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"This festival provides a platform that celebrates talented young artists and their accomplishments, ensures a safe environment for student networking and gives students an opportunity to audition for major college/university programs in one setting."

Garfield Lemonius, M.F.A., chair and associate professor of dance

Nearly 1,500 students, chaperones, guest artists and recruiters from around the world experienced all things dance at the National High School Dance Festival, Feb. 26 - March 1, 2020, at Point Park University's Downtown Pittsburgh campus. 

"It was a treat to welcome guests from across the nation together with participants from other countries, including Australia, Canada and Taiwan," said Garfield Lemonius, M.F.A., chair and associate professor of dance. "This festival provides a platform that celebrates talented young artists and their accomplishments, ensures a safe environment for student networking and gives students an opportunity to audition for major college/university programs in one setting."

"The National High School Dance Festival has gained an outstanding reputation for embracing and perpetuating the highest standard for quality in dance education in high schools across our nation," said Kathryn Kearns, Ed.D., festival founder/executive director. "I want to thank Point Park University for hosting this amazing festival for a third time."

Highlights from NHSDF 2020

  • Opening ceremony at the Byham Theater featuring Parsons Dance, a New York City-based dance company. 
  • Scholarship auditions for dance programs and summer intensives in front of prestigious schools from across the country.
  • Gala concerts and informal concerts featuring students from high schools across the country and abroad.
  • More than 150 master classes led by guest artists and choreographers in Point Park's state-of-the-art dance facilities.
  • Master classes with Parsons Dance, featuring Point Park alumni Henry Steele '16 and DaMond Garner '18.
  • Workshops about the college admissions process, careers in arts management, business management, marketing for dance and performing arts, as well as creating and managing a professional dance company.
  • Campus tours.
  • Closing ceremony at the Byham Theater where hundreds of scholarships were awarded to students. 

"I was absolutely amazed at the raw talent demonstrated by this next generation of dancers. Our class, and the Parsons style is not an easy one to pick up, but by the end of the class they looked as though we had been working with them all week," said alumnus Henry Steele '16. "It was incredibly special to return to Point Park, which became like a second home during my time there."

Festival Feedback from Students and Teachers

Newtown High School of the Performing Arts, Newtown, Australia

"We absolutely love bringing our students to the National High School Dance Festival every two years. It is an important opportunity for our students to see where they fit in an international perspective and is an eye-opening experience for them to see opportunities that are available to them by traveling and studying overseas." — Leisa Munns, teacher 

"Coming to Downtown Pittsburgh from Sydney, Australia, to train and perform has been a surreal and enjoyable experience, as different teachers present varying outlooks of dance as a whole, allowing each student to collect and apply that knowledge to their own dancing." — Georgia Oom, student

Milwaukee High School of the Arts, Milwaukee, Wis.

"Some advice that I gained from this experience was to be more confident and not to hide that I am a beautiful dancer." — Maya Horsig-Smith, student

Cab Calloway School of the Arts, Wilmington, Del.

"We loved being able to connect with other dancers who have the same goals as we do. The facilities at Point Park University are beautiful and the overall experience has been life-changing for all of us. Our students, faculty and parent chaperones had a blast!" — Tara Madsen Robbins and Allyson Cohen-Sherlock, teachers

Grier School, Tyrone, Pa.

"It is so surreal to come to Downtown Pittsburgh; the teachers and dancers are so inspiring and supportive. It is the perfect environment for young dancers." — Kenzie Hearn, student

Enloe High School, Raleigh, N.C.

"It is extremely exciting to collaborate with students from all over the United States and abroad. It was a bit of a shock coming to a city where snow is common. I loved seeing how embedded Point Park's campus is in the city!" — Isabella Dobbs, student

New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, New Orleans, La. 

"Attending NHSDF was a very different environment for me, in cases of the weather and also stylistically how the classes are taught. I enjoyed my experience and do hope to come back to continue growing in my art form." — Aalaila Jenkins, student

Dr. Phillips High School, Orlando, Fla.

"NHSDF gives me a plethora of opportunities to be exposed to new dance styles and to be seen by many different schools. Training at Point Park is amazing. The studios are huge and the location of the campus in Downtown Pittsburgh is perfect." — Emmett Higgins, student

Photos by Point Park students Emma Federkeil, Nick Koehler and Mallory Neil

More About: dance, Conservatory Dance Company, National High School Dance Festival, master class, guest artists, jazz, faculty, ballet, alumni, modern, Downtown Pittsburgh, George Rowland White Performance Center