BWW Interview: Gearing Up for NYC DANCE WEEK 2017 with Tasha Norman
NYC Dance Week is a 10-day festival to promote the joy and diversity of dance in New York City, providing the public access to free and discounted dance and fitness classes at various dance schools and studios across the area. The goal is to engage the community to experience dance in a way that encourages them to live active and healthy lifestyles. Today, nearly 40 studios offering over 100 classes are partnering with the organization to promote and support dance. This year, NYC Dance Week takes place from June 15-June 24, 2017.
I had the lovely opportunity to speak with Tasha Norman, Founder and Director of NYC Dance Week.
Q: Can you describe what NYC Dance Week is?
A: NYC Dance Week is a celebration of dance and fitness. The main component includes 10 days of free and discounted classes across the city. It is a way for us to connection with different studios (large and small) and educate people on the benefits of movement and fitness.
In addition to the classes we have another project called NYC10, which is a performance, a unique dance show that allows 10 emerging dance companies to showcase their work and receive feedback and reviews. It's a platform for dancers and choreographers to present a new dance company for the first time or a new piece.
Another program, which I am very proud of is Dancer for a Day. This is a children's program. It came out of a need I saw for kids to experience dance outside of school or a camp, and give an opportunity to those who may not be able to afford it. Those selected to participate are those who have been told "no". Those who "don't look like a dancer," and have been rejected despite having the drive. We are not going after those we know will make it. I personally was a dancer (ballet), but had the body of a gymnast. I was told no a lot of the time. And this is a way to reach all parts of our community.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for NYC Dance Week?
A: I used to work for a broadcasting company and would often do a lot of travelling. When I would go away, I would always look to take a dance class wherever I was. I wanted to know where I should go for class, which led me to start a newsletter. There, I would share different places you can take a dance class in different cities.
I later organized the Wellness Indulgence event at Union Square Park, and it was so successful that people wanted it to be an annual thing. So we started to partner with National Dance Week, but then broke off in 2010 and started as our own entity.
Q: Why do you feel this festival is needed?
A: Dance is about discovery. It's about exposing people to different types of dance and new things. People want to take class, but they don't know where to go. This is a way to educate people and provide accessibility. And it's a way to support the dance community.
It's also a way for people to gain an understanding of what they are doing. Many folks don't know the benefits of the classes they are taking- how it will improve you and your spirit; how to condition your body. It's about educating people about the mind, body, and spirit.
Q: What do you see as the future of NYC Dance Week?
A: I see it growing! I see opportunities for growth. People are gravitating to us because they believe in our mission and our brand. We are starting to build relationships with those in other cities.
I also want to touch more of the community. I especially, want to empower the youth and those with disabilities, and health and mental challenges. They are all part of the community and I don't want to leave anyone out!
NYC Dance Week is a great way to get involved and support the dance scene here in New York. There are many ways to get involved:
- You can participate in free/discounted dance and fitness classes by registering for a FREE Dance Week Pass- which gives you access to classes at participating studios;
- Donate (any amount, large or small) to support the efforts of this great event, amazing program offerings and their mission for years to come; or
- Attend any other their events such as the NYC Dance Week Kick Off Party on Wednesday, June 14th at Angel of Harlem at 6:00-10:00PM.
For more information about NYC Dance Week, to register, or get more involved, please visit their website at www.nycdanceweek.org.
Photo Credit: AK47 Division