Printer Friendly

National Dance Week: the California Bay Area celebrates.

Sarah David, the producer of a company called And Still Dancing, thought she'd be lucky if 10 people turned up for the National Dance Week event she organized last spring. Her group, a showcase for dancers over 40, was new in San Francisco. She hoped casual dance fans would feel comfortable attending her event, a workshop where they would learn the company's signature work and perform it for friends, but knew the idea could be intimidating to non-professionals. She registered with Bay Area National Dance Week, posted fliers at a small theater, and crossed her fingers.

"It turned out we had 50 people," David says, still astonished, nearly a year later. "The response was phenomenal. Our participants were overwhelmed by the power of learning the dance, hugging and crying when we said goodbye."

David's company is far from the only group to draw new comers during Bay Area National Dance Week. Wendy Rein and Ryan T. Smith, directors of the fledgling company RAWdance, registered an event and drew 25 complete strangers, many of whom returned months later for their concert. Rhythm and Motion Dance Center took their "Fusion Rhythms" class to the street with the help of a boom box, making traffic slow down and construction workers gawk. "It was a powerful feeling," says director of programming and general manager Thor Anderson. "I see Bay Area National Dance Week as a communitywide boost."

National Dance Week is celebrated across the country every April, but the Bay Area's locally organized festivities have been especially effective at creating a buzz. More than 100 groups and 2,500 artists take part every year, hosting everything from open rehearsals to mini-dance class samplers. Thousands of audience members come out for these and for cornerstone events like the South Bay's "Dancin' Downtown" and the Bay Area Dance Awards. All this on an organizational budget of less than $75,000 and with a staff of two part-time employees.

The celebration's motto is simple: "All free! All dance! All week!" Any dance group is welcome to register for BANDW, as long as their event is free and open to all. The registration costs range between $45 and $105, depending on the size of the group's annual budget. That registration buys a listing on the BANDW website and another one in an attractive event guide with a circulation of 80,000 (50,000 are inserted into the San Francisco Bay Guardian newspaper). It also buys the right to use the BANDW affiliation and logo when marketing the event. Bay Area National Dance Week hangs red banners in crowded Union Square, and pays a publicist to blanket the town.

The concept is modeled on the visual art world's Open Studios, in which newcomers to art are invited to visit different artists' studios. This approach to NDW showcases the fullness and diversity of the dance scene to a larger public. "One woman told me she found the event guide in the paper and planned to go to one event every day, and I thought 'Gosh, this works,'" says project administrator Mica Miro.

For Bay Area dance studios, the gain in enrollment is modest but meaningful. For companies, the benefits can be lasting: And Still Dancing not only collected glowing survey sheets, but gained three new company members during last year's workshop. David says that success is due to the inclusiveness BANDW organizers foster. "They are open, friendly, and supportive," she says. "They make it seem as though you're doing them a favor. All over the Bay Area, wonderful interesting things are happening and there's no barrier for entry."

Since 1998 when Bay Area National Dance Week began, the organization has faced pressure to produce shows and become more of a service organization, but BANDW has decided to stick with what it does best: promoting the visibility of dance.

The key is finding committed board members as the project calls more for volunteer hours and connections than money. "Any area with an arts scene has people with strong ideas," says Rein, who works as project coordinator for BANDW in addition to directing RAWdance. "When they band together, amazing things can happen."

Rachel Howard writes about dance for the San Francisco Chronicle and is the author of The Lost Night: A Daughter's Search for the Truth of Her Father's Murder (Dutton, 2005).
COPYRIGHT 2006 Dance Magazine, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Howard, Rachel
Publication:Dance Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2006
Words:720
Previous Article:May O'Donnell: Modern Dance Pioneer.
Next Article:Sharing the wealth.
Topics:


Related Articles
SOUTH AFRICAN UPDATE.
BAY AREA EMBRACES NATIONAL DANCE WEEK.
DANCE WEEK DRAWS ATTENTION FROM WHITE HOUSE TO BAY AREA.
DANCE COMPANIES WIRED BY CASH INFUSION.
BELEAGUERED FOLK TROUPE PINS HOPE ON `IMMIGRANTS'.
BALLET, MODERN COMPANIES USHER IN NEW MARIN SERIES.
PEOPLE AND COMPANIES IN THE NEWS.
PEOPLE AND COMPANIES IN THE NEWS.
U.S. PREMIERE FOR `LA GUERRA D'AMORE'.
The Mark Morris Dance Group and the University of California's Cal Performances have announced an expanded Berkeley residency for the Brooklyn-based...

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |