As a child my mom said to me “would you like to take a dance class?” I answered with a resounding YES!!!!! That my friends was a game changer…and that conversation is as the saying goes how a simple pair of shoes changed a life.
I started in a recreational program. But it was my Grams that kept on insisting “You must dance with a Dance Masters of America teacher” my aunts, danced with Homer Babbs and Enid Ricardo, just to name a few… both prominent DMA Members. They were also in show business at a young age singing and tap dancing on radio shows in Detroit. Their Dance Masters teachers were the onset of those careers…and kids not only was this before cell phones…it was before television!!!
So needless to say we went off to find a Dance Masters of America Teacher. Its funny I remember I liked dance, however when I started with my Dance Masters teacher whom I will never forget, her name is Helen Raickovich from Chapter 4 in Michigan, she changed my life.
I LOVED her tap classes and probably drove my parents nuts with all the tapping that I did in the basement. Her knowledge was far superior to my previous teacher and her loyalty to the organization brought me to Teachers Training School in Kent Ohio…another life changer. The DMA Teachers Training School opened a whole new world in dance, and has brought me to the closest and dearest friends that I still have to this day.
They say it takes a village …and what a phenomenal village Dance Masters is. With great educators of the past, the present, and the quality of dancers being trained and educated by our DMA Members, ensures our future. DMA was founded in the principle that good teaching techniques should be shared to encourage the elevation of dance and education. DMA may be 133 years old but our teachers and students remain leaders in the dance industry.
I want the theme of the year to be about old traditions and new beginnings. Some of the wonderful traditions here at DMA are the awards given to honor our members and chapters. In Nashville last summer the following members were honored. Madeline Graves was named 2016 DMA Member of the year and Shevawn Thull was the recipient of the Zee Brown Ahearn Award. DMA also honored its members who have reached their 25th and 50th years of membership, they were recognized and presented with their appropriate pins. Chapter of the Year Award is given to the Chapter with the most growth, it was Presented to Chapter 38 Dance Masters of Canada. At the banquet DMA honored Charleen Locascio with The Lifetime Achievement Award and Tom Ralabate with The DMA President’s Award, they were presented with proclamations for their widespread achievements in Dance. Congratulations to all of those deserving members!
The theme of the 2016 National Convention in Nashville was…Records Will Be Made…this was certainly true at the Convention, we set a record in overall attendance at the Convention, we set a record for attendance in our five Workshop Classrooms, and we set another record for attendance in our competitions. I am looking forward to our National Convention in New Orleans next summer and hope to see you all there for another fun filled learning event…getting to once again see our DMA family back together.
In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson – “Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”. I feel the same way for Dance Masters of America…it is an organization of leaders in the dance field, first education organization for dance teachers that is also 133 years strong, first Miss Dance & Mr Dance competition, first Teachers Training School, and a leader in Scholarship Competitions where more than $200,00 is awarded annually… many have followed and used the path that Dance Masters has set forth…let us continue to go where there is no path and continue to leave a trail for others to follow.
Best wishes to all for a fantastic new dance season and I hope your summer plans include the 133rd DMA National Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Laura Y Work
DMA National President