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Formato to be honored with top award from Dance Masters of America

An associate professor of dance at Elon, Lynne Formato will receive the President’s Award at the DMA’s annual conference this summer. 

Lynne Formato, an associate professor of dance, director, choreographer and studio instructor, has been selected to receive one of the highest honors from Dance Masters of America for her work to educate those who in turn teach new generations of students how to dance. 

Lynne Formato, associate professor of dance

Formato will receive the President’s Award from DMA President Laura Work at the organization’s national convention to be held this July in New Orleans. The award is presented each year to a dance educator “who exemplifies the character, personality, dedication, knowledge and is highely respected in the dance teaching community,” said Robert Mann, who started the award in 1994 when he led the 133-year-old professional organization for dance instructors. 

Formato specializes in musical theater, and through DMA has been heavily involved in helping teach dance educators the form during the organization’s national teachers training school. News that she would be honored by the organization, whose membership is predominantly those who teach in private studios, was a surprise, she said. 

“I was very shocked, to be perfectly honest,” Formato said. “One of the things I hope I do well, that I try to do well, is to make people believe in themselves to allow them to find the gifts that they have. I want to help them understand that there are so many different ways to be an artist in the world, that we all have a place.”

Formato first became involved with Dance Masters of America about 20 years ago through its Teacher’s Training School. She helped develop “intensive” sessions that focus on specific techniques, including one in her area of specialization, musical theater. Teacher’s Training School offers teachers the ability to secure certification as educators and broaden their teaching capabilities. 

“It’s a codified, progressive program for teaching teachers how to present concepts and material to their students,” Formato said of the Teacher’s Training School. “It helps provide those teachers with the historical background of the idioms they are working in, and offers ideas of how to mesh that all together for your students in the studio.”

A scene from a production in Denmark of "Young Frankenstein" in which Lynne Formato served as director and choreographer. 

​Laura Work, national president of Dance Masters of America, selected Formato for the award, and calls her not just a friend, but also a teacher, having studied under her in the past. 

​“She is a much sought after national and international director, choreographer, and educator,” Work said of Formato. “Not only is she a phenomenal teacher, she is part of an elite group that is called a Master Teacher or ‘Teacher of Teachers.’ Colleagues come from all over the United States to take class and learn from the best of the best.”

Work describes Formato as “a living art that is constantly evolving,” and said Formato brings that understanding to her classes and students. “It does not matter if you only took one or 100 of her classes — what you take from that experience is a cherished imprint on your life. She instills a spirit of movement through music and emotion and freely shares her inner soul in her teachings.”

Formato said that music theater is still a relatively new dance form as far as its development and dissemination. She’s one of the few who specializes in a codified approach to instruction, she said. “There are so many things that are meshed together in theater dance that it is considered an amalgamated dance form as opposed to a pure dance form,” Formato said. “Theater dance can involve anything from tap to the Charleston to jazz to modern to hip hop. It depends on the show and the character and the story that is being told.”

Formato, center in pink hat and boots, surrounded by Elon students. 

​Formato will receive her award during the convention that runs from July 9 through 15 and features national competitions within multiple forms and age groups. Beyond teaching at Elon, Formato has also been directing and choreographing musical theater productions in Denmark for the past several years, including productions schedule for this summer. 

Additionally, Formato will be directing and choreographing a production of “The Little Mermaid” in Brazil in January, which will be a first foray into working in South America for her. 


Owen Covington,
4/24/2017 3:20 PM