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.
“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...@hotmail.com>
> Hi Mary,
> 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 <native...@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" <
> email@example.com> 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?
> Chrissy Fowler
> Belfast, ME
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