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K-State Today

December 9, 2013



Donnelly presents at mentoring conference

By Laura Donnelly

Laura Donnelly, assistant professor of dance in the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, presented "Generations — The Changing Dynamics of Mentoring through Four Decades of Experience” and “The Svengali Trap — Navigating the Rapids in Mentoring Relationships” at the University of New Mexico Mentoring Conference in October. The conference focus was on the impact and effectiveness of developmental relationships.

Donnelly co-authored both articles with her mentor, Roni Mahler, founder of the K-State dance program. The evolving teaching-learning relationship began when Donnelly was Mahler's student at K-State in 1976. While their discipline is ballet, the developmental phases they have experienced over the past 37 years are universal to mentoring in all fields. Using personal experiences in the field of ballet as a starting point the paper extrapolates universal constants that can be applied to mentoring across disciplines and over time.

Their second paper addresses issues that can turn a positive mentoring relationship into a negative one. Naming the difficult places in the mentoring relationship “The Svengali Trap” offers a literary and metaphorical framework that can provide the emotional distance necessary for navigating these hot spots skillfully.

The four-day conference was attended by more than 800 people from both the public and private sectors as well as academia. Presenters from China, Australia and Europe brought perspectives from other countries. Donnelly also served as a peer reviewer for conference submissions.