As a leader in the dance community, Curtain Call® is passionate about spreading positivity throughout the dance world! Every year, we celebrate National Dance Week by raising awareness about the benefits of dance and supporting our dance community. This year we spoke with Cathy Graziano, the Executive Director at National Dance Week Foundation, to learn more about their mission and how Curtain Call can help support it. We are excited to share this information with you and celebrate this year’s National Dance Week, February 24 – March 5, 2017. Mark your calendars!
Can you tell us about the mission of the National Dance Week Foundation (NDWF)?
The overall mission of NDWF is to expose and introduce as many people as possible to the enjoyment and benefits of dance through promoting dance in schools, expanding community awareness, and increasing professional development. To ensure this happens, we have created year-round dance activities and initiatives. NDWF encourages dancers and dance organizations to take the lead and use their power of dance to work together towards the greater good.
A call to action has been sounded to first, take the lead in creating more dance opportunities for those with special needs- A Chance to Dance and to second, stand up against bullying – Kick for Kindness initiative. I am very passionate about both of these issues. All NDWF activities, like the Dance Mob, help create awareness about dance, while supporting and raising awareness for these important initiatives. Each year, the last Friday of February we begin our National Dance Week (NDW) celebration for ten days. Each day we promote a different scholarship winner, contest winner, or those who took part in dance activities and performances. It’s like the NDWF Academy Awards!
What about your work inspires you to continue spreading this mission?
What inspires me is the interchange of encouragement that comes from within the dance community. My efforts are continuously inspired by those whose lives are positively influenced by dance. I love hearing their stories!
What can we, as members of the dance industry, do to help spread this message?
The best way to spread this mission, is getting together today, and getting involved. The more we work together, the more effective we can be – I am a big believer in positive synergy. The easiest way to get involved is through our NDWF Ambassador volunteer program. These Ambassadors work throughout the United States to lead their communities toward our goals. Since NDWF is a non-profit, we rely on support and donations from other organizations, like United Dance Merchants of America (UDMA). A large portion of our support and donations come from t-shirt sales. Studios that purchase our t-shirts, directly fund our scholarship and educational programs.
Can you explain the mission of A Chance to Dance?
Realizing that so many children with special needs and learning differences are being excluded from dance class and knowing that most people understand the physical and emotional benefits of dance, really made me question why there aren’t more of these classes readily available.
Since this realization, I have met many wonderful teachers who have been able to create a dance space specifically for this purpose, and many that weren’t exactly sure how to get the ball rolling. As a result, A Chance to Dance was born. Our missions is to first, create awareness and second, provide education through scholarships.
So far, we have gained great awareness with our Mannequin Challenge and Photo Contests. In order to provide education, support, and the tools needed, we have teamed-up with Tricia Gomez's Rhythm Works Integrative Dance and Wingman for Dance. To fund the scholarship, we sell A Chance to Dance t-shirts and NDWF dancewear – the more we sell, the more scholarships we are able to give. In 2016, we were thrilled to award four scholarships.
What do you wish other people knew about those with special needs or learning differences?
I feel the fear of not knowing, or initial discomfort is probably why many have shied away from helping. What many don’t realize, EVERYONE benefits from this mission, not just those with special needs or learning differences. Learning to dance together will benefit all dancers and give everyone memories to cherish for the rest of their lives. Dance is meant for everyone!
Why do you think this mission is so important to share?
It is necessary! Right now, we have only been able to whisper, our goal is to be able roar! That roar can only happen if the A Chance to Dance initiative grows every year – and with your help, NDWF is going to work hard to make that happen!