3 WAYS TO SPARK GROWTH IN A SMALL DANCE COMMUNITY
To HELP A COMMUNITY GROW is to INSPIRE GROWTH WITHIN OURSELVES. As I am sure many dancers know, our community plays a massive role in our art’s development. If you are lucky enough to grow up in New York, LA, San Francisco, etc., you are probably around large communities with local practice spots, consistent jams, and a lot of support. For those who come from a smaller dance scene, those things don’t come often, however, by putting in some extra effort you can SPARK the BIRTH of a brand new DANCE COMMUNITY.
3 THINGS WE CAN ALL DO
There are many things you can do to foster a great dance community and scene, and we are going to cover three of them. First, one of the most important things is the place where you will spend the most time together as dancers, the practice spot (or session spot). Second, while the session spot is essential, what is equally important is to spend time and bond outside of session as well. Third, if you want to help a dance community grow you have to focus on the growth of new dancers. Dance may be scary and hard for many people who are trying it for the first time, so if they are not getting help or acknowledgment of their progress, it is likely that they may not stick with it for very long. These three things will provide the foundation for a dance community to grow and for each dancer to grow alongside it.
1) THE PRACTICE SPACE
The local practice space is essential to a strong dance community! This is more than a place to practice, this will be your home away from home. You and your community will bond, practice, and build memories here more than anywhere else. While the setting of the practice spot helps, what is MOST important is the culture you build with this space. The best example for me is the KLR practice spot in San Jose, California. KLR, also known as “KING LIBRARY ROCKERS” is a community formed in San Jose that is closely related to SJSU (San Jose State University). What started as a practice space outside the doors of Martin Luther King Library grew into a piece of San Jose breakdance culture. Everyone in the Bay knows about the sessions outside of the MLK Library and most of us have been a part of it. As shown, your session spot can be a dance studio, a park, or your friends’ garage, as long as it’s accessible, comfortable, and everyone enjoys it, it will be your second home.
2) BOND OUTSIDE OF SESSION
One thing that can really hold a dance community back, is making practice the only time the squad spends together. For communities to form, those people you meet at session must be more than just "The person I practice with". A great way to build togetherness with those at session is to bond outside of practice! This can be dance focused or it can be just a hangout. A great way to bond is to have viewing parties for jams with live streams! Red Bull BC One, Taipei Bboy City, Freestyle Session, and Undisputed, All of these jams and more have live streams so let’s treat it like the Super Bowl! Invite all your friends, get snacks, drinks, and place some light bets! Another idea is traveling, get together and take a trip to a jam in another city! This is a great option because you will not only grow your bonds but you will also expose yourself to a whole set of new dancers and culture. Overall, People want a sense of togetherness and comfort, so as good as it is to practice together, it is better to be part of something bigger.
3) HELP THE NEW DANCERS
In order for a dance community to grow, the scene must have new dancers! Especially in areas without many dancers, the veterans of the area should spend some time to guide the newer dancers, and introduce them to the culture. There are two things to focus on when helping your new dancers grow, teaching and bonding.
First, teaching is vital. Lack of guidance and acknowledgment of their growth is a large reason why some dancers quit early. This does not mean you have to focus 100% on the new dancer’s growth, but give them advice, teach them about the culture, and let them know when they are improving. If these dancers feel welcomed and supported, then they are more likely to stick to it and will improve much faster.
Second, the newer dancers must feel connected to the veterans, so you should all hang out and bond. Invite them to watch a jam live stream, go to a workshop together, or travel to a jam. All of these are great because not only will you be spending time with them but they will also learn about the culture and gain a sense of what it is like to be a part of a larger dance community. New dancers are essential to the growth of a dance scene, so guide them in their dance, guide them through the culture, make them feel welcomed, and the scene will grow.
In the end, to grow a small dance community you must find your practice space, spend time together, guide new dancers, and witness the DANCE COMMUNITY GROW. As your home for dance and memories, the practice space must be something comfortable and accessible for all. Bonding and spending time together will strengthen the relationships within and the commitment to your dance community. Lastly, aiding new dancers will fortify the future of your dance community and ensure its growth. With all of these efforts combined, you will begin the expansion of your incredible dance community.