What a wonderful national conference this NDEO(national dance educators organization) gathering turned out to be. Hats off to the NDEO board who worked so tirelessly to make the conference possible. An additional thanks to Kristin Kusanovich (past president of CDEA, lecturer in the department of Theatre and Dance at Santa Clara University and Kusanovich Dance Company), Susan Gingrasso (NDEO board member, CDEA member & presenter, DEiP’s practical resources column, and Associate Director of the Language of Dance Center), and Jennifer La Curan(Chair of Dance and Co-President Irvine Valley College, CDEA) for supporting me to speak on ‘Children’s Dance: Educational or Sexualized’ at the NDEO national conference.

Let me share a few flavors of what happened in La Jolla from Oct 4-7.

Wonderful connections with dance educators.

Wonderful knowledge about dance.

Wonderful leadership of people who love dance.

I spent Friday involved in early childhood and elementary education with research-based dance educators who know what is best for children. Nothing new here. Dance is SO good when it’s taught from an educational perspective. The process of learning about dance, the joy of movement, and the fun to engage in it was presented by professionals in the field. This is so different than the cultural trend to normalize the hypersexualization of children in adult costumes, choreography and music. That first morning I spoke to Anne Green Gilbert

Anne Green Gilbert & Mary

and Terry Goetz who are experts in dance education for children at the Creative Dance Center in Seattle Washington. Tutelage under Anne was part of my master’s degree work at Hope University; her expertise intentionally extended into the book I wrote for dance ministry in the church. Then I met Maygan Wurzer of ‘All that Dance’ as well as Lynn Monson who is an OPDI (online professional development institute) teacher for NDEO as well as a past president of the AZdeo(Arizona Dance Educators Organization). At different class times, we experienced and sometimes shared discussion on our love of children and the art of dance.

Just before the session I taught, Kara Madden taught (graduate research student) a class on the effects in popular culture on dance education in America. The research sought to understand the connections among popular culture, dance aesthetics, teaching methods, and career paths. Kara reported many shifts in all of these areas, especially through the impact of reality television and mass media. I love dance educators. They examine the right questions.

Then came the time for my class ‘Children’s Dance: Educational or Sexualized’. Honestly, my most important session challenge involved technology. On my end, I was prepared. In the past, I’ve had problems with my powerpoint presentation because of equipment failure that prevented me from o showing video examples of healthy, age-appropriate children’s dance versus the harms of hypersexualizing children in adult costumes, choreography and music. Not this time. Many thanks to Tyrone and Manny, the IT techs, who went above and beyond the call of duty to assist me and make sure that my presentation worked. Another personal thank you to my husband, my brother John, and sister in law Judi who helped take pictures, run video, and hand out hand-outs and brochures.

What a DA:NCE team!

My session ‘Children’s Dance: Educational or Sexualized’ went off without a hitch and I was thankful. Dance educators ‘get’ the issue. It’s special to hear their hearts. They want children protected and safe in dance so that they can enjoy its benefits. In fact, many dance educators showed interest in my topic and they volunteered to write an article for the Dance coalition newsletter on this issue. I am delighted.

A reminder. The Dance Coalition Newsletter will launch sometime this fall. Sign up for the ebook ‘Healthy and Harmful Dance’, and you will receive the Dance Coalition newsletter for free. Please pass all of the materials on danceawareness.com to your relational circle and let’s grow the DA:NCE team!

Oh my gosh. Yawn. It’s time to go to bed. So……………I’m finishing this blog with a quote that I used to end my session at the NDEO National Conference:

LA Times          Sunday August 19, 2018      ‘Pattern Seen in Sex Abuse Scandals’

  • “What matters”, University of Texas Professor James Campbell Quick says, “is how these matters are tackled by the leadership.”
  • “If the tone is set well and is healthy, then the system will be healthy. You have to have systems set in place to identify when something wrong, unhealthy, or inappropriate occurs.”
  • “We have to take action because we have to make sure we’re creating the cultures we want in our society.”