Perpich News

Mary Harding, Dance Instructor, Presents at National Dance Education Organization Conference

Harding (right) is pictured with Cleo Mack (Dance 1994) (left), Director of Dance at Middlesex County (NJ) Magnet School

October 12, 2023

Mary Harding, Perpich Dance Instructor and Dance Education Specialist, was a presenter at the national conference of National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) in late September/early October, 2023. Harding, who is also a member of the NDEO Policy Board of Directors, presented two workshops. Both her presentation, “Moving the Standards: Identity and Experience”, and her panel discussion, “Leadership from Flyover Country”, highlighted her work at Perpich as a dance instructor at Perpich Arts High School and as the dance education specialist for dance educators across the state of Minnesota. The conference, TEACHING IS LEADING: Embracing our Impact & Opportunity as Dance Educators, took place in Denver, Colorado.

Mary was thrilled to connect with two Perpich alumna who attended the NDEO conference and Mary’s sessions: Cleo Mack (Dance 1994), now Director of Dance at Middlesex County (NJ) Magnet School, and Carrie Brueck Morris (Dance 1996), Dance Curriculum Coordinator and Professor at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. “Legacy” was an underlying theme of this conference and “here it is represented by Perpich, reaching across the state and the country,” said Harding.

Harding is pictured with Carrie Brueck Morris (Dance 1996), Dance Curriculum Coordinator and Professor at Grand Valley State University in Michigan

Conference attendees were invited to explore the diverse ways they lead in the classroom, the studio, their communities, and elsewhere. Regardless of the setting where they teach or where they are in their careers, dance teachers are constantly guiding, managing, developing, advocating, directing, creating, and communicating. In Denver, they came together to explore and embrace their impact as leaders. “If you are a dance teacher, you are a leader.”

The National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) is a non-profit, membership organization dedicated to advancing dance education centered in the arts for people of all backgrounds. NDEO provides dance artists, educators, and administrators of all backgrounds a network of resources and support, a base for advocacy and research, and access to professional development opportunities that focus on the importance of dance in the human experience. As a Board member, Harding has worked on the Justice, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion audit, the By-laws Committee, and the Strategic Planning Committee. These opportunities build skills and knowledge that Harding uses to support the Minnesota dance educators.

Mary Harding has been head of the dance program at Perpich Arts High School since 1990. She created the curriculum for the current program and teaches the dance majors as well as elective courses. She has also worked on the Minnesota FACS (Framework for Arts Curriculum) project, the Minnesota Arts Standards and has presented at the Minnesota Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development conference, Minnesota DAPE conference, national and state AAPHERD conventions and at the Minnesota Dance Educator’s Coalition workshops. In her dance career she has performed professionally with ballet, jazz and modern companies in repertory ranging from Pas de Quatre to works by Bebe Miller. While a member of the Zenon Dance Company, Harding taught master classes and dance residencies in schools across the nation. In addition to her work at the arts high school, she continues to freelance as a choreographer, performer and teacher in the Twin Cities. She received the SURDNA Arts Teachers Fellowship for 2002 and studied at Bates Dance Festival as a result of this fellowship. The National Dance Association and Sportime named her the National Dance Teacher of the Year for 2002 and she was a featured teacher in the Annenberg Foundation’s video series “The Art of Teaching the Arts” which premiered in 2005. She received a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the College of St. Catherine. Her research, “Peer Coaching in the Arts Classroom,” received the Sister Ann Harvey Action Research Award in 2008 and was published in the June 2009 edition of Journal of Dance Education. Her article, “Assessment in the High School Technique Class: Creating Thinking Dancers,” was published in the September 2012 issue of the Journal of Dance Education.