Chrissy- can you tell us more about the norms of the Belfast dance?
Do the youth dancers dance both roles and with everyone? Do the non-youth dancers do so as
Thinking about ages and genders, who asks whom to dance?
Are there flourishes?
Are the young dancers playful in role swapping or in other ways? Is that mirrored among
the older dancers or vice versa?
Do the young ppl have ample opportunity to dance with and socialize with their peers?
Is there a strong overall culture of consent?
Is the default: “dance with who’s coming at you”?
Do people ask what dance role preference their partners have regardless of gender
Other notable aspects of your dance community?
(These are all things that I value as a dancer and many if not most of my avid-dancer
peers value them as well. I am 27, though I anticipate looking for these same things in a
dance experience as I age, and I know many older dancers who also enjoy those
Whatever your dance’s attributes, it’s great to hear of a dance community with a thriving
Sent from my iPhone
On Dec 20, 2017, at 10:51 PM, Peter K Martel via Organizers
CDSS should maybe take on a coordinating effort to be a resource and clearing house for
ideas to engage others, older and especially young, even proactively promote these
Related I wonder if there are any efforts to actively engage college students. I am
considering approaching our local college to see if we can’t increase participation.
Related, at least for summers, we have a couple of summer camps that bring kids to our
weekly dance, dramatically increasing our numbers to the point that some regulars stay
away for the summer.
Sent from miHand,
Peter K Martel
> On Dec 20, 2017, at 8:57 PM, Mary Collins via Organizers
> thanks Chrissy,
> There are several things here to pursue, thanks. We have struggled for years on how
to tap into our younger set. We will be looking into some of these ideas and how we can
implement them in our own dance. I too am looking forward to hearing/reading the outcome
of your panel.
> Cute story: Since we've been struggling with this for YEARS...this happened in
the 90's in Ithaca.It was more than likely a Geo. Marshall dance and there were many
young people in attendance. So, I suggested to the 4 or 5 people who had travelled from
our home dance for this event, that when we could engage any of the young people in
conversation, we should ask them how they came to contra and why they continued to come.
we would report back and have a conversation amongst ourselves about it. As luck would
have it, Aaron Marcus and I were paired to dance. Being the instigator of this exercise
and taking it seriously, I introduced myself to Aaron and asked him "How long have
you been dancing and what brought you to it?" After a brief eye contact
exchange...Aaron promptly put feet to use in a lovely clogging riff, when finished stated
"I grew up in it." with his very lovely smile. Hahaha, leave it to me to find
the one kid there that GREW up Contra dancing. Geeze. Still love seeing Aaron on the
floor and twirling with him when I can.
> Thanks again,
> “Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass ... it's about learning to
dance in the rain!” ~ Unknown
>> On Wed, Dec 20, 2017 at 10:44 AM, Chrissy Fowler <ktaadn_me(a)hotmail.com>
>> Hi Mary,
>> A few thoughts about ways we seek to engage young people in trad participatory
>> - 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"
>> 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
>> Any brainstorms for potential efforts to support sustainability?
>> Chrissy Fowler
>> Belfast, ME
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