The Florida Dance Education Organization is set to bring together both teachers and students from the dance community for their annual conference, which is in its 15th year. This is the second consecutive year that it’s being held in Miami -- the conference will then move to a different part of the state.
“Because we’re a state organization, we host the conference somewhere different every two years,” said Daniel Lewis, managing director of the Florida Dance Education Organization.
Lewis is a fixture in Miami’s dance community, having established the dance program at New World School of the Arts. He used to be treasurer of the FDEO and when he retired, they brought him in as managing director.
“Even when my term as treasure expired they didn’t have to convince me to stay on,” he said. “Education became a huge focus of my life after I retired from New World so I became involved with FDEO, Arts for Learning and Thomas Armour Youth Ballet.”
Getting involved with FDEO, which is the state affiliate of the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO), is important to Lewis because it’s just one more way he fuels his passion for education. He feels education is the ideal way to incorporate dance into all the school systems. It’s a way to ensure that children get the opportunity to see what the arts are all about, and also to discover where their talent lies. “Hopefully education helps you find where your talent best works,” he said.
The FDEO Conference is for both teachers and students and costs only $50, which is great for students because they get to attend master classes and workshops and also gain admission to the Daniel Lewis Dance Sampler, which is the closing event on Oct. 21.
Those who registered early also received complimentary tickets to Miami City Ballet’s opening 2017-18 season opener “Jewels” on Oct. 20.
Highlights of the conference include keynote presenters Tina Santos-Whal and Michael Blake, both incredible teachers. Tina was faculty at New World School of the Arts and Michael is a jazz- and modern-dance teacher who comes from the Jose Limon Dance Co. (he’s also danced with several other companies in New York).
Scene from a dance class at last year's FDOE Conference.
“Michael is going to be a real plus to this conference. He and Tina will both be doing not only classes but also a pedagogue class explaining the importance of warm up. Pedagogue is tailored more for the teachers that attend,” Lewis said.
There are also an array of specialists including Andrea Cidel, who will teach Isadora Duncan technique classes, plus lecture on the legendary dancer as well.
Lewis himself will present a talk about Thomas Armour Youth Ballet and the education component they’ve added to the school. His hope is to spread the word so that other schools will also add a similar education component to their curriculum. This talk is particularly important for teachers to attend.
In addition, Maureen O’Rourke will present a body alignment and injury prevention class; while Lois Hoffman will deliver a lecture on grant writing and how to get funding, something very beneficial to all in the dance community.
The information being presented can be used for all attendees to promote their own careers; teachers and students all take the technique classes. “Attendees will walk away from this conference with the knowledge and ability to pass it on,” said Lewis.