This year marked my second Dance USA experience. The first time I went by myself to speak on a panel titled “The Blogosphere: Writing About and For Dance”. This year I made the trip up to Minneapolis with a fellow dance writer, Lauren Warnecke. We piled in the car at 6 am and headed out to network and hear more about the current state of our field.
It has taken me a while to write this post because I wanted to think about how to frame it. Based on that, rather than give you a play-by-play of the sessions I attended and what they taught me, I’d rather talk a bit about the main thing that makes this conference well worth attending…
Basically, it comes down to this: the Dance USA Conference is an incredible forum where you can talk with other people in the dance field–from all over the country and beyond. Connecting with other dance professionals from different backgrounds provides an immense opportunity for learning and growth. I even wound up spending more time with people from my own city than I probably would have throughout the course of a year.
Let’s face it, those of us in the dance field often wind up in our own little bubble; busy working, creating and trying to keep everything afloat. The Dance USA Conference provides a kind of “time out” where one is able to get a better perspective on what is going on in other places. It gives you permission to put your own creative process on hold for a little bit, so you can hear more about what others are doing. This can be quite an informative, inspirational thing.
Conference sessions often serve as a starting point for conversations that continue afterwards into the evening over dinner and drinks. There is ample opportunity to meet up with people one-on-one over the course of the conference and talk about common interests, investigate new ideas or simply spend a little time getting to know one another better. When I attended the Dance USA Conference in San Francisco, it was the first time I had met many of my fellow bloggers in person, even though we had been corresponding on the web for some time. The bond we forged over just the course of a few days is one that remains strong even years later.
So, yes, the conference sessions provide interesting information, and yes, the opportunity to see several evenings of dance performances in another city is a wonderful thing. But the real benefit of attending the Dance USA Conference is that of camaraderie and community. It is the chance to form relationships that continue long after the meetings and initial discussions take place. It gives each of us the gift of time to set aside all we are immersed in so that we can tune in to the bigger picture and see things from an entirely different perspective.
And that alone is definitely worth the trip.
Mark your calendars for the Dance USA Conference in 2015, taking place in Miami, Florida from June 17th-20th.