Empower Your Dancers to Succeed in College and Beyond With NDEO’s National Honor Society for Dance Arts 
Sponsored by National Dance Education Organization
April 10, 2024

“There are so many ways to make a positive impact through dance,” says Amy Bramlett Turner. “The National Honor Society for Dance Arts has been a vehicle for us to recognize all that our students do.” As a chapter sponsor of the NHSDA Secondary Chapter at Hot Springs World Class High School in Arkansas, Turner witnesses firsthand how “membership is something students can be proud of and strive for.” When Turner watches her student dancers graduate bearing their blue-and-white honor cords and pins, she can’t help but be proud. Their involvement in NHSDA has cultivated their leadership skills and helped prepare them for college, careers, and beyond.

The National Honor Society for Dance Arts (NHSDA) is part of the larger National Dance Education Organization, a nonprofit committed to advancing dance education in all directions, from pedagogy and research to accessibility and equity. Since its inception in 1998, NDEO has helped its members connect with other like-minded dance educators, access professional-development resources, support and grow dance programs, and celebrate their artistic endeavors on a national scale.

Hot Springs Dance Troupe members. Photo by Aaron Brewer, courtesy NDEO.

Through its National Honor Society for Dance Arts, NDEO encourages students as young as sixth grade all the way up to college seniors to actively engage with their local and national dance communities, as they become the next generation of leaders in the field. Any studio, school, or organization that has an established dance program with at least one dance teacher can become an Institutional member of NDEO and complete a chapter application. After those steps, the sponsor can establish a Junior, Secondary, or Collegiate NHSDA chapter and begin the induction process for their students.

Induction into NHSDA is a prestigious honor that uplifts the study of dance. Students accumulate points for induction by participating in activities that demonstrate academic achievement, leadership, and artistic merit.

Junior and Secondary Chapters Build Leadership Skills

Mary Anne Herding, sponsor of the NHSDA Secondary Chapter at Xavier College Preparatory in Phoenix, Arizona, explains, “The point system encourages kids to think both big and small about where they can share their dance talents.” On campus, Xavier students earn points through student choreography projects, dance-related senior capstones, serving on the dance club’s executive board, and performing or assisting backstage in school productions. Students have also performed at assisted-living facilities and local shelters.

Xavier College Preparatory dancers perform at Morning Star Assisted Living. Photo courtesy NDEO.

“Many shy students come into this program and gain a lot more self-esteem and confidence because of the opportunities and community they build here,” says Herding. “There are a lot of academic high achievers and competitive sports teams on campus—NHSDA fills a niche for kids with other talents, and allows them to be successful leaders in a different way. As such an exposing art form, dance allows us to really get to know our students. Through all the creative projects, field trips, discussions, and leadership positions that NHSDA and our dance club offer, we get to see students’ personalities grow and evolve in a way that a lot of other subjects or clubs don’t.”

At Hot Springs World Class High School, Turner loves how NHSDA provides an opportunity to celebrate students on both national and local scales. “NHSDA recognizes their leadership and academic achievements alongside dance, including ways they participate in dance outside of school,” she says. Students are celebrated at a national level through the annual NHSDA Senior Slideshow, NHSDA Day of Recognition, and by submitting work to be published in the Dance Arts Now! NHSDA newsletter. 

Hot Springs students engage with their local community by partnering with a special-needs organization where they perform and teach dance classes. Some students also earn points toward induction through participation at their area dance studios. When it’s time for Secondary Chapter inductees to graduate to the next stage of their lives and expand their circle further, NHSDA induction is an asset on college and scholarship applications.

Collegiate Chapters Encourage Advocacy

Bri'Asha Aldridge is the president of Towson University’s NHSDA chapter. Photo by Lauren Castellena, courtesy Aldridge.

Opportunities for NHSDA involvement also abound at the Collegiate level, which places a more rigorous focus on scholarship, research, and advocacy. As president of Towson University’s NHSDA chapter in Maryland, senior Bri’Asha Aldridge has worked to unite Towson’s dance department and expand its resources. With the help of Towson NHSDA’s student-led executive board, Aldridge’s chapter was able to sponsor over 30 tickets for students to see a local performance by Philadanco, and is currently working to build out a unique study space for dance department students on campus. “Our chapter is an important bridge between the different cohorts [grades] as well as between students and faculty,” she explains. “Through NHSDA, I’ve learned how I can advocate for the dancers around me, so when I get out into the real world, I’ll already know how to be a strong leader.”

As a college student, Aldridge also gained membership to NDEO, opening up a wealth of career-development opportunities. “I volunteered at an NDEO conference last year, and all the different panelists and presentations made me realize there are so many more directions a dance career can take besides performing,” she says. “I wanted to explore those other facets more, and have been utilizing the many resources NDEO has to offer, like webinars and courses, to continue learning outside of my college classes.” Aldridge is also gaining hands-on experience as a current NHSDA intern for NDEO.

When NHSDA Collegiate members graduate, they’ve already developed the leadership, service, and artistic excellence required to be successful in whatever career they choose. “My involvement with NDEO and NHSDA has taught me that you have to think of yourself as a whole person rather than just a dancer,” Aldridge shares. “Being part of something that’s bigger than just performing in college has pushed me to think on my toes, taught me the value of advocacy and helping others, and ultimately has made me feel more marketable as a professional.”

Towson University NHSDA members at an event earlier this school year. Photo by Alison Seidenstricker, courtesy Aldridge.

If you’re interested in bringing the value of NHSDA to the students in your dance program, click here to learn more.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Sign up for any or all of these newsletters

You have Successfully Subscribed!