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NMSU's Debra Knapp named University Dance Educator of the Year

New Mexico State University College of Education Director of Dance Debra Knapp has been named the University Dance Educator of the Year by the National Dance Association.


NMSU College of Education Director of Dance Debra Knapp holds her University Dance Educator of the Year Award.
New Mexico State University College of Education Director of Dance Debra Knapp has been named the University Dance Educator of the Year by the National Dance Association. (Courtesy Photo)

The award, presented in March at the American Alliance of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance convention in Boston, recognizes effective teaching methods that inspire college students toward a comprehensive appreciation for dance as a performing art and healthy lifestyle. Award recipients effectively apply a balanced and sequential curriculum based on the developmental, social and psychological needs of students. Emphasis is placed on the significance of dance as an integral cultural component that enables students to understand their own cultural heritage as well as that of others.

Knapp, an associate professor and the director of dance in the NMSU Department of Human Performance, Dance and Recreation, has choreographed more than 50 dances and produced 40 dance concerts. She has hosted the American College Dance Festival Association's 2011 conference, the National Dance Association's 2010 pedagogy conference, and the National Association of Ballet Folklorico's 2007 conference. She also has hosted several summer dance festivals, bringing national modern dance, African dance, Flamenco, and ballroom artists to the community. She also has been a keynote speaker at conferences and festivals both in the U.S. and in Mexico.

Knapp received national choreographic recognition from the American College Dance Festival Association and the National Dance Association, where her dance TOUCH was performed at these organizations' national conferences in New York and Fort Worth, Texas. She has received the Donald C. Roush award for teaching excellence and the Research Council's award for creative scholarly activity, both from NMSU.

Knapp has been an artist-in-education since 1977 as a dance and movement specialist. Her creative endeavors in education have included researching and implementing movement programs that enhance the curriculum for the kinesthetic learner for pre-school, elementary and middle school students. Currently she is working on the "Literacy Through Movement" project that is researching the impact of improving reading comprehension by including movement in language arts programs.