Is Dance A Sport? NOT!

Image: Sharen Bradford,

Image: Sharen Bradford,

It’s an age old question, talked about more today because of all the dance competitions and TV shows.  A recent article in the Huffington Post put it all in prospective for me.  For a long time I was of the opinion that dance was not a sport, it is an art form. And this article confirms it for me.  In sports there are winners and losers.  The players are in it to win.  Dancers dance for many reasons.  Unless they are participating in a competition, they are not dancing for the trophy.  Dancers dance because of how it feels.  And what is the definition of a dancer? One who dances.  This is the long, graceful ballet dancer, the earthy, weighted modern dancer, the interpretive hula dancer, the fiery tango dancer, the elegant ballroom waltzer, the street wise hip-hop dancer, the person with Parkinson’s dancing for life, the high kicking Rockette, the musical comedy gypsies,  the injured using dance for therapy, the kids in the creative movement class, the sexy Apache dancer, the couple dancing in the kitchen as they make dinner, the father dancing with the bride, the recreational dancers and the serious dancers.  We are all dancers at some point in our lives.

Dance is one of the oldest art forms. It was how we first communicated.  It tells a story. It evokes responses.  Audiences are not required to like it or understand it. Sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t.  But we have to get past judging the tricks and allow ourselves to feel.  When you are moved by how it feels to dance you soar, and when you are moved by what you see it becomes theatre and allows for the “willing suspension of disbelief” and transforms into pure magic.

Here is a link to the article in the Huffington Post:


west parl_12259 aSusan Epstein was a dancer, educator and choreographer before becoming a consultant in the dance merchandising and event business.  She holds a BFA in Dance from SMU and did graduate work at CWRU and is on the board of NDWF.  Visit Susan’s website at



Dancer’s Inc – Dance Power Award by David Palmieri

As the CEO of Dancers Inc., one of the leading Competitive Dance companies in the US, David Headshot CroppedI’m no stranger to the competitive dance environment.  Dancers Inc. hosts events from coast to coast, and meets thousands of talented kids from a multitude of incredible dance studios all over the country.  I’m also a dedicated dance Dad, with two daughters who have been dancing collectively for over a decade. I’m heavily involved in their dance education at their studio, as well as fully invested in how they prepare, preform and conduct themselves at competitions.

Being a dancer takes dedication, drive, and determination. These are the lessons Dancers Inc. strives to pass along to all of our participants as they perfect their dance craft.

I can relate to the desire to instill a level of commitment and dedication in young dancers. At Dancers Inc., we try to play an active role in our competitors dance education by incorporating unique dance experiences, tailored to broaden their perspective. We provide an inspirational and positive performance environment. Competing and learning dance is not an easy task; for the dancer, the teacher, or the parent. It’s called a discipline for a reason. It’s hard work. In order to achieve your goals you need passion, drive, and above all, the willingness to accept criticism and take corrections.

At Dances Inc., we use the Dance Power Award to honor and recognize both individual dancers as well as dance studios who we feel help promote the same ideals that we strive to impart to every dancer that walks through our door, or steps on our stage.

Dance Competition

Thank You

There are times in our lives when we are privileged to follow in the footsteps of a true inspiration and difference maker.  As many of you know National Dance Week Foundation is near and dear to my heart because of its ability to encourage and motivate others in the community to celebrate their love of dance. It is a truly an inspiring foundation created for and supported by anyone and  everyone who enjoys dancing.  For many years this was led by Patti Goulding.  NDWF wishes to express its thanks and gratitude to this inspirational difference maker who built and laid the foundation from which I am able to continue on.Patti Goulding

Patti Goulding, former Executive Director of National Dance Week, passed away on Monday, February 9. Many UDMA members know that while National Dance Week was still under the auspices of the UDMA, Patti worked tirelessly to spread the word of the benefits of dance, and take the truly grassroots effort to be a part of many communities across the country.

She developed the regional delegate program, recruited many of the celebrity and educational spokespeople that came on board, worked with Angelina Ballerina to develop a partnership, and got many non-dancing and dancing folks alike to be involved in National Dance Week events. Prior to coming to National Dance Week and the UDMA, she operated her own dance studio and raised her family in Pittsburgh, her hometown.

It has been my privilege and honor to carry on in the tradition that Patti has set for NDWF. Please join me to help make National Dance Week April 24-May 3, 2015 the best ever.

Cathy Graziano

Executive Director NDWF



My Journey by Cheri Eagan – NDW Committee Member and Art Stone Costume’s Texas Customer Care Representative

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I’ve always thought of myself as a good observer of Dance. As a child and young adult  my passion was Dance. Then I advanced into larger projects involving more than just Dance Education – the Dance Industry itself -the side that influences and supports the dance educator. I have been blessed to be one of the rare dance world citizen’s to have seen and personally visit hundreds of Dance Studios across Texas and Louisiana. I have been blessed to kindle relationships one on one with the most genuine men and women teaching our children today. I’ve listened to studio owners achievements, struggles, stresses , compassion and drive. are far advanced in their journey, some are just beginning

This is my journey. I’ve probably watched over 30,000 competition routines, having adjudicated for several organizations over my career. Along with over 20 years of producing recitals and other various community events. Wow have I seen Dance progress over the decades.

IMG_2815 (480x640) (2)I come from the age of Califone record players with variable speed, to Albums and Al Gilbert dance conventions. When bought albums, and could not listen to them before leaving the store.  We wore white jazz shoes and looked like a Jane Fonda workout tape. We could not go to YouTube to pick 8 counts.  Book keeping was ledgers and communication and advertisement was an ad in the local paper, and your yellow pages monstrous phone book.

One season as a studio owner I found myself struggling and needed something to give me a boost. It was in the 80’s. I discovered National Dance Week.  NDW was in its true grass roots beginnings so I had to figure out how to implement all these simple ideals with no resources. I decided to hold a free festival.

I began in January and I started to research dance studios that I wanted to invite to perform at the festival. I wanted a mix of different genres of dance so we had cloggers, we had Irish dancers, dance studios with the competition teams and the Arthur Murray dance studios with the ballroom dancing. I filled the day giving each organization a 15-30 minute window they could stand up and lecture about their studio, location and what they were offering to basically promote their businesses. Then I got a free banner donated from a costume company along with free marketing in the local newspaper and in a local magazine. I was able to get a family to donate $700 so that I could get a large tent. I borrowed Marley dance floor from a local dance studio. And the sound system was provided by the park that allowed me to do the festival. Our first festival was wonderful.

Moving into the second year to hold the festival I was contacted by Dance Teacher Magazine and they did an article on myself and another school in Arizona that held a lecture/festival for National Dance Week. It was so cool to be written up by Dance Teacher Magazine ….. that was a big deal for me.

Now I get to hold National Dance Week festivals in conjunction with my community’s Kids Fest –  a day where my city shuts down the entire downtown and they hold all these different activities with dogs, games, rides and activities. National Dance Week takes place on  the cultural arts stage and I hang a banner that’s been donated by Art Stone Incorporated. In support of National Dance Week Foundation we “celebrate dance and promote fun fitness” .  We invite several drill teams, dance studios, flamenco dancers and theater groups basically anything and all cultural arts performances. I’ve had the fortune to invite from the Houston ballet and draw people in from the city. I’m not charging these organizations to come perform.
I have guest speakers throughout the day, talk about dance and the importance it is to our health, our culture, our society and our everyday life. That is what National Dance Week Foundation is about and why you – the dance teacher should be more involved – this is your business.

Share your love. Share your art. Use this free tool to your businesses advantage. For me my biggest reward is to see the children that participate that never get to go to dance competitions that never will be superstars in their studios but for a brief moment they are on that National Dance Week festival stage. There’s no pressure for them there’s no award or trophy or critique at the end of the day. There’s just the joy in their smile and the success of what they accomplished that day. That brings my heart great joy!

What I am encouraging is for everyone and anyone to do something in their community no matter where you are in this world or in the United States or in a little one stop sign town get involved in a small way. Like me!
Remember it is for the love of…… DANCE!!!


To Dance Honest is to GIVE by Founder & Co-Owners, Paula Dell-Beasley with Jill S. Reeves, Fusion National Dance Competition


Dance provides many wonderful benefits to those who choose to participate.  Physically, mentally and socially, children and youth, in particular, are able to learn and grow from this expression of art.  At Fusion National Dance Competition, we believe everyone is unique, yet at the same time, we all share the same passion for dance.

During our conventions and competitions, it is a time where dancers can come together; no matter what studio they belong to, because of the passion we share for dance.  Even more so, we come together in hopes to GIVE instead of TAKE.  To explain this concept further, think of dance like a flower.  We give things to a flower in order for it to grow, such as fertilizer, sunlight and water.  If we take these things away, the flower dies.  The same is true with dance.  We must GIVE to dance in order to grow.  If we just dance in order to receive a medal or trophy, we are just taking.

Through our attitudes, our time, our sacrifices we give to dance which allows for growth.

Basically, to dance honest means to GIVE not to TAKE.  When we see that true passion and love for dance, we see an individual who doesn’t care about the “pot of gold at the end of the rainbow”.  We see an individual who has found true happiness in what they have been given the opportunity to do and therefore we see a dancer who is GIVING.

At Fusion NDC, we utilized the Dance Power Award at our Fall Conventions by allowing our faculty to select dancers who exhibited “the honesty of dance”.  Dance Power was received by dancers who exhibited passion, energy, and excitement just because they were taking the opportunity to GIVE!

We love to see dancers GIVE and we hope to continue presenting the Dance Power award in recognition of those dancers who exhibit the “honesty of dance”!

Dance Competition

What Dance Means To Me by Melissa Hoffman – Melissa Hoffman Dance Academy

melissa hoffman headshot colorWhen tasked with the question “What dance means to me” the simple answer is “Dance it life!”  I could write for days all the different ways dance has positively influenced my life, but I will focus on one of my personal loves and that is being able to teach and influence the growth of our youngest dancers age 2.

Twenty years ago when I chose to begin teaching two year olds many of my dance peers thought I was crazy to attempt to teach kids this age.  Initially I thought maybe I was crazy!  But, I soon learned how rewarding teaching this age can be!  Think about it, you get to act crazy for 45 minutes; and the crazier the better.  After all to teach a two year old you need to be one!  This age believes you are the best thing they know, no matter what you do!  I cannot say how many days I have arrived at the studio, forcing the smile on my face and within 10 minutes of teaching this group the smile was genuine.  The amount of growth in terms of gross motor skills and social skills that can be gained at this age continues to amaze me!

Let’s talk how teaching this age can help business!!  I choose to teach the two year olds with a parent there to help in the process.  This is a great opportunity for them to get to know me as a teacher and person, not just a name on the door!  I am fortunate that we have a 97% retention rate with these classes.  Thus, teaching the next generation to love dance!


A story about courage and inspiration by Gina Assetta – NDWF Executive Board Member

When I was asked to write for the NDWF blog I thought I’d write about how I’ve watched National Dance Week grow over the last 9 years.  I’d like to save that topic for another day and talk about how dance inspires me.  I’m not a dancer, yet I have worked closely with dance teachers and those in the industry since 1999. I also grew up near Boston and still live in Massachusetts.  The bombings at the Boston Marathon in 2013 deeply affected me. Not only was I devastated that people can be so cruel to others, but I was proud of my city and how they worked together to find the bombers, and how they stood united to show the world how strong we can be when united.

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One of the survivors is Adrianne Haslet-Davis, a ballroom dancer (notice that is not in the past tense).  On the day of the bombings, she lost her left leg below the knee.  She was at the race on a whim, with her husband newly returned from Afghanistan.  On the day they were celebrating his safe return.  Despite knowing that no amputee has ever before danced- she knew she would do it.  And she did. Less than a year after her tragedy.  Not only did dance inspire her to work towards her goal, but she inspires the rest of us.  Since I saw her first dance on youtube I have thought of her frequently.

Many of you reading this blog are dancers yourself and will most likely be familiar with her story on some level.  Why am I writing a blog about her in January- it’s not an anniversary of the bombing?  She hasn’t been in the news recently.  I’m writing about it because when I think of the mission of National Dance Week, to celebrate dance and promote fun fitness.  Every time Adrianne dances, she celebrates dance.  The “fun” she puts into dance is not easy, or something to take for granted.  Her drive to do what brings her joy has inspired me in my daily life to work harder to achieve and realize my own goals.

For an in depth view of Adrianne’s journey, watch Adrianne Haslet-Davis: The Survivor Diaries (2014)


Sports Nutrition for Dancers By Shantha M. Wilson, R.D.

Wraps - Jan 2015

As dancers, you know your body is your instrument.  But have you ever thought of yourself as an athlete?  Dancers are indeed athletes, with many dancers training 6-8 hours per day five to six days per week.  Sports nutrition is key for dancers, just as it is for all athletes.  Good nutrition is critical for energy, for the body to repair itself daily, and for injury prevention.  Adequate calories, protein, and water are necessary for your body to keep up with the demands of strenuous dance training for hours every day.  Proper nutrition is key to high performance and injury prevention.  Nutrient timing is also an important component of sports nutrition.  A proper diet will fuel your body correctly, allowing you to perform at your highest level.

Don’t starve yourself!  Your body needs adequate fuel in order to perform. This is much like fuel for a car.  The car won’t run without it.  Neither will your body.  You can’t have your best extensions or leaps without proper energy.  Many dancers limit food prior to an audition so that they look extra lean.  The most likely consequence of extreme calorie limitation is that you don’t have enough energy to get through the day’s class schedule.  This is because you have depleted glycogen stores of fuel in your body.  The second consequence to calorie limitation is injury, which can cause you to sit out for a period of training, performance, competition, or audition, and possibly be permanent.

By the same token, the proper fuel is required for your body to perform at its peak.  Similarly to a car, if you add water or diesel instead of unleaded fuel to a car, it will not run properly.  If you don’t have enough or the right fuel for your journey, your car will stop running before you get to your destination.  This is similar to dance athletes needing proper nutrition to fuel the body.  Not only do you need enough fuel to get you through your class and rehearsal schedule, you need the right kind of fuel (nutrients) to avoid crashing in the middle of activity.  In other words, eating junk food won’t get you through your schedule or allow you to perform at your peak.  You will crash in the middle of your scheduled day or performance.  Does this mean a dancer can never have any sweets or other empty calories?  Not at all.  The key is moderation and timing.  A good guideline to remember is no more than 10% of your daily calories should come from sweets or empty calories.  An average female dance athlete needs 2,000 calories per day which means 200 calories or less come from treats.

To properly fuel your body and avoid injury, dancers need adequate carbohydrate, protein, fat, and water.  To receive these essential nutrients, eat foods that are as close to their natural state as possible that are made up of mostly whole, unrefined foods that retain their nutrients and fiber.  This is the rule for the majority of your food intake.  Right before, during and after an event, think of fueling more than nutrition.  At these times, eating refined or processed foods make the most sense so that food is digested easily and energy can get to muscles quickly such as a sports drink, protein bar, or protein shake.  It is important to include carbohydrate and protein in the post workout/recovery window.  Recovery nutrition occurs 15 minutes to one hour following exercise.  The carbohydrate does more than restore energy, it helps with immune function and decreases the amount of muscle breakdown.  Protein has a slower absorption rate than carbohydrate and will help build muscle.  Be sure to eat a small amount of protein along with carbohydrate and fat at each meal and snack to maximize muscle building and repair.

Since fats can cause discomfort and possibly impair performance, choose dietary fat at meals and snacks further away from training and performance or competition.  Choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as avocado, nuts and nut butters, and olive, canola, or avocado oils.  Omega -3 and omega-6 fats from fish are also good choices.

During training sessions of two hours or longer, drink 16-20 oz. sports drink or water and a few pretzels or crackers.  Fifteen minutes following your training session, eat a protein bar or a protein shake or a snack with equivalent protein and carbohydrate similar to the sample AM/PM snack above.  Drink at least 64 oz. of water throughout the day to stay hydrated.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAShantha M. Wilson, R.D. received a B.S. in Clinical Dietetics from Brigham Young University.  She has worked as a dietary director for Sunrise Healthcare Corporation.  She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) and is in private practice.  Shantha offers consultations and classes for dance studio patrons to make life easier and healthier.  She participated in dance and cheerleading in her youth and competed in ballroom dance during college.  Shantha resides in Arizona with her husband and three children and works as a freelance contributing editor.  She also started ShOvation Online Ticketing which is another service offered to make life easier for dance studio owners and their families.  Contact:  This content is copyrighted and used by National Dance Week with permission.



A NDWF’s cookbook receipe

Wish Come True

Enjoy this wonderful appetizer from A Wish Come True

Spicy Shrimp and Crab Bruschetta

6 servings

¼ bottled clam juice

6 ounces uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined

6 green onions, thinly sliced

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 ounces crabmeat, drained

½ baguette, cut diagonally into 1/3 inch thick slices

3 tablespoons olive oil

Bring clam juice to boil in medium saucepan. Add shrimp; reduce heat to medium, cover and cook just until shrimp are opaque in center, about 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon transfer shrimp to cutting board; cool. Coarsely chop shrimp.

Mix sliced green onions, mayonnaise, lemon juice, paprika and cayenne in medium bowl. Mix shrimp and crabmeat. Season with salt and pepper (Can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Cover and chill.)

Preheat oven to 375. Bush both sides of baguette slices lightly with oil; arrange in single layer on baking sheet. Bake until bread is golden, about 10 minutes. Cool. Mound shrimp mixture atop bread. Place on platter and serve.


Let’s help dancers follow their dreams and discover their future by Susan Epstein NDWF Board Member and owner West Park Productions

SMU, Meadows School of the Arts Division of Dance.  Sharen Bradford.

SMU, Meadows School of the Arts Division of Dance. Sharen Bradford.

About a year ago a colleague of mine sent me an e-mail from a distraught parent.  It seems his daughter, we’ll call her Kelly, wanted to earn a bachelor’s degree in dance. With misguidance from high school counselors or her parents or dance teachers, Kelly chose a large state school that had a dance department with a good reputation.  In her first year there she discovered that there were not many opportunities for undergraduates as the dancers in the graduate program were given the performing and choreographing slots first.  So Kelly transferred to a smaller college where she had many more chances to perform and choreograph.

In her junior year her parents came to see an adjudication concert.  Instead of being thrilled with their daughter’s performance, they said “to our eyes, she not only has not grown as an artist, but also seems to have taken a bit of a step back.  Watching the other dancers, we saw what looked like a real lack of fundamentals.  Our concern now is that the standards there are not high enough to give her a decent chance of a career in the field.”

And they had questions – Was it too late for the daughter to have a career? Was there another school for her to go to? Should she pursue a Master’s degree?

I only wish this was an isolated occurrence. I have heard of similar situations time and time again.  Of course there are many different answers to the parents questions, but my thoughts are how did this happen?  Why weren’t the parents and the dancer better informed to make more intelligent choices to begin with? Are the parent’s expectations the same as the dancers? What kind of dance career did Kelly want? What were the other factors like school size and location that entered into her choices?

Choosing the right dance program can be a painful process, but dance college and career information IS out there.  The problem is the information is so fragmented it’s difficult to navigate. Add that to the many misconceptions about dance as a career, not just a hobby, and it spells confusion and missed opportunities.

And I am not the only one to see that we need to make a sea change and help educate parents, school counselors, dance teachers and dancers about the wonderful choices there are for every dancer so that they are able to keep dance in their lives, forever. Many dance organization/institutions are now hosting college days to bring together students and program.  Just google dance college fairs and you’ll get a short list of events.

The Dance College Guide published by Dance Media is also a terrific resource.  It lists over 651 colleges and describes their programs in detail. The sister website Dance U101 has a library of articles related to the subject.   h

But most of all: do your homework – ask yourself the hard questions- and take the time to match your dreams with your future.