March 10, 2023

University hosting regional dance conference through March 15

More than 330 people from 22 universities are expected to come to Lincoln for the 2023 American College Dance Association North Central Conference, which UNL is hosting.

More than 330 people from 22 universities are expected to come to Lincoln for the 2023 American College Dance Association North Central Conference.

The Glenn Korff School of Music’s dance program will host the 2023 American College Dance Association North-Central Conference March 12-15 in Lincoln.

More than 330 people from 22 universities are registered to attend the conference. The region includes Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. Participants from additional states may attend.

“There’s a strong possibility that as time moves further along, that we may get people from other states,” said Susan Ourada, associate professor of dance and regional conference coordinator. “Some of the other regions are closed for adjudications, and people want to come and have their work adjudicated.”

Most of the performances will take place in the Temple Building’s Howell Theatre. Informal dances will also be held in the Nebraska Union Ballroom on the opening night of the conference.

“It’s really a celebration of all of these excellent works,” Ourada said.

The conference also includes classes, feedback, presentations and meetings, along with the four adjudication concerts and a Gala Concert.

A certain percentage of the adjudicated pieces will be chosen for the national conference May 25-28 in Long Beach, California.

Ourada is looking forward to showcasing the dance facilities at Nebraska.

“It’s really important for us to show off our beautiful new facilities,” she said. “I think the University of Nebraska–Lincoln is the perfect place to host a conference like this. The dance facilities are now part of the arts quadrangle. So many hotels and restaurants are within walking distance from the university. That they can have access to everything with five to 10 minutes of walking is incredible. And the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts is a gift, so we want to show off all of those things. Nebraska and dance just go hand in hand.”

The conference is also a good experience for Nebraska dance students.

“We’re a small program with two full-time and two part-time faculty. This gives them a chance to get a perspective from all across the country about not only the modern dance and ballet that they study here, but it’s a chance to take other forms of dance,” Ourada said. “It’s also a chance to see what the choreography from other schools looks like. ACDA prides itself as not being a competition, but is more about sharing. Yes, pieces are chosen for the gala and the national conference. But it allows our students to see that they look good and that they are progressing as university dancers. That’s really encouraging for them.”

Jordan Patt, a lecturer in dance and alumnus, attended the conference four times during her undergraduate career. She had two pieces she choreographed selected for the Gala her junior and senior years.

“ACDA was always a huge highpoint of my spring semester,” Patt said. “I loved taking classes from new teachers and dancing with all the students from other schools. ACDA brought a special type of energy to me, to be surrounded by so many blossoming artists. Being exposed to new teaching methods and seeing so many performances allowed me to grow so much in a short amount of time.”

She is excited that Nebraska is hosting the conference.

“It’s a great opportunity to share our gorgeous classroom and performance spaces with educators and students around the country,” Patt said. “It’s also a great way for our students to connect and grow their dance communities and show that Nebraska’s dance community is truly flourishing and shining. Performing and sharing my own work at ACDA Galas in the past gave me a taste of what it would be like to take my dance career to the next level. Having adjudicator feedback on my work was so helpful to me in that phase of my career. ACDA gives students a chance to connect and grow in such beautiful ways. Some of my favorite moments of my college career took place at ACDA festivals.”

Cindy Harms, a Nebraska dance alumna, said one of the best experiences as a dance major was having the opportunity to attend the regional conference and national American College Dance Festival.

“In spring 1992, UNL dance students and I attended the regional ACDA conference at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota,” Harms said. “I got to take several master classes, which challenged me and pushed me outside of my comfort zone. It was my first experience of having a performance adjudicated.”

During the conference, the university’s dance program was selected to attend and perform at the May 1992 national festival at Arizona State University.

“I had never flown on a plane before, nor been in a desert climate, so this was my first experience with both,” Harms said. “I loved the warm, dry Tempe weather, seeing palm trees, checking out the ASU campus, and eating at Chili’s, which I thought was really cool since I’d never had Tex-Mex food. I really enjoyed taking master classes, especially a jazz dance class taught by Billy Siegenfeld, artistic director of Jump Rhythm in Chicago. At the national festival, we performed choreography by dance alumnus Mark Jarecke at the Grady Gammage Performing Arts Center. It was an amazing experience that I’ll never forget.”

She said hosting the conference this year is a “huge honor” for her alma mater.

“Many generations of UNL dance students have greatly benefitted from attending an ACDA conference,” Harms said. “UNL and the greater Lincoln community should be proud that dance students and faculty from many colleges and universities will get to see the amazing, beautifud campus, dance in cutting-edge facilities like the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts, and experience the great hospitality and strength of the UNL dance program. The dance program is truly deserving of the honor of hosting the ACDA North-Central Conference.”

For more information on the conference, visit