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 well? 

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 

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 presentation? 

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 characteristics). 

Whatever your dance’s attributes, it’s great to hear of a dance community with 
a thriving youth scene. 



Sent from my iPhone

> On Dec 20, 2017, at 10:51 PM, Peter K Martel via Organizers 
> <> wrote:
> 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 efforts. 
> 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 
>> <> wrote:
>> 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,
>> Mary
>> “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 <> 
>>> wrote:
>>> 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!
>>> Cheers, 
>>> Chrissy
>>> From: Mary Collins <>
>>> Sent: Tuesday, December 19, 2017 4:48 PM
>>> To: Chrissy Fowler
>>> Subject: Re: [Organizers] Lower attendance this year?
>>> Chrissy,
>>> How exactly are you reaching those young people?
>>> Mary -Buffalo NY
>>> On Dec 6, 2016 10:47 AM, "Chrissy Fowler via Organizers" 
>>> <> 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?
>>> Cheers,
>>> Chrissy Fowler
>>> Belfast, ME
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