Dance for World Community™

Location:  Cambridge, MA
Project Description: 

Dance for World Community™ actively promotes an expanded role for dance in galvanizing communities in order to meet the civic, social and environmental challenges of today. An initiative of the José Mateo Ballet Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the project seeks to create a closer relationship between dance and social change. It cultivates collaborative relationships between the dance community and local governmental, cultural, and social agencies, so as to inspire action to advance the civic health of local communities. The project involves a set of scale-appropriate activities that incorporate creative programming in four key areas: Leadership, Partnership, Outreach, and Celebration. While the local dance and community organization partnerships take many forms, a key component of this project is the Dance for World Community™ Festival. Sponsored annually, the festival showcases dance presentations by a wide array of performing groups in the community, and offers free classes in a variety of globally diverse dance forms aimed at promoting community understanding and connections. The festival also provides table displays where local government agencies and nonprofit groups can provide festivalgoers with information on available community social programs, and encourage attendees to pursue active involvement in advocacy for community improvement. In 2009, the first annual Dance for World Community™ Festival attracted over 15,000 attendees, and the project’s second annual festival in June 2010 attracted even higher levels of participation. The 2010 festival incorporated presentations by 50 ethnically and culturally diverse dance performance groups – ranging from African dance, to Indian Bollywood style dance, to Chinese, Korean, Brazilian, and Burmese dance forms. The festival also featured table displays for more than 30 social service agencies doing advocacy around diverse civic, environmental and social issues. Other festival events included an active community panel presentation and conversation on how an expansion in the community role of dance might contribute to community improvement efforts. The annual festival concludes with a communal “Dancing in the Streets” experience. Though it currently operates only in the Boston metropolitan area, the Dance for World Community™ project aspires to broader reach. The vision is for this model to be adopted and adapted by dance companies in other communities throughout the United States, to reposition the role of dance in civic problem solving on a nationwide scale.

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