I would like to start with a quote from Tori Amos, “Some of the most wonderful people are
the ones who don’t fit into boxes.” My best friend as a child was my cousin Darla. I remember
we spent hours together listening and singing to music (I am sure much too loud for our
parent’s liking). Her world was much different than mine…hers included braces on her legs
and a helmet on her head. She was limited because of her balance problems and would often
fall…she has cerebral palsy. My world included running on the playground, climbing trees
and dance classes.
I remember going to dance class so excited to learn new steps and then coming home to
share them with Darla. I would hold her hands and try to teach her the steps. Usually we
would tumble to the ground singing, dancing, and laughing. I danced not just for myself but
for the both of us.
Dance has been a true joy in my life. It was and still is my happy place. As I reflect back to my childhood, I realize how truly blessed I was to have this outlet of self expression. Over the years I have taught students with Down’s Syndrome, cerebral palsy, and with hearing impairments. To see them light up and have the same special outlet I did as a child warms my heart. So my theme this year, in honor of my cousin Darla, is “Dance is for Everyone” because everyone deserves the chance to dance. I am so proud to have started this journey last year with the help of DMA Advisory, by including classes at Teachers Training School and at National Convention on how to introduce special needs classes to your dance studio. This year we will expand on that by introducing our new special needs workshop. It is an intensive study that expands upon the program started last year. Thank you to DMA Advisory for bringing this DREAM to reality!! I am humbled and forever grateful!! Last year’s theme was Old Traditions and New Beginnings. I hope this new beginning becomes one of our old traditions.
Some of the wonderful traditions here at DMA are the awards given to honor our members and chapters. In New Orleans last summer the following members were honored: Jackie Olson was named 2017 DMA Member of the Year and Duanne Cazalot 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 pins. Chapter of the Year Award is given to the Chapter with the most growth. This award was presented to Chapter 6 Louisiana Association of Dance Masters. At the banquet DMA honored Robert Mann with The Lifetime Achievement Award, Lynne Formato with The DMA President’s Award, Charlotte d’Amboise and Terrence Mann with the DMA Award. They were all presented with proclamations for their widespread achievements in Dance.Congratulations to all of these outstanding individuals and deserving members!
The theme of the 2017 National Convention in New Orleans was…All That Jazz…what a wonderful time we had in what is known as the birthplace of Jazz!! Our outstanding faculty, the launch of our new website, introduction of Dancecomp Genie and our new tabulation program are just some of the exciting things that happened last year at DMA!!
This next year brings even more exciting events. We will continue with our Tier 5 program at Teachers Training School, two locations for Student Honors Intensive Program – Texas and New York. We have some exciting promotional videos getting ready to launch and I am looking forward to our National Convention in Anaheim 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 Elaine S. Dalton, “If you desire to make a difference in the world, you must be different from the world.” That is what Dance Masters started 134 years ago. We are an organization of leaders in the dance field, first education organization for dance teachers, first Teachers Training School. Many have followed and used the path that Dance Masters has set forth. Let us continue to be different and leave a trail for others to follow so we will continue to make a difference in this wonderful world of the arts.
Best wishes to all of you for a fantastic new dance season and I look forward to seeing you this summer at the 134th DMA National Convention in Anaheim, California.
Laura Y. Work
DMA National President