By Emily Yewell Volin.
Connections to movement are so central to the lives and interests of dance professionals that it’s easy for us to forget about the large portions of our population without regular connection to movement and dance. Enter National Dance Week, April 22-May 1 2011, a historically grassroots effort that is currently funded in large part by dues collected by the United Dance Merchants of America, with the mission of ‘Celebrating the benefits and beauty of dance, and its ability to enrich our lives, our bodies, our spirits, and our culture’.
I spoke with Cathy Graziano, Associate Director of National Dance Week, who said she and Interim NDW Executive Director, Diane Despopoulos, want NDW to be a catalyst for creating awareness of and conversation about dance while ‘exposing as many people as possible to the joys of dance’. So, fellow dance professionals, I present this challenge. How can you help fulfill the National Dance mission by organizing and/or participating in at least one dance community or non dance community based NDW event during the week of April 22-May 1?
Perhaps a few suggestions would help. First and most simply, become a Facebook fan of National Dance Week. Next, go to the National Dance Week website: www.nationaldanceweek.org.
The NDW website offers inspiring projects in celebration of National Dance Week. Ideas include poster and literature contests, free community dance classes, dance-a-thons, dance video presentations and free e-cards. The site also includes a Kids’ page with reproducible activities and a link to purchase NDW merchandise including The National Dance Week Cookbook featuring recipes from dance legends & the dance photography of Rose Eichenbaum. Notice there is also a regional listing of NDW delegates and representatives. If you are a collaborative spirit, contact the reps in your area and put together a project in celebration of National Dance Week. Or, for a $25 donation to the NDW cause, become a delegate.
Also on the website is information about the remarkable new National Dance Week school curriculum programs. These free downloadable (pdf) programs align with established curriculum standards and incorporate movement and dance into lesson plans to be taught by academic teachers. These curriculum programs have been developed by Anneliese Burns Wilson of abc for dance (www.abcfordance.com) and are easy to implement. Anneliese has over 30 years of experience in dance with education being the focus of her past 20 years of work in the field. What an exciting development for arts in education! Consider telling your local school about the program and take it a step further by offering to help implement the program during National Dance Week 2011!
Let’s all accept the National Dance Week challenge and commit to doing at least one extra dance related activity, big or small, during National Dance Week, April 22-May 1. We already understand the positive benefits, beauty, and enrichment opportunities inherent in dance – let’s help others discover it, too!