Retired Associate Professor of Dance Karen Hubbard received a Lifetime Achievement Award from North Carolina Dance Education Organization (NCDEO) at the 2023 conference held at UNC Charlotte on February 18. The North Carolina Dance Education Organization is the state affiliate of the National Dance Education Organization. The NCDEO Lifetime Achievement Award honors dance educators in North Carolina who have made significant and lasting contributions to dance education in the state throughout their careers.
Hubbard, who has danced on Broadway, television, and film, retired in 2022 after teaching in the Department of Dance for 36 years. While at UNC Charlotte she evolved an innovative approach to teaching Vintage Jazz Dance; the students in her class learned jazz movement from the first half of the 20th century as well as cultural, historical/aesthetic aspects of the form.
“Karen has been involved with our national organization, NDEO, through many conferences and has contributed to the ongoing efforts to ensure that jazz dance is included in dance curricula through historically-rooted practices that give credit to the African-American founders of the art form and build upon jazz roots as a vernacular form of expression and community.” said Assistant Professor of Dance Education Marissa Nesbit, a founding board member of NCDEO.
Hubbard is a noted jazz dance scholar. In 2014, her article, “The Authentic Jazz Dance Legacy of Pepsi Bethel,” appeared in the book Jazz Dance: The History of its Roots and Branches and in 2020 she was featured in a documentary about the history of jazz dance, Uprooted: The Journey of Jazz Dance. Her article, “Valuing Cultural Context and Style: Strategies for Teaching Traditional Jazz Dance from the Inside Out" appears as Chapter 15 in Rooted Jazz Dance: Africanist Aesthetics and Equity in the Twenty-First Century (2022).
“Karen Hubbard's contributions to dance artists' and educators' understandings of jazz dance are so significant,” said Dance Department Chair Gretchen Alterowitz. “Her work has placed jazz dance in its proper cultural contexts and shown educators how to pass this knowledge along to students. I'm thrilled she has been recognized with this well-deserved NCDEO Lifetime Achievement Award.”