Radical idea - folk dance presence in libraries

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Radical idea - folk dance presence in libraries

Post  Dansingsal on Tue Feb 17, 2009 2:12 pm

Folk Dance Presence in Area Libraries

Spreading the word about folk dancing, and recruiting new dancers, is one of our chief challenges. Most clubs probably have standing announcements in local newspapers, and may have posters out too. For the most part, performances at festivals by local club members probably provide the only exposure to folk dance that most non-dancers get.

I propose to add a standing presence in another venue: local libraries. Libraries are not dead! Not only that, but every town and every school has one. Or more. Libraries are everywhere, silently offering knowledge to all who seek it.

I propose that individual peopleas well as clubs, provide libraries with not only books, but more importantly, DVDs, that the public will find enticing. The most important part of donations to libraries is that they contain a donor plate, so that the library patron knows where to go for more of the same. I would suggest wording like this: "Donated by X-ville International Folk Dancers, www.xifd.org"

People interested in this idea should work up a bibliography of books and DVDs they have found useful or enjoyable, and do online searches for copies of these books. abe.com and bookfinder.com are good places to start, as is the Society of Folk Dance Historians, which frequently offers duplicate books for sale from its archives. Dick Oakes maintains a long bibliography on his website, which is another good place to start. Not all the books are of equal value, which is why they should be carefully selected.

Possibly more important than books would be DVDs. DVDs show it all - the music, the instruments, the costumes, the dances. When touring groups come through town (Tamburitzans, Hungarian National Dance Troupe, Frula, BYU, etc.) clubs in the area should be buying dozens of their DVDs and placing them in libraries - again, with appropriate donor plates. It's possible we could get a bulk price.

Then there are instructional materials that come in sets: book + CD + DVD. Sanna Longden, Phyllis Weikart, and Christy Lane all have such sets available. They are not cheap, and they are not meant for people who are already avid folk dancers. They are meant to teach beginners how to folk dance. But these are the people we need to reach.

Two caveats about donating to libraries (I work in the accessions department of a public library):
1) Be sure the library will in fact add your donation to its collection. Talk to the head of accessions before committing a lot of money to this.
2) Library items must "earn their shelf space." Meaning, they must be checked out with some frequency, or in a couple of years they will be withdrawn and in most cases given to the local Friends of the Library or similar organization for resale very cheaply. So someone from the folk dance community should occasionally check out the very materials they donated, to help keep the circulation numbers up. If the materials disappear from the library shelves they aren't doing the job we want them to do.

Radical librarian/dancer,


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Materials for libraries

Post  denismurf on Wed Feb 18, 2009 7:11 pm

Thanks, Sally, for both the idea and concrete ways of implementing it. And thanks for posting them under Radical Ideas cuz they provide me an opportunity to float one of my own.

Let's assume that most of us want to portray IFD in ways that make it look appealing to the young (whatever we mean by that). Now look at the majority of printed and audiovisual material out there for the public to come across. One of the first things you notice is the prevalence of poor quality black and white photos, even when young people are shown. Next, young people are rarely shown. Even when the photos are high quality color, most of the people shown are at least old enough to be the parents of the group we profess to want to attract.

Look, too, at what is shown in the typical IFD newsletter: lots of obituaries and still photos of what look like square dances taking place in what look like rec rooms of retirement homes.

Finally, the films now available in libraries tend to show either stuff for grade school teachers or elaborate set dances in costume, neither of which would generate the slightest interest in the young adults I know.

It would sure be nice to have lots of films out there portraying young people of today(!) screaming their heads off at the big live music dance festivals and totally engrossed in the weekly classes where they learn and practice dances to updated recordings. There is plenty of good raw material floating around Utube and other websites, but "somebody" needs to edit and professionally produce it before it goes on display to the public. Until then, we should be careful not to float material that might tend to defeat our purpose.

My wife might take on a project like that when time allows. She's gradually mastering Final Cut Express using vacation movies as raw material, but will need something more challenging soon. We've accumulated several hours of scenes from our classes/groups in Seattle and St. Louis, and there is probably a really cool 5-minute film buried in all that footage that would make our brand of dancing look and feel irresistible.

I wonder if anybody is already working on such a project.

Anyway, Sally, thanks for the reminder that libraries can be a great conduit to the nondancing world if handled properly. -- Denis


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Youth Dance Project

Post  tropdeschapeaux on Fri Feb 20, 2009 2:04 pm

I believe that Bruce Mitchell in California is working on a documentary DVD of various younger generation dance groups across the US. I hope to get an update on this at the next National Folk Organization Conference coming up in April. See www.nfo-usa.org.

Here in Massachusetts we've made a concerted effort to get dance videos up on our website and our Facebook page featuring younger bodies and faces. I think it's working. BTW we seem to care more about video quality than the younger generation does. They are used to some pretty awful cell-phone-quality stuff. Anyway, browse our site and check out our Facebook page if you are registered with them. www.facone.org

I always post fliers about dancing in the local libraries - it's great exposure.

More about me when I'm not running off to dancing.....


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Youth dance dvds

Post  Dansingsal on Thu Mar 05, 2009 2:08 pm

I think that the NFO (National Folk Organization) is also working on a DVD portraying young people dancing.

So here's a radical idea. I'm not the one to implement it, but here's the idea. At some of the big camps (the only one I'm familiar with is Texas Camp, every November) the younger people get together at a session called "Not Your Parents' Dance Party" and they do the dances THEY like - fast, aerobic, or to more rock-sounding music than most of us (I'm 55). If different people could videotape these sessions from different camps, and send them to a central videographer for making into a good-quality DVD, would that help? Then you have to market it, or put it online or something. Well, I don't have the details. There ARE young people dancing, we just need a way to highlight them.

And speaking of Youtube (and clubs that post videos of their dances), it is really annoying to me to see dances that are not well done, posted. The quality of the filming is less important to me than the quality of the dancing. I'm no purist by any means, but if you can't start the dance at the right place in the music, don't post it online; do it again with the start in the right place, and then post the good one. Or whatever the case may be. If the visitors and beginners get in front of the camera, don't post that one. If there's a column or pole in the middle of the room, don't aim at it and then post the video! I have learned a fair number of dances from online videos and really value them, but it's a bear when I learn one and then find out they did it wrong!

Not a purist but appreciative of good dance videos,


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