Dawn Crafton is the Founder/Director of Dawn Crafton Dance Connection (DCDC) in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC where she recently produced and directed her 60th Annual Dance Concert. Growing up among generations of dancers, she began dancing and performing with her mother at an early age. By 15, she was teaching, designing and making costumes, organizing and running shows at her mother’s studio, yet always wanted to learn and do more, which led to attending the first of innumerable conventions over her career.
Several years after Dawn married and started a family, she opened a studio in her home as a way to be there for her own children once they started school. Neighborhood children frequently studied at her studio; 16 of those little girls danced into the Waldorf Astoria, NYC to win the first competition Dawn ever entered, with a precision and production number to Art Stone’s “Amen”, which is still remembered by many who saw it. That DEA Regional led to winning National Finals, followed by more Regional and National winners. Members wanted to learn about this newcomer, her technique and choreography. DEA President, Grace Wakefield, became Dawn’s mentor and asked Dawn to teach a workshop for teachers and their students. Soon Dawn was not only teaching Master Classes for DEA, PDTA and DMA, but also touring with Dance Caravan while teaching all over the United States, Canada and Europe on faculties with many of the greatest teachers in the industry…Joe Tremaine, Gus Giordano, Luigi, Frank Hatchett and many others who influenced the dance world. Dawn directed Albums, CDs, Videos and Instructional Manuals for the producer Danny Hoctor. In all these creations, dance critics note she has “great arrangements, exciting selections, creative choreography and clearly written manuals that make her albums, tapes, videos and books successful best sellers to the trade”.
During those busy years, Dawn raised her three children into young adults as a single Mom and her studio blossomed. Unfortunately, the fairy tale success was marred when her youngest son, Chris, only 21 days from his 21st birthday, was killed in a banner plane accident in Ocean City, MD on her birthday. Dawn channeled her grief into fundraising efforts for Safe Kids, a Trauma Unit in Children’s National Medical Center, a Pediatric Room in Shady Grove Hospital, as well as many other causes. The Montgomery County, Maryland, Community Service Award was presented to Dawn for fund raising activities, “which made a difference to children between sickness and health, between life and death.”
As time progressed, daughter, Kelly, became a professional dancer who worked Broadway, Monte Carlo, Tokyo and all over the world for 15 years, married, moved back to Maryland and became Artistic Director of DCDC’s new professional studios. Dawn’s older son, Casey, became a Pediatric Dentist. In due course, Dawn became Nana to 5 grandchildren and is happiest when her family is together, traveling to explore the world.
As the Director of DCDC, Dawn is an integral part of the studio and its’ management. She continues to produce and direct performances, evaluate and provide input on student progress, mentor and inspire students, communicate with parents and she still loves designing costumes. The studio has expanded to a faculty of twelve and often hosts Master Teachers from all over the country. Dawn credits much of DCDC’s current success to the faculty recruited by her daughter, Kelly Crafton Welch, and the work of Studio Manager, Erin Kelly, who grew up at DCDC and keeps things running smoothly. Thanks to their dedicated staff and a team approach, DCDC continues to produce winners at competitions, Broadway performers, professional dancers and teachers, So You Think You Can Dance finalists, DOTYs and - most importantly - kids armed with life lessons to take along with them no matter where their dreams may lead them.
Dawn is happy to accept the honor of Tremaine’s Teacher of the Year on behalf of all those who pass their knowledge and passion on to the next generation. Without those who showed her the way, she would not be the teacher she is today.