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Lessons learned from collegiate dancing

October 4, 2009

Like many in the ballroom world, I discovered the joy of being an active part of the collegiate dance scene.  Although now out of college, last night I attended in the “Intro Night” dance for the college I used to be active with.  Surrounded by fresh faces in dancing, it was wonderful to be intermingled with the energy of young people enjoying dancing – competitive and social dancers, ballroom, west coast swing, tango and ceroc dancers – all brought together under one roof.   Two magical elements that often seem missing at dance events are frequently found hidden away at local universities and colleges.

So how does the dance community at large capture these elements and expand them beyond just the collegiate scene?  First, a look at younger dancers.  Attending a collegiate dance, you will immediately notice that most of the music is popular music one might hear on the radio.   Although perhaps not always as “true” to the dances as some of the more traditional music, you will rarely hear a dull song.  In place of mixers are games.  Games still allow people to interact with one another and meet new people, but in a way that takes the pressure of dancing and is focused on fun.  Plus a little friendly competition  with the crowds cheering competitors through elimination rounds is a great way to get everyone involved, even those who choose not to participate.

Bringing together dancers of many different styles is more difficult to attain.  Often time ballroom and other social styles of dancers have their own separate venues specializing in a particular genre of dance.  For a studio, likely the best way is to make sure classes on both ballroom and social styles are offered, so that the dancer community coming to that location is diverse.   For stand-alone dances, make sure to emphasize the large range of dances played so a particular group won’t feel neglected.  Colleges often give classes in a larger range of styles than studios, thus building a community that is exposed to more styles and wanting to dance them all at a single event.

Finally, how does the dance community engage collegiate dancers directly?  Give incentives for students and younger populations to come out.  Students are often on tight budgets and with college dances at low or no cost, be sure to offer discounts to make classes and dances affordable.  Sponsor a college night dance which caters to that crowd.  Consider offering classes aimed at teenagers and college students.  Make your space available for local competitive teams to practice at once a week. Offer to teach classes or workshops if they use outside instructors. By actively engaging the existing collegiate communities, they can be encouraged to join and interact with the larger dance community.  It is a win-win, because students get opportunities outside of their immediate college setting and the community at large gets an infusion of younger blood and energy.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 17, 2009 1:58 am

    Awesome blog!

    I thought about starting my own blog too but I’m just too lazy so, I guess Ill just have to keep checking yours out.

  2. Vanessa Adelmann permalink*
    October 19, 2009 12:53 pm

    Thanks Savannah! Glad you enjoy it. ~Vanessa

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