Del Kieffner Award

We all have a mentor we look back on fondly who helped frame our world for the better, a support in good times and bad: the teacher in the darkened wings as you first stepped onto the bare stage, the director who remained when the judges choose another, the one who earned the right to correct and encourage you and whom you carry in your heart through life.


In honor of Del Kieffner, we name a recipient each year for the Del Kieffner Award ~ someone who stands as a mentor and example for his or her young students and whose impact is only revealed by the passing years. With great sorrow, we must announce the recent death of Mr. Kieffner. He was truly a legend across the musical community.

13342879_1207424432610731_3179743420805184058_nAs an Indiana boy from Valparaiso, IN, Del Kieffner was always involved in the active marching band culture of the American Midwest. He logically followed this love and to become a music teacher. For 16 years, with Del as the band director, Edgewater’s band held a record of earning Superior ratings from the Florida Bandmasters Association.

Del was an active instrumentalist his whole life. Del played trumpet with the Florida Symphony Orchestra, as well as in the Vaughn Monroe “big band,” in Miss Florida pageants, and at Rollins College stage shows.


(Young Del circa 1940s)

In 1971, Del organized and planned Walt Disney World’s opening day parade of 1,075 high school musicians. From that day forward, he was involved in selecting performing groups to play at Walt Disney World, half time shows at the Citrus Bowl, and the 1971 Super Bowl. Furthermore, in 1973, Del became Instrumental Teacher Supervisor of Orange County Public Schools, and he was inducted into the Edgewater High School Hall of Fame.

In 2007, Performing Arts Educators established the “Del Kieffner Award,” an award of national recognition to be given annually to a deserving instrumental, choral or dance director as a representative of all directors who go above and beyond in their mentoring of young students in the performing arts. His outstanding commitment and contributions to the Arts at Edgewater High School and in the Orlando, Florida community was endless.                                                                                                                                                              

You will be missed!

The 11th Annual Del Kieffner Award

Recipient, Kathy Costa, DanceWorks StudioDSC_0498

Kathy Costa, artistic director, teacher, choreographer and performer, holds a BFA in Dance from Montclair State University. Ms. Costa has been teaching and choreographing for 25 years. She is also an early childhood specialist, which has given her the opportunity to work successfully with the very young. Kathy continues her dance studies in New York City to continually provide her students with top quality, cutting-edge material. Her eclectic background includes serious dance training in Ballet, Modern, Jazz, Tap and Choreography which provides her students the opportunity to be versatile dancers. Kathy was the director of the Dance Program at the Montclair Cooperative School for 6 years where she taught preK-6th grade and choreographed for school productions. Ms. Costa then went on to join the faculty of Montclair Kimberley Academy Upper School for 3 years where she taught dance and choreographed for school dance concerts. Her performing experience includes, The Other Dance Company, DownTown Dance Co., PM Dance & Video Works, Montclair State University Dance Co., and performances at Colorado College under the direction of Bill Evans & Co. Kathy has also performed independently in various New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey choreographer’s showcases. Kathy’s training, energy, knowledge, enthusiasm, passion and love of teaching is evident in each and every student she comes into contact with.

Kathy has been Artistic Director of DanceWorks & Company, a teen touring company for 21 years. Under her artistic direction, the company has performed throughout the world, from New York City to London, and has been recognized as an outstanding dance company. Kathy was thrilled to share her teaching expertise with 2 dance studios in Cape Town, South Africa in the Summer of 2014. Ms. Costa, along with her son Michael Clarke, will be joining forces in 2016 to form Global Dance Exchange. Through this organization Kathy will continue to unite dancers globally for ALL to experience the joy and art of dance, and sharing the best of Dance in NJ with all of our students & families. Kathy also has 5 years of study in Anusara Yoga (providing an additional approach to body awareness and alignment, is certified in Life Coaching from The Life Coach Institute of Orange County with an area of expertise in working with adolescents thru young adults, serves on the Board of Trustees for Dance New Jersey, is on the Advisory Council for Dance at NJPAC- New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ and Appointed Ambassador for B.I.G. (Believe. Inspire. Grow), a women’s organization that provides professional training, inspirational speakers and an opportunity for women to excel in all areas of growth and development professionally and personally.

Officials of the Performing Arts Educators presented the award to Mrs. Kathy Costa at Performing Arts Educators’ Barcelona Summer Stage 2016 at Poble Espanyol in Barcelona, Spain on July 31, 2016. As a recipient of the Del Kieffner Award, Kathy Costa joins a select ensemble of people who have positively shaped and influenced the lives of the students they’ve taught.


2017 11th annual – Kathy Costa, DanceWorks, Barcelona, Spain, Poble Espanyol

2016 10th annual- Kathie Kececi In Motion Dance, Carnegie Hall, Isaac Stern Auditorium

2015 9th annual – Ronda Barber, Step By Step, Carnegie Hall, Isaac Stern Auditorium

2014 8th annual – Renee Sussman, St. John the Baptist, Carnegie Hall, Isaac Stern Auditorium

2013 – None Awarded

2012 6th annual – Linda Rees, Dance Magic Performing Arts Center, 2012 London Olympics, Island Gardens 

2011 5th annual – Doreen Cran, A Dance Class, Carnegie Hall, Isaac Stern Auditorium

2110 4th annual – Lynnell Ediger-Kirdzala, American Youth Harp Ensemble, Kennedy Center, Concert Hall

2009 3rd annual – Teresa Andris, Bowman Studios, Carnegie Hall, Isaac Stern Auditorium

2008 2nd annual – Bridget Archer, Bridget Archer Dancers, Lincoln Center, Avery Fisher Hall

2007 1st  annual – Stan Brown, The Pepper Steppers, Lincoln Center, Avery Fisher Hall