Boulder Arts Commission, Dance Bridge

In 2003, a community need for a centralization of services and resources for both professional and non-professional dance consolidated into the formation of Dance Bridge, coordinated by Mary Wohl Haan, by the Boulder Arts Commission, an agency of the City of Boulder. Working as a ‘bridge’ for the community allows for pertinent communication to take place, simultaneously fostering new collaborations within the dance field. Programs also aim to broaden public participation, making Dance Bridge information and networking central when it comes to dance in the Boulder area.

1. Describe your organization’s mission and its work in 3 adjectives. Please explain the adjectives.

Dance Bridge sprang from a community need for a centralization of services and resources for both professional and non-professional dance. Funded by the city of Boulder Arts Commission, and spearheaded by individual members and organizations to foster a sense of community – communication has always been paramount. Open to all, inclusive of all genres of dance and levels of participation, we have been able to foster new collaborations and strengthen the ‘fabric’ of dance in our area by having an office in our public library. Public support for part-time staff allows for more communication within the dance community and with others. This ‘bridge’ warrants an available ear to listen, help, communicate, advocate, push, pull, and create alongside the community. Dance Bridge’s mandate is to serve the general public, to centralize information and networking, and to work on broadening public participation through promotion and support.

2. What inspires the work of your organization and why?

It is the diversity and spirit of the local dance community that inspires the work of Dance Bridge: the constantly changing needs of people active in the dance community and the knowledge that we all have a lot to share. The community building aspects of art along with the sheer number of audience members wanting to participate is immense. We see how audiences react to programming, their desire to tap into that in themselves, to go beyond, to find a connection, and to feel a connection – this is what it’s about.

3. What accomplishment from the past year is your organization most proud of and eager to share with Dance/USA’s membership and the field at large?

Key ingredients for Dance Bridge’s programming include: free programs that are open to the public, a theater, and other spaces available for use as well as experiential, educational, and entertaining opportunities – working towards excellence.

  • The start of a new ‘Dance Series’ featured performers as well as showcases and collaborations with a local dance cinema festival, scheduling dancers into the Boulder Public Library’s children’s story times, and co-sponsoring the presentation of artistic and scholarly exhibits and programming. The intention was to target and attract different populations from the general public as well as those who use the library as a community resource. They were all very well received!
  • Dance Bridge’s annual "Dance is for Every Body!" showcases continue to be a highlight of the fall season. These allow local professional and non-professional dancers, companies, studios, and schools to present work, works-in-progress, open rehearsals, structured improvisations, and/or activities with audience participation. With the diversity of the community, many groups don't have the funding to stage their own productions. Publicity and space is provided, and because the event is free, it’s a great way to connect with other dancers from various disciplines and with the community. These are sponsored in conjunction with the Boulder Public Library.

4. Where do you see dance in the future and how does your organization fit within that vision?

Art and dance is for everyone - it is a communal celebration of our humanness - Dance Bridge is all about that! The inclusive nature of Dance Bridge is invaluable to its evolution, affecting change by listening to its community and its ever-changing need for connections. There is a dynamic to Dance Bridge that feels like the essence of what dance must be – a conduit that touches the people of Boulder in a profound way, where they live, helping the community connect with this art form by strengthening individual and group awareness, providing meaning and context, instilling greater communication, and facilitating immersion in the field.

5. As an organization, what do you hope your dance legacy to be?

That bridge-building produces a stronger dance community, one that is embraced by the general public and integrated into the fabric of our community. A community through dance!