisers and talked with people in the halls about their conference experience along the way. The overwhelming majority were excited and energized–thankful for this “time-out” to talk with other educators and people in their field. Many remarked on how busy they are and how this type of event allows them some much-needed time to re-fuel and remember why they went down this path in the first place.
We met up with other writers and bloggers and had some time to talk about everything from what they were getting out of the conference to how we were all connected on the web, and how exciting the possibilities are for extending education in various forms online through blogs and other platforms. We bonded. Big time.
Sometimes there is just no substitute for face-to-face communication. As a dance writer on the web, all too often I am alone. I have this in common with many dance educators in classrooms everywhere. It’s easy to lose perspective. It’s hard to stay connected to others who can help inspire you, guide you–and sometimes–just walk beside you along the way.
But don’t just take my word for it. Below you’ll find some thoughts from two other “first timers” at the NDEO Conference this year. And you can read more thoughts from dance educators about their experience over on Dance Advantage as well.
I was a “first timer” at the 2014 NDEO Conference in Chicago this past weekend.
I was happy to be involved in the Conference in a number of ways. Thursday morning, my New Trier MENZ dance students performed a work I choreographed for them at a two-hour session led by my colleague Christopher Rutt. I started Friday morning by presenting at my own paper session with my artistic partner, Michael Estanich. Our session, Long Distance Collaboration: Thriving Artistically Across State Lines was well attended and well received. Michael and I look forward to returning to future NDEO Conferences to present on other topics that are pertinent to our classrooms and our artistic work.
I had the opportunity to take a great movement class with good friend Rebecca Bryant. Her session on using the Number Score to assist in Embodied Collaboration was creative and got a lot of laughs. Other notable sessions I attended were Elizabeth Lentz’s paper, Beyond Dancer and Actor and the awesome trio of artists known as AGA Collaborative whose panel on The Collaborative Voice was the perfect way to end the Conference.
The main reason I’ll be back though is for the invaluable amount of networking that took place for me. I had lunch with dance bloggers from across the country and saw some face-to-face for the first time. I spoke on behalf of RE|Dance Group and got us some future performance opportunities. And most importantly, I connected with a lot of teachers from across the globe who share a collective desire to bring dance to our students’ lives.
This was the first NDEO Conference I attended and I am already writing my proposal for a movement workshop for the 2015 Conference.
Arriving on the first day of the conference in my “proper” Pendleton blazer and stretchy red velvet leggings, I felt too formally dressed. What? Me–too formally dressed in a blazer and leggings? The following days I came more suitably dressed in my teaching clothes—yoga leggings and layers of shirt and sweater to take off as I warmed up.
Being surrounded by women and men as passionate as I am about dance, the wisdom of the body, and the art and craft of the teaching of both, was an honor. I engaged in dialogue with many professors, teachers, and emerging artists who are creating and honing genuine, authentic, and educationally sound methods of dance education.
One such dialogue was with California State University Professor Rebecca Bryant who led a movement workshop that inspired creative collaboration through a structure that lessens the “preciousness” of being on stage. Her workshop was centered on the Number Score from Ensemble Thinking. I brought the Score to Brave and Barefoot Dance Troupe’s practice session with great success just a day after Professor Bryant’s workshop.
Thanks for an inspiring conference, NDEO!
NDEO Conference 2015
NDEO’s next conference will be in Phoenix, AZ in 2015 and it will run from October 7-11. They will be accepting proposals until February 1, 2015, and the theme will be: “Engaging in the Artistic Processes: Creating, Performing, Responding, Connecting“.
4dancers received free admission to the NDEO annual conference for review and promotional services.