This week I head to Minneapolis with former youth intern Ethan Hazzard-Watkins. Our destination: Tapestry Folkdance Center. Our mission: youth outreach!
Tapestry is a non-profit organization which has been teaching and supporting folk dance and music since 1983. In 1999 the organization purchased a building in South Minneapolis where contra, English country, international folk, Cajun and nordic dances, as well as other folk music events, are regularly hosted. It is rare for such a diverse dance community to have a physical center. I am eager to meet the people who have realized this dream and even more excited to dance with them.
Ethan and I are visiting the Tapestry Folkdance Center as part of their youth outreach campaign — a comprehensive project designed to help preserve and perpetuate folk dance and music in Minnesota by engaging young people in the traditions taught and practiced at Tapestry. A grant has been secured from Minnesota’s Metropolitan Regional Arts Council to support this effort. The folks at Tapestry have crafted an inspiring and deliberate plan to boost youth involvement, which includes:
- creating a local, volunteer task force;
- working with local musicians and teachers to develop young musicians who can play for dances;
- developing new marketing strategies which incorporate social media;
- collaborating with colleges, churches, and home-schooling organizations;
- hosting dances on several local college campuses over the next year.
Tapestry asked Ethan to come visit the Center as a consultant in this project and Ethan in turn asked me, the current Youth Intern, to join him to represent CDSS. So many communities in the CDSS neighborhood are asking the question “How can we involve more young people in our traditions?” I believe Tapestry’s intentional and focused campaign to integrate youth into their constituency will be a valuable case study, both as an example to other communities facing similar questions and also as an opportunity for CDSS to become better acquainted with another vibrant dance community and learn the best ways for us to offer our support.
Watch my Facebook page for live updates from the Midwest this weekend, and read a follow-up report here on the blog following my return!