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NDEO Artistic Merit, Leadership and Academic Achievement Award

The 2020 Application will be available October 28, 2019.
Deadline to Apply:  January 31, 2020
Students who have been inducted into the National Honor Society for Dance Arts (NHSDA) Secondary Program and are current juniors and seniors in High School are eligible for the NDEO Artistic Merit, Leadership and Academic Achievement Award, the highest student dance award in the nation. The National Winner of the award will receive up to a $1000 scholarship and a certificate. There will also be National Finalists and Honorable Mention Recipients. Applicants may be eligible for a state level award if their NDEO State Affiliate chooses to present one. Personal congratulatory messages from NDEO's Executive Director are sent to the school district superintendent, school principal and state program arts coordinators (if contact information is provided by the applicant).
All National award recipients are invited to attend NDEO's National Conference, free of charge (not including travel and lodging). The award recipients can attend the conference to be publicly recognized for their award in front the 500+ NDEO members, participate in a choreography and performance workshop, and attend regular conference sessions. (Travel and lodging costs not included.) Traveling with a parent chaperone is recommended. If traveling with a dance teacher chaperone, teacher must pay conference registration fees.

Student Eligibility

The applicant must be an inductee of the NHSDA and a high school junior or senior student (16-18 years) studying dance in any private or public middle or high school, dance school/academy, performing arts center, or community center. The program may be in-school for credit or an out-of-school recreational/professional program. The student's NHSDA Chapter must hold a current NDEO Institutional Membership.

***Dance Instructors: It's not too late to start a chapter of the National Honor Society for Dance Arts (NHSDA) to induct your qualified students in time to apply for the award! Visit to learn more about the program and its benefits for you and your students***

Award Criteria

Applicants are rated based on the strength of their technical and artistic merit, leadership, and academic achievement. These categories are assessed through a self-choreographed solo video, two essay questions, GPA and transcript, recommendation letter and resume. Each category is worth 300 points for a total score of 900 possible points. The top two applicants with the highest score in their state sponsoring organization (where applicable) are forwarded on to the National office for national adjudication. The applicants are judged in three main categories:
  1. Artistic Merit: The Nominee must demonstrate artistic and technical excellence in dance.
    • Technical excellence as seen in solo video
    • Artistic Merit as seen in solo video
    • Essay #1: Choreography - What was the intent of your original choreography? Please provide title of work, inspiration, and any challenges you encountered in the choreographic process. (Limit 250 words)
  2. Leadership: The Nominee must demonstrate outstanding leadership in and outside of the field of dance at the school, community, state, and/or national level.
    • Recommendation Letter
    • Resume
    • Essay #2: Impact of Dance on Life - What impact has dance had on your life, in and out of the studio? How do you plan to use this influence in the future to have an impact on other people and communities? (Limit 500 words)
  3. Academic Achievement: The Nominee must demonstrate academic excellence with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher.
    • Overall school GPA of 3.0 or higher
    • Transcript (official or unofficial) 
    • Grammar and Writing Style - Based on Essay #1 and Essay #2


Student nominees complete the application entirely online using the Acceptd platform. The 2019 online application is now available at Mailed paper or emailed applications will not be accepted. The Chapter Sponsor identifies eligible NHSDA students and assists in completing their application online. Besides basic contact information the student will need to supply contact information for their school principal, and if possible, their district superintendent and fine arts coordinator.
The online application consists of basic student contact information and GPA (in x.x out of x.x format) and then file uploads of a chapter sponsor recommendation letter, school transcript (official or unofficial), resume, 2 short essays, along with a 3 minute video of applicant performing their own choreography, and two photos (head shot and dance photo). There is also a $25 application fee (payable only by credit card.) 

State Affiliates

NDEO has the following State Affiliates that support the NHSDA and may hold state level adjudications: AZ, CA, CO, FL, ID, IL, MA, MI, MD, MO, NC, NJ, NY, OR, RI, UT, WI, WA, and WV.


The deadline for student to complete the application, pay the $25 fee and hit the SUBMIT button at the end of application is January 31, 2020.

The student application submission will then trigger an email to Chapter Sponsor to upload an Award Recommendation Letter, which must be uploaded by February 7, 2020. This letter should explain why the student deserves the award, and provide examples of the student’s leadership, artistic merit and technical excellence. Please make sure the Chapter Sponsor checks their inbox for this email. If they do not receive an email entitled Documentation Request from Acceptd, please contact Acceptd customer service at As a backup measure the Chapter Sponsor can email the recommendation letter directly to