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HomeNHSDA Award Winners 2016

NDEO's Artistic Merit, Leadership and Academic Achievement Award


Junior and Senior high school students who have been inducted into the National Honor Society for Dance Arts are eligible to apply for this award, one of the highest dance honors program in the US. Nominees are evaluated based on nine criteria of which three are in each category below each representing 100 points out of a 900 point grading rubric. Candidates for the award must excel in all three categories:

Artistic Merit: The candidate must demonstrate technical and artistic excellence in dance as evidenced by performing original choreography and a choreography essay.
Leadership: The candidate must demonstrate outstanding leadership in and outside the field of dance at the school, community, state, and/or national level as evidenced by a strong resume, recommendation letter, and leadership essay.
Academic Achievement: The Nominee must demonstrate academic excellence with a high cumulative grade point average and two essays detailing future plans and the impact of dance.
To learn more about the award, click here. To see the 2015 Award Winners, click here.

2016 Winners, Finalists, and Honorable Mentions

Winner - Joy Giuffre - Passaic County Technical Institute (NJ)
Finalist - Catherine Marrone - 24/7 Dance Studio (MD)
Finalist - Molly Roher - Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12 (PA)
Honorable Mention - Alyssa Harsock - Avon High School (IN)
Honorable Mention - Anaya Gass - Passaic County Technical Institute (NJ)
Honorable Mention - Taylor McQuilan - Perry High School (AZ)
Honorable Mention - Ramsey Miller - Studio Bleu Dance Center (VA)
Honorable Mention - Lauren Hawks - Westwood High School (AZ)

Choreography of Winner and Finalists

Winner - Joy Giuffre - Passaic County Technical Institute (NJ)

I set out to choreograph a piece in which I embody each of the Nine Muses of Greek mythology and illustrate what each inspires. The Muses were Greek goddesses who presided over the arts and sciences and provoked discovery and creativity for the people in those fields, and they are a great inspiration to me. While they are only a myth, I find it awe-inspiring that nine deities were thought to be the protectors of and influences for all things concerning the arts and sciences. I began by creating a pose to represent each Muse and serve as a symbol of what specific field they preside over, such as comedy, poetry, history, or music. The first Muse I began the piece with is Terpsichore, the Muse of dance, so she could serve as the inspiration for the piece, as a muse would. I then created movement for each Muse that encompasses the regality and etherealness possessed by all of the muses but also showcases what individual Muses represents. To end the piece, I linked the nine representative poses to conclude the illustration and embodiment of the Muses and tie them all together. For my music, I used a song that I found to be both inspiring and celestial with airy vocal melodies that I felt the muses would sing so that my music choice would reflect the subjects I was dancing about. I feel my music and movement choices are very representative of the inspirational goddesses.

Finalist - Catherine Marrone - 24/7 Dance Studio (MD)

The original choreography I produced is a tap solo performed to the song “I Know What You Did Last Summer” by Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello. I participate in a choreography class where the instructor uses different techniques and skills to teach me how to create a dance. In tap class, I practice improvising different tap steps into phrases of dance that give me ideas to further develop into a piece. My solo was created when I was asked to substitute, rather quickly, for an injured instructor. I developed a last minute combination to teach for two tap classes at my studio. After teaching the combination, I decided to show my tap instructor. He enjoyed my work and asked me to expand it into a solo. Some of the challenges of choreographing my solo included: not repeating the same steps, creating movements that would travel around the floor, and trying to find an emotion to fit the song. The beats and rhythms of this songs are so catchy I found myself moving my feet. Creating a routine for tap is more difficult compared to other styles of dance because of the restriction of predominantly using my feet to create the sounds and rhythms. Choreographing is a difficult but challenging process, but I enjoy the ability and freedom to express myself with my own movement.

Finalist - Molly Roher - Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12 (PA)

My solo, titled “Endangered Species”, is a statement about myself and my place in the world as a female, a dancer, and a human being. My experience as a woman in the 21st century is confusing, conflicted, and ever changing. The world is full of mixed messages for a girl growing up today. We are held to double standards, told that our our strength is unladylike but our weakness is undesirable. However, I find dance to be a source of empowerment for me and for so many others so I choreographed this solo as a vehicle to share the strength I have found through dance with myself and my audience. I want to show the balance and meeting point between strength and beauty, between wisdom and power, and between being a girl and a woman. I tried to incorporate movements that made me feel confident in my body and my art and I hope that every girl and woman who watches me dance feels a little stronger afterwards. This solo is meant to be a statement of strength and solidarity. I am strong and powerful. A challenge I faced in choreographing to a piece of music with lyrics was avoiding being too literal. Obviously my solo is carrying the same message as the lyrics, but that doesn't mean I want to act them out. Instead, I tried to work with the lyrics to create a cohesive message without being too lyrical.