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NewsJan 11, 2021

Dance therapy conference honors Lesley community members

American Dance Therapy Association recognized at annual event

Dancers as part of a movement therapy class in a studio dancing with fabric.

Several Lesley dance/movement therapists took home ADTA honors from this fall’s virtual conference of the American Dance Therapy Association. Lesley faculty Dr. Charné Furcron received the Exceptional Service Award, alumna Selena Coburn ’18 received the Leader of Tomorrow Award, and faculty member and visiting scholar Dr. Meg Chang received the ADTA Lifetime Achievement Award.

Woman in Indigineous headdress and clothing
Selena Coburn ’18, a descendent of the Blackfeet, Klamath and Pitt River tribes, received the Leader of Tomorrow Award.

Associate Professor Dr. Nancy Beardall, coordinator of our Dance/Movement Therapy program, said 2020 marked the third consecutive year Lesley community members have been honored at the association’s annual conferences, though the pandemic forced it to be held virtually for the first time.

“The virtual conference brought together the national and international dance/movement therapy community,” Beardall said. “The opening and the closing ceremonies were led by Stephan Reynolds (MA ’19), currently a PhD student in Expressive Therapies, assisted by Ebony Nichols (MA ’19) and set the tone for change in our organization.”

The 10th anniversary of the association’s Multicultural Diversity Committee was celebrated through the inaugural Shared Space Rose Gold Reception, initiated and organized by alumna and faculty member Stefanie Belnavis ’15, alumna Melody Gamba ’19, along with the committee’s secretary Ambria Cunningham.

Faculty member Dr. Valerie Blanc reflected on the Rose Gold Reception, saying, “The reception was such an incredibly moving and exciting space. I appreciated the way that the Shared Space Committee facilitated collective movement experiences, acknowledgment of the incredible work of DMTs of color, recognition of the work of the affinity groups as well as research and scholarship projects. 

Meg Chang headshot
Visiting scholar Dr. Meg Chang received the ADTA Lifetime Achievement Award.

“I left the space feeling such pride in the work of my DMT colleagues in the Multicultural and Diversity Committee and inspired to continue to do my part going forward.”

This celebration focused on the “history, growth, support and accomplishments of our BIPOC therapists and students,” Beardall said, adding that faculty members Chang, Dr. Robyn Cruz and Dr. Angela Grayson were among those honored as “inaugural leaders” of the committee.

During the Shared Space activities, current student Patricka James and alumnae Ruta Pai ’20, Violet Li ’20 and Krystal Garcia ’20, were highlighted, with Krystal sharing their project, “People Not in the Books: The Voices of Multiplicity in Dance Therapies.”

The coordinator also expressed her enthusiasm about Lesley’s award winners, highlighting their contributions to the university as well as the field of dance/movement therapy (DMT).

Photo of Charné Furcron
Lesley faculty Dr. Charné Furcron received the Exceptional Service Award.

Regarding Dr. Chang’s award, Beardall said, “This was a well-deserved award celebrating Dr. Chang and her outstanding contributions as innovative leader, author and educator to the dance/movement therapy field over the years.”

Beardall added that Furcron, “a beloved faculty member and chair of the (association’s) Multicultural Diversity Committee, received the Exceptional Service Award for her tireless leadership in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion” within the association. Similarly, the Leader of Tomorrow Award was presented to Coburn, a descendent of the Blackfeet, Klamath, and Pitt River tribes, who founded the Native American Affinity group of the ADTA and has served on the board of the Texas chapter.

A number of faculty, alumni and students also presented workshops at the conference.

“There was such a feeling of reconnection and connection during these very challenging times,” Beardall said. “I feel great appreciation and gratitude for, and extend congratulations to, all who made this event memorable.”