2024 DEL Lab Schools Recipients

Congratulations to the 2024 DEL Lab School Recipients!

We are thrilled to honor 9 dance educators for their innovative and inspiring work in dance education: 
Lauren Alzos-Benke | Katrina Brown-Aliffi | Kerrianne Cody
Victoria Dobson | Mher Kandoyan | Hetty King
Ashlie Kirby | Danielle Staropoli | Erin Strong
The DEL Lab School initiative is designed to acknowledge and celebrate dance educators who are bringing the DEL Model to life in their unique teaching contexts. We extend our utmost gratitude to these educators for actively making “Dance for Every Child” a reality! Read on to learn more about each 2024 DEL Lab School recipient.

... and celebrate these 9 dance educators on May 22 at 5:30 pm ET!

Lauren Alzos-Benke, 9-12

Sunset Park High School

Lauren Alzos-Benke teaches dance with a focus on choreography at Sunset Park High School in Brooklyn. She founded the program in 2009, after 7 years as a foreign language classroom teacher. Lauren believes that every person has a unique way of moving and students in her class discover more about themselves through risky, creative endeavors resulting in original choreography.

Katrina Brown-Aliffi, 6-12

Harlem Prep Middle School, of Democracy Prep Public Schools

Brown-Aliffi has been working with sixth through twelfth graders at Democracy Prep Public Schools since 2017. In that time, her students have put on over ten school-level performances, performed at the network-level multiple times, forged partnerships with local senior centers with whom they participated in an intergenerational learning project with, choreographed and taught the National School Choice Week 2021 dance to advocate for school choice, and took part in Theresa Lavington’s filmed Dance for the Movement performance piece, a peaceful protest through the arts to honor all Black lives lost to racist acts and police brutality.

Kerrianne Cody, Pre-K-5

PS 165 Edith K. Bergtraum School

As a dance educator, Kerrianne believes firmly in the power of movement as a means of expression. She teaches her students that dance is a universal language spoken across seas, in the smallest villages and the biggest cities. That dance unifies, transpires, and surpasses time and place. She believes that through the arts, our students become empowered creative problem solvers, who have the necessary skills in collaboration, communication, empathy, and understanding to pave the way towards a brighter future.

Victoria Dobson, TK-6

Garden Grove Unified School District

Mrs. Dobson serves as a TK-6 dance teacher and curriculum writer for the Garden Grove Unified School District. She teaches students spanning from TK to 6th grade, including a diverse range of learners across twenty-two elementary schools within the district. Mrs. Dobson takes pride in pioneering dance education within the district, as it is the first time being taught at the elementary level.

Mher Kandoyan, Undergraduates

University of Maryland

Specializing in undergraduate education, Mher is dedicated to nurturing the growth of his students into accomplished dancers. He takes pride in his innovative approach to dance education, particularly in his efforts to degender social dances and create inclusive pedagogical methods. Mher's teaching philosophy revolves around fostering a supportive and inclusive environment where every student feels empowered to explore their potential as dancers.

Hetty King, Pre-K-5

PS 145K The Magnet School for Leadership Through Engineering

Since 2000 Hetty has worked as a teaching artist and Dance Educator in public and private schools. As a devoted student of the late somatic movement pioneer Nancy Topf, Hetty nurtured a deep love of the somatic arts as they relate to dance, embodiment, and the education of the whole child.

Ashlie Kirby, K-5

Sacramento Country Day School​

Ashlie currently teaches Music and Movement PK-3rd Grade at Sacramento Country Day School. She loves introducing young children to dance and watching them fall in love! In her classroom children learn that "EveryBODY is a dancer."

Danielle Staropoli, K-8

Bay Ridge Preparatory School

Danielle teaches K-8 dance at Bay Ridge Preparatory School where she founded the school’s dance program in 2017. She is passionate about incorporating children’s books in her lower school classes as a tool to ignite the choreographic process, explore social-emotional learning, and promote inclusivity.

Erin Strong, K-5

The Pingry School

Erin's focus as an educator is rooted in the belief that the arts are a way of knowing, understanding, and communicating about one's world. Erin has developed numerous interdisciplinary, collaborative dance making experiences for more than 20 years to students PK-adult. Erin is currently the Lower School Performing Arts Coordinator at The Pingry School, Short Hills, NJ. Whether she is leading 3rd grade students through their study of Jazz, swaying on the floor with Kindergarteners as they embody a story about mermaids, or teaching a contemporary class to adults of mixed abilities, Erin is devoted to developing dance literacy in a learning environment rooted in empathy and inclusion.

Learn more about how to become acknowledged as a DEL Lab School

Arnhold wants to put a certified dance teacher in every public school, and she emphasizes that dance education must start when children are young in order for it to properly take root. It’s an ambitious goal, to be sure. But for Arnhold, the value is multidimensional—she sees it as fundamental not only to children’s development and learning but to the survival of the dance field as a whole.
Dance Teacher Magazine
May 2010