Reflections on 2016 and plans for 2017

This past year our focus at Boulder Swing was on community. At the start of the year a number of dear friends moved away, but over the last twelve months we have gained a whole new cohort of enthusiastic and awesome dancers. We really wanted to create a warm, welcoming, and friendly environment at Boulder Swing. This involved restructuring our curriculum as well as adding in more ways for people to connect in non-dance settings such as our monthly socials. We love our community, and in 2017 we hope to make things even stronger! We also owe a huge debt of gratitude to our BSD staff (Heather, Auliya, Shelly, Lisa, Catherine, Gretchen, Sarah, Anthony, Freeman, Lexi, Skye, and Brandon) who worked their butts off this past year to make things happen.

It has been a privilege watching so many new dancers grow this year. Our classes are full, and we now have over 40 people that have made it through all levels of our curriculum–many more than once. That is why we want to make 2017 the year of the intermediate. In swing there is often an awkward gap in people's development. Once they get the basics, can social dance, and move with rhythm in their bodies it can be hard to get to the next level. Local classes are usually not structured or aimed at these students. The truth is that at this point different people want different things. Some people want to learn to perform and compete, while others wish to improve their technique to become better social dancers. That is why this year we are offering several different ways for people to improve their dancing and reach their dance goals. These include:

1) We are bringing level 2.5 back. This level is being restructured to better meet the needs of our students who have completed level 2, but want to continue on with more advanced classes. The material taught will evolve and will be more tailored to the students in the class. 

2) Our dance ambassador program is being revamped. The dance ambassadors play a key role in helping and welcoming new dancers into our community. This year the dance ambassadors will also form a dedicated practice group. In exchange for the community service the ambassadors perform, at least once a month they will get to take part in a special practice group with our teachers, and receive more personal attention. I'm also happy to announce that Amanda Armstrong will be our new dance ambassador coordinator, and will be managing the program. This year we only have 12-15 spots available and will be opening applications up for these positions. Stay tuned for more information.

3) We will be launching a higher level team that will hopefully continue throughout the year. There are no space limitations on the team, but to join you must demonstrate proficiency over a number of dance skills (dancing with rhythm, mastery of basic moves, and so on). Being on a team is one of the best ways to quickly improve your dancing.

4) Periodically throughout the year we will be holding special clinics and mini workshops designed to help people learn new material or improve specific things. If you have topics you would like to see covered, please reach out to us and let us know. We are still in the planning stages about the content, so there is still time to have input.

5) Boulder Swing hits the road. In 2017 we hope to take some group trips to nearby events. Traveling to out of town swing dance events with a pack of friends is an incredible bonding experience. It is also a great opportunity to dance with people who speak different swing "dialects." Every time I travel to an event I come back a better dancer. We may organize a group outing to Albuquerque, NM or to Camp Hollywood in LA. 

Last year was one of growth at Boulder Swing. We took on new staff and teachers, and had the most dancers join our community ever. I'm looking forward to seeing what 2017 brings, and I'm excited about the possibilities! Finally, we are always looking for volunteers and people to help out. If you would like to become more involved let us know!