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Dance Masters of America History


In 1884, the American National Association Masters of Dancing was founded in Boston, MA and in 1894, the International Masters of Dancing held its first convention in St. Louis, MO.  For several years, attempts were made to bring the two organizations together. In 1926 they held a joint convention at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City and on August 27th, 1926 the two organizations became one and the Dancing Masters of America was formed.  In 1948, the name was changed to Dance Masters of America, Inc. chartered in Hartford, CT.

Through the dedicated efforts of Mr. Mose Christensen, then President of the American National Association Masters of Dancing, the first Teacher’s Normal School was held in 1918 in New York City.  Ballet was the only subject taught – with Signor Mascagno as Ballet Master.  Six years later other forms of dance were added.  In 1970 the name was changed to Teachers Training School which was held at Kent State University in Kent, OH. In 1997 the Teachers Training School was moved to the State University of New York at Buffalo, in Buffalo, NY.

Except for the postponements mandated by World War II and the Covid-19 Pandemic in 2020, the Teachers Training School and/or National Conventions have been in continuous operation since 1884.

The first Regional Convention was held in 1953 in Los Angeles to accommodate members unable to attend the National Conventions. In 1991 Regional Conventions were discontinued and all activities since 1991 are now held at the National Convention.

In 1934, Chapters were formed throughout the United States with a Chapter-At-Large to accommodate members who live in areas too far from an established Chapter.  Members outside the United States are invited to join the Chapter of their choice including the Chapter-At-Large and the Canadian Chapter.  Dance Masters of America, Inc. is an international organization with members throughout the world.  The organization has experienced tremendous growth, both in members and in coverage of the dance profession.

The first DMA Annual Award was presented in 1963 to Ernie Flatt and has since been presented annually.  The first Presidents Award was presented in 1994 to Sherry Gold and has since been presented annually. 


The first Miss Dance of America Scholarship Competition was held in 1963. Since then the Dance Masters of America has expanded their Solo Title Scholarship Competitions to include both boys and girls. We now have a Miss Dance of America Scholarship Competition, Mr. Dance of America Scholarship Competition for dancers between the ages of 16 and 23, a Teen Miss Dance of America Scholarship Competition, a Teen Mr. Dance of America Scholarship Competition for dancers between the ages of 13 and 15, a Junior Miss Dance of America Scholarship Competition, a Junior Mr. Dance of America Scholarship Competition, for dancers between the ages of 10 and 12, a Petite Miss Dance of America Scholarship Competition and a Master Dance of America Scholarship Competition for dancers between the ages of 7 and 9 years of age.

Since dance education is the forefront of DMA, in 1964, the Convention held in Washington, DC included a “Junior Division of Master Classes” and the first “Performing Arts Scholarship Competition” and a “Teenage Ballroom Competition”.

The DMA Scholarship Fund was established on November 25, 1976 with $15,000.00 from a passbook account of DMA.  Upon receiving an additional bequest from the estate of member Edna R. Passapac, a Scholarship Committee was formed in October 1977. DMA is proud to award over $200,000.00 annually to both Teachers and Students.
A long-standing Welfare Fund, now the Friendship Fund was established to assist members on a temporary basis in an emergency situation such as fire or serious medical need, for which financial assistance is necessary.  The assistance is a confidential arrangement. DMA is very proud of its philanthropic pursuits.

The DMA historian collects and maintains memorabilia of the national organization and protects the integrity of the contents.  Photographs and written records date back to the origin of DMA. If you attend any of the DMA National Conventions please look for our TV monitors where our history and our history makers come to life.

The Past Presidents’ Council was formed in 1978 – comprised of the National Past Presidents so that DMA may continue to benefit from their knowledge and experience after they leave office. They also serve as the DMA Ethics Committee.

DMA is constantly striving to maintain excellence in dance education which is the keystone of this organization.  Manuals and DVD Supplements, in each area of dance are available to members and non-members alike. The manuals are great asset for members and non-member to use teaching guides and learning tools or to assist non-member to prepare for DMA Membership Examinations. The Manuals are constantly updated and upgraded so that they remain on top of the constantly evolving world of dance education.

The DMA Student Honors Intensive Program (S.H.I.P.) was established in 2002 and precedes the TTS Program at the University of New York at Buffalo. This program provides a curriculum for the advanced students between the ages of 13 and 18 by helping expand their knowledge of dance both technically and artistically and prepare them for the professional job demands of today. 

When Dance Masters of America entered into its 125th Anniversary Year of Celebration the National Board of Directors with the approval of the membership renewed our dedication to teaching the Art of Dance with a renewed mission statement that reads:

Dance Masters of America is a professional, certified membership organization of artists and educators committed to the elevation of the art of dance and to provide innovative artistic experiences for the advancement of dance worldwide.

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