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Wanna Dance?

Dance has been on my mind a lot lately as important findings about dance seem to pop out of our research efforts on a regular basis. A study of Dallas public school children commissioned by Big Thought found broad interest in many forms of dance among young people. Is dance a way to address parents’ worry about lack of physical activity? Despite what could be called a perfect storm of interest in dance, it is often the last form of arts instruction offered in schools. It is not just kids who want to dance, adults want to dance too. A recent study we conducted for The James Irvine Foundation found that a third of adults in several inland regions of California would like to take dance lessons, and just last month we released a study of Philadelphia adults for the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance which found that the most frequent form of dance participation is ‘watching television programs about dance.’ Like it or not, dance has jumped to the forefront of public consciousness. Will leaders in the cultural sector allow this moment to pass us by, or can we manage a strategic response? How can this energy be harnessed? Last month, Dance/USA, with support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, announced a new grant program to support the development of innovative approaches to Engaging Dance Audiences, which WolfBrown will help to assess. Until we can bridge the gap between personal practice (dancing) and attendance (watching dance), the professional dance field will not benefit from the groundswell of interest in dance, and the public will not benefit from the great artistry of the dance field.

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