Support and promote the arts by getting involved with a local dance organization.
By Laura Di Orio
Being a member of the dance community – be it as a student, professional dancer, teacher or choreographer – is an important role. There is the potential to inspire, challenge and educate other dancers and, on a grander scale, the world beyond the dance industry. Dance councils and organizations exist as a means to increase dance awareness and opportunities, and they allow anyone to take part in their mission. Here, Dance Informa gets the scoop on some regional and national organizations and how dancers can get involved.
Dance organizations seek to support and promote the dance arts and to increase dance exposure on a local, regional, national or even international level. While most organizations have this similar mission, each has its own set of programs for reaching this goal. Some of these programs may include:
- Scholarships: Organizations like Dance Council of North Texas (DCNT) offer scholarships to talented young dancers to attend prestigious summer programs and workshops. Last year alone, DCNT awarded $26,000 in such scholarships.
- Professional Development: Dance/USA is one organization that focuses heavily on the professional development of both the artistic and administrative sides of the dance world. Members of Dance/USA have access to conferences, newsletters and networking opportunities. Membership to some organizations is free or to others can be as little as $30/year for students.
- Dance Listings: DanceATL and other organizations provide listings of auditions, classes for students and professionals, and community performances.
- Advocacy and Research: Dance/NYC, among other organizations, serves as a spokesperson for the dance field to the media and local or state governments. It also conducts research on the field’s contributions and needs.
Dancers not only can benefit directly from these organizations’ services, but they can also be a part of the dance discussion and learn to take leadership roles in the field they love by volunteering their time.
“Dancers should be involved in their local organizations because dance is one of the most overlooked art forms, and dance service organizations are there to be a useful tool for overcoming isolation as individual artists, to gain traction and facilitate awareness of dance in a larger way than one artist or company can do alone,” says Claire Horn, co-founder of DanceATL, an organization servicing the Atlanta dance community.
“Supporting dance in all its forms can only serve to strengthen the entire dance community,” says Athena Baschal, president of Colorado Dance Alliance (CDA), the statewide organization with the motto “Your Home for Dance in Colorado”.
CDA welcomes involvement from everyone. “There are many volunteer opportunities such as serving on the board, chairing a committee, hosting an open stages event, coordinating and publicizing special events, writing and/or editing articles, writing grants, maintaining our databases, graphic design and production of marketing materials, website administration or being our Facebook and Twitter guru,” Baschal says. “The list is endless!”
Likewise, DanceATL accepts support from dancers on a variety of levels. “A dancer can become involved on a superficial level, by browsing our website or blog, and by joining our enews list,” Horn says. “The next step in involving themselves would be to attend the bimonthly meetings we hold. They could also become more deeply involved by volunteering as dance table staff. This role involves informing audiences at events about upcoming dance events across the metro region.”
Participation in a dance organization can keep you well-informed of the goings-on in the dance world. “The more knowledge you have, the better,” says Baschal. “Being an active member of a dance organization gives you many resources to call upon during your journey as a dancer, teacher, choreographer and so forth. It also lets parents, students, studio owners, administrators and others know you are serious about your dance career.”
Bascal recommends browsing online for a local dance organization and contacting them via email or phone to find out what volunteer opportunities are available.
Here are just some of the many dance organizations across America:
Dance/USA, the national service organization for the professional dance field, provides dance-related research and information, professional development and advocacy to its members.
For more: www.danceusa.org
Dance/NYC, the New York branch office of Dance/USA, services the NY dance community by promoting tourism and education, conducting research in the field’s changing needs and offering consulting services for dance managers. Dance/NYC also honors independent performance artists through the Bessie Awards.
For more: www.dancenyc.org
DanceATL focuses on Atlanta’s dance community by providing a dance calendar of performances, classes and workshops in the area, bi-monthly meetings to discuss ways to increase dance awareness, and opportunities for professional development.
For more: www.danceatl.org
Colorado Dance Alliance (CDA) aims to enrich the lives of the people of Colorado by supporting and promoting the dance arts. CDA offers professional development workshops for teachers, networking events, open stages for choreographers and scholarship programs for young dancers.
For more: www.codance.org
Dance Council of North Texas (DCNT) hopes to increase exposure and accessibility to dance within the community. DCNT’s programs range from scholarships to dance classes for children with disabilities to free public dance showcases.
For more: www.thedancecouncil.org
Top photo: Participants in Colorado Dance Alliance’s Dance Education Workshop during a Creative Movement class. Photo by Athena Baschal