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New York State Dance Education Awards

Congratulations to 2020 NYSDEA Award Recipients

The NYSDEA Board of Directors would like to congratulate this year’s Award Recipients!

Normani Thomas Smiley - NYSDEA Undergraduate Recipient This award acknowledges the efforts of student participation in the dance education community from our undergraduate membership.

Normani M Thomas Smiley is a Senior dance education major at Hofstra University. Over the past four years, Normani has been working on refining her craft as a dancer.  She has done this through the study of various techniques and by performing in several faculty works by William Issac, Karla Wolfangle, Caroline Copeland, and Dyane Harvey-Salaam.  She has also been committed to her work as a future dance educator by teaching in Hofstra’s community outreach program called Dancers in Schools and by holding an executive board position in the Teaching Dance As Art Club.  Normani had the opportunity to attend her first NDEO conference last year where she learned tremendously and found it to be an invaluable experience as a developing dance educator.  During her sophomore year, Normani stepped out of her comfort zone and joined Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority where she now holds a national leadership position as the president of the executive board.  Through her work in her sorority, she has been able to use dance as an entry point to educate others on important historical time periods, such as the Harlem Renaissance. As Normani prepares to graduate this year, she is eager to take everything she has learned from the dance education program at Hofstra University in order to be the best educator she can be for her students.

Deanna Martinez - NYSDEA Graduate Recipient This award acknowledges the efforts of student participation in the dance education community from our graduate membership.

Deanna Lynn Martinez is a second-year graduate student in NYU Steinhardt's Dance Education Program, pursuing a master’s degree in Teaching Dance, Grades Pre-K–12, Initial Certification. She previously received a BA (summa cum laude) in Dance and Africana and Puerto Rican/Latino Studies from Hunter College, as a Macaulay Honors Scholar. Deanna, a native New Yorker, received most of her childhood dance education through the NYC public school system in which she now aspires to teach. Currently, she is a member of Janice Rosario and Company and has assisted with the company’s choreography residencies within the Alvin Ailey/Fordham University BFA Program and at Columbia University. She has also studied dance internationally in Italy, and has taught in Uganda (in Deborah Damast’s study abroad program), Trinidad and Tobago, and locally. In addition, Deanna has completed educational administrative roles at the Joyce Theater Foundation and the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) in partnership with the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Upon obtaining her teaching certification, she hopes to work with immigrant and ESL students, promoting the use of dance as a cultural and diplomatic tool of soft power, and performing arts students, helping to foster the accessibility and pursuit of dance as a career. Deanna is co-President of the Steinhardt Dance Education Association, which is a student chapter of NDEO.

Michelle Cole - Outstanding Dance Educator (Teaching Artist) This award acknowledges a stellar dance educator with an established record of teaching dance as a teaching artist through an arts organization.

Michelle Cole, is an educator, choreographer, and dancer. She received her Master’s degree in Dance Education from New York University, Steinhardt and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Florida International University’s Honors College. In 2019, she began her own dance teaching company, Dance Culture LLC, to conduct independent dance residencies at universities, and public, private, and charter schools throughout NYC. Michelle became an adjunct faculty member of NYU in 2015, she currently teaches Afro-Caribbean and Hip-Hop Dance. As a choreographer and performer, Michelle has presented and performed in New York, Chicago, Miami, Martha’s Vineyard, Kampala, Uganda and more. She is a member of the Teaching Artist Affairs committee through the Arts in Education Roundtable and an advocate for dance education, social justice in the arts, and culturally integrated dance pedagogy.

Keyla Hiraldo - Outstanding Dance Educator (PreK-12) This award acknowledges a stellar dance educator from the Pre-K - 12 sector of the membership with an established record of teaching dance in an educational setting.

Keyla Hiraldo is a full-time Dance Educator at PS 372 in Brooklyn where she has taught children with autism since 2013. At PS 372 she has created a child-centered curriculum based on movement exploration through which children discover their abilities, maximize their growth and potential, and honor their own and each other’s humanity. Ms. Hiraldo holds a Bachelor of Science in Dance Education from Hofstra University, an MA in Dance Education from Hunter College and is currently an MA candidate in the Applied Behavioral Analysis program at Touro College.  Keyla’s professional experience includes teaching at the Jorday Rivera Dance Studio in Brooklyn and AHRC in Hempstead NY, performing with the Imani Dance Ensemble and choreography for the Lower Manhattan Arts Academy High School. Internships include the Theresa Academy of Performing Arts in Lido Beach, the Bates Dance Festival, STREB at SLAM and the East Village Dance Project. Keyla is trained in West African, Ballet, Tap, Capoeira, Modern and Jazz Dance.

Colleen Wahl - Outstanding Dance Education Researcher This award recognizes an individual member who has made a unique contribution to the field of dance education through creative and/or scholarly research. The recipient of this award cultivates the importance of scholarly and creative research throughout the field of dance education.

Colleen Wahl is a dance artist, educator, and author who works with the body has her primary material. She is an Assistant Professor of Dance at Alfred University and co-directs Integrated Movement Studies, a Graduate Certification Program on Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysis. She is also the associate producer of the Marlin Miller Dance Residency Program. Her book, "Laban/Bartenieff Movement Studies: Contemporary Applications" integrates Laban/Bartenieff theory with an embodied and practical approach that encourages the reader to gain new awareness of movement in their life was published in 2019. She coauthors a monthly Integrated Movement Studies article with Janice Meaden. Other articles include a series of fitness columns for Epoch Times, a section Studying Dance: A Guide to Campus and Beyond, and a chapter in Inhabiting the Meta-Visual: Contemporary Performance Theories.Her research focuses on applying Laban/Bartenieff to shed light on how movement is meaningful throughout our human lives and is especially interested in contact sports and fitness. She founded a L/BMA-based somatic fitness business, Move Into Greatness, which allowed her to apply Laban/Bartenieff concepts in various contexts. She has applied L/BMA in sports, business, and performing arts, including Cornell University (with their football team and the graduate school of management) and the Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technology Institute for the Deaf. She maintains a private movement education practice in which she works one-on-one with clients. Her quirky choreography includes "Foot in the Door" an evening length multi-media community dance project at the Rochester Fringe Festival exploring the working body in late-capitalism, a series of community dance projects such as “my(inter)face” performed at Triskelion Arts and Webster Hall, and a solo series “Portraits of Women Doing their Best.” Wahl integrates her fibers art practice with her choreographic process, for example, designing and creating quilts that connect to dance composition, and is developing a series of garments to support body connectivity. Wahl holds a master’s degree in fine arts in dance from State University of New York at Brockport, a master’s degree in liberal studies from State University of New York Empire State College, and a bachelor’s degree in dance and arts education from William Smith College. She is a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst (CLMA) through Integrated Movements Studies, a Registered Somatic Movement Educator (RSME) through the International Somatic Movement Educators and Therapists Association and a certified personal trainer (CPT) through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).

Shola Roberts - Outstanding Leadership This award is given to an individual member who has demonstrated excellence in creating ideas for programs, curriculums, and/or projects that have had a significant impact on the field of dance education and who has demonstrated leadership on a national level. Additionally, the recipient of this award inspires and cultivates vision and leadership in others.

Shola K. Roberts is a premiere dance educator and choreographer igniting the arts in Brooklyn, NY. A proud Grenadian American, Shola has worked with renowned choreographers and dance organizations, such as, Kowteff West African Dance Company, the Oyu Oro Company and Evidence Dance Company under artistic direction of Ronald K. Brown.  A Lincoln Center Scholar, Shola received a full scholarship to Hunter College Arnhold Graduate Dance Program, earning her Masters Degree. She accepted the Barnes and Nobles, “Favorite Teacher Award,” in 2016. Brooklyn Borough President, Eric Adams and WNYC Radio, have acknowledged Shola’s outstanding civic work. The 2019 Caribbean Life Impact Award and the 2020 Cultural Award are honorable recognitions presented by the Grenadian Consulate and Grenadian Independence Committee of NY. Shola has been characterized as “a pillar and shero for the community.”   Shola currently serves as Dance Educator and Arts Liaison for Middle School 354, School of Integrated Learning. As Artistic Director of the MS 354 Dance Ensemble, she launched, Kəˈnek-shən: The Dance Workshop Series, creating a collaborative platform for two New York City schools to engage in dance exchange. Performance highlights include: Brooklyn Borough Arts Festival at Kings Theater, 2019 Chancellor’s Citywide Principals’ Kickoff sponsored by Richard Carranza and The West Indian American Day Carnival Association School Time Concert. In 2019, Shola was selected as one of the eight candidates to pursue her Doctoral Degree in Dance Education at Columbia University. Traveling and uplifting youth through dance is the pivotal mission for this Howard University Fine Arts graduate. 

Christine Catalano - Diana Domoracki Kisto Award In honor and memory of former board member and inspirational Dance Educator, Diana Domoracki-Kisto, the NYSDEA board has established a gift to support Pre-K-12 Dance educator toward the cost of attending the NDEO conference.

Christine Catalano has been a dance educator for the past 11 years, with experience teaching students ranging from grades K-12 in New York City schools. She holds eight New York State professional certifications in the specialized areas of dance, visual art, students with disabilities, generalist, childhood and early childhood. Christine is currently a licensed dance teacher for the New York City Department of Education and teaches 9th-12th grade dance elective classes at Bronx Envision Academy, a Title 1 arts-focused high school. Here she established a National Honor Society for Dance Arts chapter and has had students selected to speak and perform for conferences and fundraisers on behalf of the program. Her work in collaboration with students has been accepted into the past two Bronx Borough Arts Festivals and her class has been featured on Pix 11 News as part of the Fuel Your School Challenge. Previously, she has taught dance with a literary focus to elementary school students learning English as a new language at PS 94 in Brooklyn and proposed, designed and implemented the first middle/high school dance program for students with special needs at the School for Language and Communication Development in Queens. Christine has her master’s degree in Dance Education from NYU Steinhardt as well as her bachelor's degree in General and Special Education from St. Joseph’s College. She continues to open her classroom as a cooperating and host teacher for new educators in the field.

1 normani thomas smiley 2 deanna martinez Img 20201005 wa0029 4 keyla hiraldo 5 colleen wahl 6 shola roberts 7 christine catalano

Awards Descriptions

Outstanding Dance Educator (Pre-K through 12): This award acknowledges a stellar dance educator from the Pre-K - 12 sector of the membership. The recipient of this award will have an established record of teaching dance in an educational setting.

Outstanding Dance Educator (Private Sector): This award acknowledges a stellar dance educator from the Private Sector of the membership. The recipient of this award will have an established record of teaching dance in an educational setting in the Private Sector.

Outstanding Dance Educator (Teaching Artist): This award acknowledges a stellar dance educator from the Teaching Artist sector of the membership. The recipient of this award will have an established record of teaching dance as a teaching artists through an arts organization.

Outstanding Dance Educator (Post-Secondary): This award acknowledges a stellar dance educator from the Post Secondary sector from the membership. The recipient of this award will have an established record of teaching dance in a post-secondary setting.

Outstanding Leadership: This award is given to an individual who has demonstrated excellence in creating ideas for programs, curriculums, and/or projects that have had a significant impact on the field of dance education and who has demonstrated leadership on a national level.  Additionally, the recipient of this award should inspire and cultivate vision and leadership in others.

Outstanding Dance Education Researcher: This award recognizes an individual who has made a unique contribution to the field of dance education through creative and/or scholarly research.  The recipient of this award should cultivate the importance of scholarly and creative research throughout the field of dance education.

Lifetime Achievement: The most prestigious award conferred, the Lifetime Achievement Award, is given for exemplary leadership, scholarship and/or artistry, and philanthropy or service to dance education for at least the past 15 years.  Nominees will be evaluated in the following areas:

  1. Impact and contributions of lifetime achievements to the field of dance.
  2. Advocacy for the field of dance and dance in education at the national and/or international level.
  3. Innovativeness of contributions to the arts and dance education.
  4. Recognition by peers as an influential figure in the dance or dance education communities.

Diana Domoracki Kisto Award: In honor and memory of former board member and inspirational Dance Educator, Diana Domoracki-Kisto, the NYSDEA board has established a gift to annually fund a Pre-K-12 Dance Educator toward the cost of attending the NDEO conference.  Any NYSDEA PreK-12 Dance Educator may apply.

NYSDEA Undergraduate and Graduate Dance Education Particpation Awards: NYSDEA wishes to acknowledge the efforts of student participation in the dance education community from our undergraduate and graduate members.


Congratulations to 2019 NYSDEA Award Recipients

The NYSDEA Board of Directors would like to congratulate this year’s Awards and Scholarship Recipients

  • Joy Guarino - Outstanding Dance Educator (Post-Secondary)
    This award acknowledges a stellar dance educator from the Post-Secondary sector of the membership. The recipient of this award will have an established record of teaching dance in a post-secondary setting.
  • Laila Sales - Outstanding Leadership
    This award is given to an individual who has demonstrated excellence in creating ideas for programs, curriculums, and/or projects that have had a significant impact on the field of dance education and who has demonstrated leadership on a national level. Additionally, the recipient of this award inspires and cultivates vision and leadership in others.
  • Bridget Bell - Diana Domoracki Kisto Award: In honor and memory of former board member and inspirational Dance Educator, Diana Domoracki-Kisto, the NYSDEA board has established a grant to annually fund a Pre-K-12 Dance Educator toward the cost of attending the NDEO conference.  Any NYSDEA PreK-12 Dance Educator may apply.

  • Amber Richetelli (Undergraduate Student, Hofstra University) and Nyasia Fraser (Graduate Student, Steinhardt NYU) - NYSDEA Student Scholarships
    NYSDEA wishes to recognize and encourage student participation in the dance education community by supporting undergraduate and graduate students at the 2019 NYSDEA Conference.
1 x higher ed award 2019 2 x leadership award 2019 3 x domoracki award 2019 4 x undergrad award hu 2019 5 x grad award nyu 2019


Eligibility Requirements
  • Nominees must be NDEO/NYSDEA members in good standing. Nominators do not need to be members.
  • All nominees must have consistent NDEO/NYSDEA membership of five years or more prior to nomination.
  • Nominators may nominate only one candidate in each category.
Nomination Guidelines
  • Obtain permission from the nominee prior to submitting materials.
  • Submit all required information required via email, including the nomination form, by the 
published deadline.
  • Please be sure to list the nominee's name as they would like it reflected on the award and all 
published materials.
Additional Information
  • Award recipients should expect to attend the annual NDEO conference and NYSDEA reception with awards presentation. If the nominator is able to attend, s/he may be asked to present the award.
  • Awards will be given only when warranted at the sole discretion of the Awards Committee.
  • Special consideration may be given to candidates who have contributed time and energy on 
behalf of NDEO/NYSDEA.
  • The Committee, at its discretion, may hold interviews with appropriate persons from the
candidate’s work environment.
  • Nominations will not be held over for submission the following year. Only the required and 
suggested materials will be reviewed. Additional materials will not be forwarded to the evaluation committee.

Congratulations to 2018 NYSDEA Award Recipients

The NYSDEA Board of Directors would like to congratulate this year’s Awards and Scholarship Recipients

  • Susan Turner Radin - Outstanding Dance Educator (Pre-K through 12) & Heather Roffe - Outstanding Dance Educator (Post-Secondary)
    This award acknowledges a stellar dance educator from the Pre-K - 12 sector of the membership. The recipient of this award will have an established record of teaching dance in an educational setting.
  • Allegra Romita - Outstanding Dance Education Researcher
    This award recognizes an individual who has made a unique contribution to the field of dance education through creative and/or scholarly research. The recipient of this award cultivates the importance of scholarly and creative research throughout the field of dance education.
  • Dr. Marijeanne Liederbach - Outstanding Leadership
    This award is given to an individual who has demonstrated excellence in creating ideas for programs, curriculums, and/or projects that have had a significant impact on the field of dance education and who has demonstrated leadership on a national level. Additionally, the recipient of this award inspires and cultivates vision and leadership in others.
  • Aminta Remisosky (Graduate Student, Steinhardt NYU) and Ingrid Dehler-Seter (Graduate Student, Sarah Lawrence) - NYSDEA Student Scholarships
    NYSDEA wishes to recognize and encourage student participation in the dance education community by supporting undergraduate and graduate students at the 2018 NYSDEA Conference.
X grad award nyu 2018 X grad award sl 2018 X higher ed award 2018 X k12 award 2018 X leadership award 2018 X higher ed award 2018

Outstanding Dance Educator: This award acknowledges a stellar dance educator from various sectors of the membership. The recipient of this award will have an established record of teaching dance in an traditional educational setting or through an Arts Organization. Awards are given to dance educators in the following sectors:

  • Pre-K through 12, Private Sector, Teaching Artist, and Post-Secondary
Dance Educator Awards

Outstanding Leadership: This award is given to an individual who has demonstrated excellence in creating ideas for programs, curriculums, and/or projects that have had a significant impact on the field of dance education and who has demonstrated leadership on a national level. Additionally, the recipient of this award should inspire and cultivate vision and leadership in others.
Leadership Award

Outstanding Dance Education Researcher: This award recognizes an individual who has made a unique contribution to the field of dance education through creative and/or scholarly research. The recipient of this award should cultivate the importance of scholarly and creative research throughout the field of dance education.
Dance Education Researcher Award

Lifetime Achievement: The most prestigious award conferred, the Lifetime Achievement Award, is given for exemplary leadership, scholarship and/or artistry, and philanthropy or service to dance education for at least the past 15 years. Nominees will be evaluated in the following areas

  • Impact and contributions of lifetime achievements to the field of dance.
  • Advocacy for the field of dance and dance in education at the national and/or international level.
  • Innovativeness of contributions to the arts and dance education
  • Recognition by peers as an influential figure in the dance or dance education communities.
Lifetime Achievement Award

Diana Domoracki Kisto Award: In honor and memory of former board member and inspirational Dance Educator, Diana Domoracki-Kisto, the NYSDEA board has established a grant to annually fund a Pre-K-12 Dance Educator toward the cost of attending the NDEO conference. Any NYSDEA PreK-12 Dance Educator may apply.
Diana Domoracki Kisto Award

NYSDEA Undergraduate and Graduate Student Scholarships: NYSDEA wishes to recognize and encourage student participation in the dance education community by providing monetary support to undergraduate and graduate students to attend the Annual NDEO Conference.
Student Scholarships

Eligibility Requirements

  • Nominees must be NDEO/NYSDEA members in good standing. Nominators do not need to be members.
  • Nominees must have consistent NDEO/NYSDEA membership of five years or more prior to nomination.
  • Student Nominees must be a current member of NDEO/NYSDEA.
  • Nominators may nominate only one candidate in each category.

Nomination Guidelines

  • Obtain permission from the nominee prior to submitting materials.
  • Submit all required information required via email, including the nomination form, by the 
published deadline.
  • Please be sure to list the nominee's name as they would like it reflected on the award and all 
published materials.
  • Award recipients are expected to attend the annual NDEO conference and NYSDEA reception with awards presentation. If the nominator is able to attend, s/he may be asked to present the award. This year the NDEO conference is in San Diego from October 4-7. The NYSDEA Awards ceremony is on Saturday, October 6th.

Important Additional Information

  • All Awards include a Honorarium
  • Awards will be given only when warranted at the sole discretion of the Awards Committee.
  • Special consideration may be given to candidates who have contributed time and energy on 
behalf of NDEO/NYSDEA.
  • The Committee, at its discretion, may hold interviews with appropriate persons from the
candidate’s work environment.
  • Nominations will not be held over for submission the following year. Only the required and 
suggested materials will be reviewed. Additional materials will not be forwarded to the evaluation committee.


Congratulations to 2017 NYSDEA Award Recipients

Thank you all for your commitment to dance education!

  • Barry Blumenfeld - Outstanding Dance Educator (Pre-K through 12)
    This award acknowledges a stellar dance educator from the Pre-K - 12 sector of the membership. The recipient of this award will have an established record of teaching dance in an educational setting.
  • Kimani Fowlin - Outstanding Dance Educator (Teaching Artist)
    This award acknowledges a stellar dance educator from the Teaching Artist sector of the membership. The recipient of this award will have an established record of teaching dance as a teaching artists through an arts organization.
  • Margaret Plaza - Diana Domoracki Kisto Award
    In honor and memory of former board member and inspirational Dance Educator, Diana Domoracki-Kisto, the NYSDEA board has established a grant to annually fund a Pre-K-12 Dance Educator the amount of $500 to be used toward the cost of attending the NDEO conference. By doing so this award acknowledges the contributions of this dance educator to the field of dance education and for furthering the mission of NYSDEA by their participation in local and/or statewide initiatives. The recipient of this award will also have an established record of teaching dance in an educational setting.
  • JoAnna Fisher and Daria Fitzgerald - NYSDEA Undergraduate and Graduate Student Scholarships
    NYSDEA wishes to recognize and encourage student participation in the dance education community by supporting undergraduate and graduate students at the 2017 NYSDEA Conference.
  • Patricia Cohen - Presidential Citation
    This award is given at the discretion of the sitting President. It’s intent is to honor and highlight the achievements and contributions of a particular individual who has shown exemplary leadership, scholarship and/or artistry, and philanthropy or service, to dance education over the years and specifically to NYSDEA/NDEO.
Awards 1 Awards 2 Awards 3 Awards 4 Awards 5 Awards 6

NYSDEA offers a number of scholarships and awards for New York State dance educators and dance education students.

For more information about any of the scholarships or awards listed please contact Karen Camp, Director of Awards at awards@nysdea.org