Montana Dance Arts Association (MDAA) operates statewide and serves Montana dance students, teachers and artists. MDAA is the only organization of its kind in the country and it continuously receives rave reviews from dance professionals from across the nation. In the art of dance, Montana is both geographically and culturally isolated from the rest of the country. There is a strong need for a cost-effective means to enhance the art of dance statewide by providing rural and urban communities access to high quality dance education opportunities found outside of Montana’s borders. Through MDAA workshops and scholarships, Montana dance students are exposed to additional, cutting edge dance techniques and high quality instruction from professional out-of-state guest faculty members. Many Montana dance students, especially from rural communities, may only have the opportunity to learn from one teacher throughout their dance training. For many students, attending MDAA workshops is the only opportunity they have to learn from various instructors and broaden their dance education. These experiences translate to a higher proficiency in their technical and artistic growth. Well trained dancers mean higher quality performances on the local level. High quality performances spark an interest in dance and further promote the art of dance in Montana. MDAA has had former students and scholarship recipients who have gone on to professional dance careers eagerly return to the state to teach as guest faculty members, therefore continuing the cycle of improving dance education in Montana. Having developed a strong appreciation for the art form, whether or not they pursue a professional career, MDAA students most often become patrons of dance performances and the arts. MDAA workshops are just as important to Montana dance instructors as they are to Montana dance students, serving as their connection to the professional dance world. Twice a year Montana dance instructors have the opportunity to participate in or observe classes taught by the guest faculty and are exposed to additional teaching techniques. With improved and additional tools for teaching, local teachers raise the level of proficiency in their students.
MDAA holds a three-day Fall Workshop in October and a two-day Spring Workshop in April. The location of these workshops moves from city to city and is most often held in Belgrade, Great Falls, Helena, or Missoula. The workshops offer classes in classical ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, hip-hop and modern dance. These classes are taught by guest faculty members who travel to Montana from professional dance companies and schools from across the nation. More often than not, MDAA makes use of the specialized talent of its guest faculty and incorporates additional classes into the workshops such as; improvisation, repertory, steppin’, African and injury prevention classes.
Previous MDAA professional guest faculty members have included;
Ballet: Marcus Bugler, Sharee Lane, Judy Rice, Le Mai Linh, Otto Neubert, John Magnus, Peter Christi, Tim Lynch, Deborah Hess, Stephanie Saland, Elizabeth Shipiatsky, Wang Shao-Pen and Frank Bays.
Jazz/Hip-Hop: Randy Duncan, Jeff Amsden, Hector Guerrero, Kim Hale, Daniel Cruz, Susan Quinn Williams, Theo Ivey, Elizabeth Ponarelli, Michael Peele, Jesse Johnson, Brandon Koepsell and Kevin Bender.
Tap: Lisa Hopkins, Gene Medler, Steve Zee, Julie Cartier, Josh Hilberman, Germaine Salsberg, Anthony Peters, Nicholas Young, Caleb Teicher, Michela Marino Lerman, Acia Gray and Cheryl Johnson.
Modern: Donna Jewell, Sonia Dawkins, Cleo Parker Robinson, Colleen Thomas Young, Nicole Wolcott, Angela Banchero-Kelleher, Rebecca Loft, Edward Taketa, Hilary Easton, Jamie Louise Wollenberg and Joe Goode.
MDAA Professional Members receive Fall Workshop scholarships to award to their students. Members are encouraged to award them to students who need financial assistance in order to attend the workshops.
Montana dance students have the opportunity to adjudicate for scholarships for summer dance study both in and out of Montana during the MDAA Spring Workshop. MDAA awards close to fifty scholarship annually. The total value of cash and tuition scholarships awarded each year is over $20,000.00
MDAA scholarship recipients have had the opportunity to study at nationally renowned professional dance programs such as;
Ballet: ABT Summer Intensive, Ballet Austin, Ballet Idaho, Ballet San Jose, Ballet West, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Colorado Ballet, Contra Costa Ballet, Goh Ballet Academy, Joffrey Ballet Intensive, Juilliard Summer Dance Intensive, Kansas City Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Pittsburg Ballet Theatre, Summer Dance Lab and Harvard Summer Dance Program.
Jazz: 24 Seven, Boulder Jazz Dance Woprkshop, Broadway Arts Alliance, Dancerpalooza, Edge Performing Arts, Gus Giordano Summer Intensive, Interlochen Arts Camp, JUMP, LA Hip-Hop Intensive, Lou Conte Dance Studio, NUVO, Tremaine Summer Dance Intensive, Triple Arts at National Dance Institute and Vineyard Arts Project.
Modern: Alvin Ailey Summer Intesive, K + C Summer Intensive at the Juilliard School, RDT Young Dancer Workshop, Snowy Range Summer Dance Festival, Vail Dance Institute and Young Dancer's Workshop at Bates College.
Tap: Chicago Human Rhythm Project, LA Tap Festival, Motor City Tap Festival, St. Louis Tap Festival, Tap Kids, Tapestry Dance Company,
In-State Workshops: Dance The Divide - Helena, Feat by Feet - Whitefish, Montana Regional Dance Intensive - Livingston, On Center Performing Arts - Missoula, Queen City Ballet - Helena, Quench - Belgrade, School of Classical Ballet - Billings and Summer Dance Study - Great Falls.
Jewell Choreography Prize
The goal of expanding the dance opportunities and experiences students have in Montana was met in the spring of 2015 with the addition of the Jewell Choreography Prize. Donna Jewell, a MDAA workshop guest modern dance instructor, was so impressed with the work that MDAA does offered to fund a prize for student choreography. The mission of the Jewell Choreography Prize is to foster original and well-crafted student choreography by students of dance who are in an institution/school which is a member of MDAA. The objectives of this prize are to:
Promote creativity and craft in dance choreography by non-professional dancers in Montana
Provide objective adjudication of student choreography in the selection of the prize winner
Award the prize to the most artistically deserving student in accordance with the prize criteria
Allow the awarded student to apply the prize to the dance educational experience of their choice
After following the guidelines set forth by both Donna Jewell and the MDAA Board of Directors, student choreographers present their work to a panel of guest adjudicators at the MDAA Spring Workshop.
The purpose of the MDAA Teacher Fellowship is to allow MDAA professional members to expand their knowledge of dance or dance-related studies and improve their skills. Funds may be used to attend dance-related workshops and/or to cover travel expenses for such events. Dance-related workshops could include topics related to business management, choreography, production, and use of technology. Teacher Fellowships are awarded annually at the Spring Workshop.