A few thoughts about ways we seek to engage young people in trad participatory social dance:
- Belfast Flying Shoes--our local dance organization, and a 501(c)(3) through affiliation with CDSS--helps fund contra dance residencies in schools. In recent years, that's really expanded via generous foundation grants. Since our dance series inception (2005), we've been part of residencies in over 20 K-5 or K-8 schools, 3-5 Middle or High schools, and a few small K-12 schools. Most residencies are multiple visits, with a culminating school/family dance. We give out passes to our local dance via those residencies. And lately we've also been distributing teaching resources for interested educators who might want to continue dancing w the students after the musicians and I are gone.
- We had two teens on our board for 2-3 years (there were pros and cons, but it was a good step to take, and overall a big plus.)
- This past fall, by request, we sponsored a weekly 'contra class' for teens. Small numbers but high level of engagement.
And we just have a lot of young people at our dances. Our 12-21yo cohort is huge. But that's all word of mouth. Locally there is a sizeable 'alt schooling' population (Waldorf, Montessori, homeschool, other) and that may be part of it, although there are teens from the local public schools too.
- The last four years, we also have collaborated with a local youth organization (non-electronic games, such as role-playing), adding a contra dancing component to their role-playing history programs.
But... Who knows why young people attend our dances in such numbers. Clearly they're having fun. Beyond that, hard to tell.
We're building on this though, and have three new outreach programs for 2018, all incorporating young people to some degree. The one I'm most excited about is a panel discussion, which we'll record for posterity, of young people in their teens and 20s explaining more about why they choose to make contra dancing part of their social lives. I'm super-curious to hear what they have to say!
From: Mary Collins <nativedae(a)gmail.com>
Sent: Tuesday, December 19, 2017 4:48 PM
To: Chrissy Fowler
Subject: Re: [Organizers] Lower attendance this year?
How exactly are you reaching those young people?
Mary -Buffalo NY
On Dec 6, 2016 10:47 AM, "Chrissy Fowler via Organizers" <organizers(a)lists.sharedweight.net<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>> wrote:
Interesting data so far! Are there dances out there that have seen an INCREASE in average attendance in the last year?
Besides asking for help from the "converted", perhaps we need to increase our reach to the non-dancer community to boost the pool of potential attendees for a given dance. (Meaning, somehow become more visible to the majority of people in our geographic area - the non-dancers - so that we get our message out to those non-dancers who would want to come to our dance if they only knew about it.)
In Belfast, we've got a major component for outreach to youth (schools, youth programming) but we could do more to raise the visibility of both our series and our organization.
Any brainstorms for potential efforts to support sustainability?
Organizers mailing list
Dear dance organizer friends,
We're thrilled to announce that the Puttin' On the Dance (POTD)
<http://www.puttinonthedance.org>conference returns this year.
*Save the Dates for POTD3!*
*November 30 – December 2, 2018*
*Puttin’ On the Dance 3 : A Conference for Northeast Dance Organizers*
Join us for POTD3 in Portland, Maine.
Learn, connect, dance, and more!
POTD is especially for organizers in Eastern Canada and the Northeastern
United States who produce dance events in the North American and English
social dance traditions (e.g., Cape Breton, community, contra, English
country, family, gender free, Quebecois, and square). Space permitting,
others interested in dance organizing, whether from other regions or those
not currently organizing dances, are also welcome to attend.
POTD is all about:
- Providing resources and opportunities for learning, sharing, renewal
- Strengthening our network of dance organizers
- Practicing traditions together
- Did we mention having fun?
Lead sponsors include DownEast Friends of the Folk Arts (DEFFA
<http://www.deffa.org>) and Portland Intown Contra Dance (PICD
*Be in touch!*
Let us know you’re excited, want to help make it happen, and/or anything
Email puttinonthedance(a)gmail.com or connect with us on Facebook at
With excitement and anticipation,
POTD 3 Core Organizers
*P.S. The Back Story:*
In November 2011, Puttin' On the Dance convened nearly 80 dance organizers
in White River Junction, VT. In March 2015, Puttin' On the Dance 2
convened over 80 dance organizers in Ottawa, ON.
Both POTD1 and POTD2 were packed with workshops, discussions, dancing and
more. Dance communities throughout the region benefited from the weekend
conference in significant ways, and Conference Archives from POTD1
<http://www.puttinonthedance.org/potd1archive/> and POTD2
<http://www.puttinonthedance.org/potd2-conference-notes/> continue to
support dance organizers. Participants made it clear an event like this
should happen every few years. (See testimonials
<http://www.puttinonthedance.org/testimonials/>.) It’s time for POTD3!
*You're on the POTD email list because we think you're interested in
conferences for dance organizers. Do let us know if you want your address
removed,.and feel free to forward our news to others. Thanks!*
Hi Chrissy and others.
Happy New Year :)
Catching up after holidays family insanity..... In Ottawa...
Two volunteers always. Don't have to be committee members or anything.
Starts 1hr prior to the dance starting and goes until the break. (Then
'half price box goes out).
2 volunteers for each of 7-8pm, dances 1-2, dances 3-4, dances 5-6.
We book these ahead so folks know and make sure one experienced person in
-Scheduling done via email 1 week ahead. Call put out to volunteer email
-Not much vetting. Make sure one person with experience who knows how
things work. Never been an issue other than would like to have some people
be a bit more outgoing/warm to new people.
-No compensation. And no difficulty getting slots filled. (Sometimes have
to make a second ask but filling other volunteer positions at same time.)
- We do have some 'instructions' written down on the role.
-They are greeting the beginners too, giving out second dance free cards,
-We carefully track who is coming in (in terms of numbers in different
categories, not names) so we can reconcile the finances but more
importantly track data on type of people (e.g. members, new people, non
members, students etc)... two people is good for that.
:) Emily - Ottawa Contra
At the Rochester NY monthly Contra Planning meeting, I took the action item to post here the following requests:
1) Please make sure to include the TOWN where your event is happening, prominently listed on any flyers
2) Our flyer table is getting very, very busy...can people consider 1/2 page flyers?
We purge flyers weekly (I use the scrap, if I can, otherwise recycle it.)
How do others manage the growing tide of paper?