Scholarship Opportunities to Help Dance Teachers and Students Reach Their Goals
October 3, 2022

Dance teachers juggle enough responsibilities, but finding the financial means to help fund future goals and other learning opportunities shouldn’t have to be an added burden. With the ongoing pandemic, teachers have already had to deal with the financial ramifications of canceled performances, drops in student attendance and other challenges. Thankfully, there are several scholarship programs that exist to help dance teachers, students and artists pursue continued learning and networking, while also working towards a more diverse and inclusive industry. 

Here are some upcoming opportunities:

Photo courtesy The Encore Fund

International Association of Blacks in Dance—Preserving and Promoting Dance by People of African Ancestry or Origin

The IABD offers several scholarships, with the most immediate opportunity being a scholarship towards the 33rd Annual International Conference and Festival of Blacks in Dance taking place January 25–29, 2023, in Toronto, Canada. New York City artists, administrators and dance-related personnel working in the dance field are eligible to apply.

Recipients will receive complimentary Conference and Festival registration and three complimentary hotel nights at the host hotel, the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel. Application opened Monday, September 26, 2022, and the deadline is October 7, 2022, at 11:59 pm EST. Application requirements include:

  • Experience and/or professional goals demonstrating an intention for a continued career in the dance field (artist, administrator, choreographer, educator, production staff, scholar, teacher, etc.)
  • Demonstrated interest in projects and opportunities that contribute to the dance field (above and beyond employment in the field)
  • Exceptional promise in dance through academic and/or professional achievement, scholarly works, teaching in the field, etc. 

In addition, the IABD also offers two annual scholarships to current members:

  • The Joan Myers Brown Artist Development Fund provides a minimum award in the amount of $1,000 per year to help artists experience educational opportunities locally and overseas; attend workshops, seminars and special dance art events; and also support most direct costs related to the conception, creation and premiere of a new work. Application materials become available in December and are reviewed and awarded throughout the year. 
  • The Dr. Sherrill Berryman Johnson Dance Scholarship Fund provides a minimum award of one scholarship, in the amount of $500 per year, to allow recipients to attend all two- and four-year colleges, universities and dance schools. The Fund also allows recipients to attend workshops, seminars and special dance art events. Application materials become available in December and the deadline is March 31. Awards are distributed in June. The scholarship is only available to individuals between the ages of 14 and 22. 

The Encore Fund—Helping Dancers Make the Next Step

Established in 2021 by Los Angeles Ballet dancer Shelby Whallon, The Encore Fund scholarship aims to “close the gap between onstage careers and the educational opportunities required for a second start.”  Dancers looking to pursue higher education can now take advantage of the scholarship opportunity to help fund those dreams. Whallon was inspired to create the scholarship after having to turn down a chance to attend the Columbia University School of General Studies when her financial package came in lower than she expected, making it challenging to meet the school’s high tuition fee. Through The Encore Fund, she hopes other dancers won’t have to face the same hurdles. 

Shelby Whallon, Founder of The Encore Fund. Photo courtesy The Encore Fund.

“I have come to realize that the dance world underutilizes professional dancers’ skill sets that are cultivated through interests outside of the studio, and it’s thrilling for me to see individuals nourishing their other passions through higher education,” says Whallon. “I am grateful to those who are willing to share their stories with The Encore Fund selection committee because it allows us to see individuals through the lens of more than the dancers we often present ourselves as in the studio setting.”

The submission window for the 2023 scholarship application opens on November 27, 2022, and will close on March 31, 2023. Winners will be announced on June 1, 2023. Applicants must meet three criteria:

  • Have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher at their current or most recent education institution
  • Have professional dance experience of four years or more
  • Must be attending an institution of higher education for the following semester (fall 2023)

Applicants must also submit an autobiographical essay discussing the opportunity they are hoping to fund and their future plans, along with a resumé documenting education and dance history. 

National Dance Foundation—Fostering Inclusion for Dancers With Disabilities

A 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the mission of the National Dance Foundation is to promote kindness, inclusion and community (#KIC) in the dance community, while also giving opportunities to dancers with disabilities to perform and take classes. But in order for those dancers to attend class, instructors must receive the proper training to meet their needs. Hence, the NDF has been offering the Rhythm Works Integrative Dance Scholarship for the past seven years, which covers the cost for instructors to become a certified Rhythm Works Integrative Dance instructor (a $535 value) via their on-demand online course. 

National Dance Foundation dancers perform at an NBA game. Photo courtesy National Dance Foundation.

Founded by Tricia Gomez, Rhythm Works Integrative Dance is a rhythm and dance program that incorporates evidence-based practices from occupational, physical and behavioral therapy. While the focus is on teaching students with behavioral challenges and learning differences, the program is also applicable to people of all ages and capabilities. In addition to the certification course, the scholarship includes the first year of membership (a $99 value) to The Rhythm Works Society, an online support community of other certified teachers and therapists. 

“The scholarship gives the teacher tools to have the confidence to offer a more robust type of class,” explains Cathy Graziano, executive director of the NDF. “You can’t teach something you don’t know or are comfortable with. [Things like] sensory perception and sounds are all different when it comes to those with disabilities, but if you aren’t alert to the fact that these are going to be ‘trigger factors,’ then your dancers will be overwhelmed and you won’t have the right coping mechanisms.”

By helping students with disabilities get the most out of dance classes, the NDF hopes this will also bridge the gap for more performance opportunities, as well. One of the NDF’s key programs has been its NBA pregame performances, where all dancers, including those with disabilities, have been able to perform at basketball games throughout the country. 

Details on the 2023 scholarship will be available on the NDF’s website in early January and is awarded during the organization’s National Dance Week celebration taking place April 14–23.   

The Maria Tallchief Endowed Scholarship and The Marjorie Tallchief Endowed Scholarship—Championing Indigenous Dancers

The Tallchief sisters were members of the Osage Nation and part of the “Five Moons”—five renowned American Indian ballerinas that were born or raised in Oklahoma who went on to have illustrious careers in the U.S. and abroad. Maria Tallchief is widely considered America’s first prima ballerina and was a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, while her sister Marjorie became the first première danseuse étoile at the Paris Opéra Ballet. In 2020, the University of Oklahoma School of Dance established two endowed scholarships in their honor.

Vitoria Correia, Marjorie Tallchief Scholarship Recipient. Courtesy OU School of Dance.

The scholarships are awarded annually to full-time OU School of Dance students maintaining a required grade point average, with priority consideration given to those students of American Indian backgrounds and/or students with demonstrated financial need. The scholarships are awarded every April during the student awards banquet. The recipients for 2022 included Randi Tucker, a member of the Cherokee Nation, for the Maria Tallchief Scholarship, and Vitoria Correia, a current OU student from Brazil’s Bolshoi School, for the Marjorie Tallchief Scholarship. The Department of Dance sends out communication directly to all OU dance majors for consideration in both scholarships. 

Randi Tucker in Jiří Kylián's Falling Angels, Maria Tallchief Scholarship Recipient. Courtesy OU School of Dance

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