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NewsDec 2, 2019

Lesley dance/movement therapists win national recognition for contributions to the field

Faculty, students and alumni hailed at American Dance Therapy Association conference

A dancer leaps in a Lesley dance studio.

Lesley’s dance/movement therapists know how dance can change lives – and they were recently honored for their sweeping impact in the field.

Six faculty and alumni were recognized for innovation, leadership, excellence in teaching, and contributions to diversity and multiculturalism to dance/movement therapy during the annual conference of the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA), held in Miami in October.

A group of women up on a stage standing in a line and posing for a photo
Members of the Lesley community were recognized during the awards ceremony at the American Dance Therapy Association conference.

“It was really incredible to witness what a dynamic force Lesley therapists are on a national and international scale,” says Associate Professor Nancy Beardall, coordinator of our Dance/Movement Therapy Program (DMT). “Our involvement is vital as we expand the field and create increased access for diverse populations in bringing about change.”

ADTA is the governing body of dance therapy programs and practitioners across the United States. Each year, its board of directors chooses individuals and groups that have impacted the field in profound ways.

ADTA recognized the following members of Lesley’s dance/movement therapy community with awards:

Adjunct professor Dr. Charné Furcron received the Innovation Award for chairing the ADTA Board’s Multicultural Diversity Committee and bringing inclusive changes in the organization. Dr. Furcron teaches dance/movement therapy at Lesley and specializes in youth development and transforming young lives through dance. She also presented workshops at the conference. 

Lesley alumni Melody Gamba ’19, Ebony Nichols ’19 and Stephan Reynolds ’19 each received the Leader of Tomorrow Award, which is given to rising professionals in the dance/movement therapy field. The trio have “worked tirelessly,” says Dr. Beardall, noting that the three Lesley alumni helped to organize a powerful plenary, “Honoring Multiplicity: An Embodied Keynote Experience,” at the conference, in addition to presenting workshops.

Group photo of Lesley dance therapy alumni
Lesley alumni gathered for a festive reception during the American Dance Therapy Association conference.

Alumna Melinda Mahler-Moran ’13 received the Outstanding Achievement Award. Melinda has served on the ADTA Public Relations Committee since 2012. She is part of the leadership team and writes for the ADTA Blog and also directs the national group, Therapist Book Club. Melinda also presented workshops at the conference.

Adjunct professor Dicki Johnson Macy received the Excellence in Education Recognition Award. Macy teaches dance/movement therapy at Lesley and uses the techniques of Isadora Duncan and Rainbowdance to serve children impacted by developmental and neurological disorders, trauma and natural disaster, as well as caregivers. She also presented workshops at the conference.

In addition to the awards, Lesley faculty Dr. Robyn Cruz and Dr. Meg Chang were acknowledged for initiating the ADTA’s Multicultural Diversity Committee 10 years ago. They presented workshops at the conference as well.

Additional Lesley faculty who presented at the conference included Dr. Beardall, Dr. Valerie Blanc and Donna Newman-Bluestein, and additional alumni who presented include Laura Sanchez ’18 and Selena Coburn ’18. Selena presented with her father, Dugan Coburn, who is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Nation. Lesley students who presented at the conference include Brianna Anderson-Frazier, Carlie Silva, Rachel Kuntz and Jasmine Dowery.

Group of 5 women dressed up and posing for a photo at an awards ceremony
(L to r) Alumna Laura Sanchez, students Briana Anderson-Frazier, Carlie Silva and Rachel Kuntz, and dance/movement therapy professor Valerie Blanc all presented at the conference

Many Lesley alumni also attended an alumni reception in Miami during the conference and celebrated the achievements of our students, professors and alumni.