11 Department of Dance students and nine faculty members attended the National Dance Education Organization’s annual conference in Miami
As Utah faced an unseasonably cold snap at the end of October, 20 BYU dancers were enjoying the Miami sun. The warmth, however, did not distract them from their purpose in Florida — to attend a national forum on dance education and hone their craft as leaders and teachers.
The annual conference, hosted by the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO), featured lectures, panels and movement workshops led by dance educators from across the nation. 11 students and nine faculty from the Department of Dance attended.
“The NDEO conference offers the opportunity for dance educators from around the world to network with other educators, engage in professional development and present their work,” said Pam Musil, associate chair of the department. “We like our students to attend because it helps them see the scope of dance education beyond Utah and gives them opportunities to rub shoulders with students and educators throughout the nation.”
Six of the attending BYU professors shared their research at the conference, including professor Keely Song Glenn. Glenn presented her dance film “Claim” during a panel on dance and pregnancy. The panel featured the professors, students and alumni who participated in the project — along with their new babies. Professors Kate Monson and Kori Wakamatsu shared their work with ON SITE: mobile dance series — a local project on community involvement and site-specific dance.
Dance major Cait Shill was also able to present research. Shill, along with Monson and the University of Montana’s Brooklyn Draper, spearheaded a panel on Laban-Bartinieff Movement Analysis in the choreographic process. This was Shill’s third time attending the conference and second time presenting research.
“It wasn’t until I started attending dance conferences that I felt like I found my niche in the dance world, “ said Shill. “I’m always struck with the feeling that I’m with ‘my people.’”
Previously a member of dancEnsemble and Contemporary Dance Theatre, Shill has been struggling with a knee injury for the past year. Diving into the academic side of dance has allowed her to engage with the field she loves in a new way.
“My biggest takeaway from this year’s conference was the importance of digging your heels into the work you’re doing, and not giving up on the process,” said Shill. “With my knee injury, I haven’t been the dancer that I used to be. But to go to this conference was a reminder of what I really can do. The academic world can keep me engaged in this art that I think is valuable and adds a lot to our culture.”
While at the conference, students attended lectures on pedagogy, choreography and research, then returned each night to exchange notes with their peers.
“I was consistently inspired by how invested and excited our students were discussing the sessions they attended,” said Wakamatsu. “They are truly lifelong, explorative learners, and I’m honored to work with them as future leaders, academics and artists in the field.”