There’s been a lot of talk about community development in the lindy-blogosphere lately, whether it’s tools we can use to better our scene or about the important differences between beg/int and advanced classes — both are articles you should read! With that in mind, I’d like to bring to your attention one of the absolute coolest community-building endeavors that I’ve seen over the last few years: scholarships.
The Atlanta Varsity Showdown, in case you’ve never heard of it, is a mid-size workshop event held in Atlanta every year. It started as a workshop oriented towards college students who didn’t necessarily have the money or time to learn to swing out on their own schedule; it’s an affordable workshop, and it will teach you everything you need to know to swingout in a single weekend.
It’s also a great introduction into the swing scene for new dancers – not only do you learn to dance, but you meet so many people who dance from all over the southeast, and it’s incredibly exciting. Add into that the competitions – it’s stunning for new dancers.
Still, the event is a big commitment, especially when you’re a new dancer. As per the economy, the cost has (of course) gone up. And while the event often falls on fall break for students, spending an entire weekend learning to dance can be intimidating; new dancers are often skeptical that it’s worth the money.
This year, the Emory Swing Club donated money to pay for the registration for five students to attend AVS. This is incredibly exciting to me because it takes the cost out of attending; this way, five students can attend a workshop. In all likelihood they will bring what they learn back to their school and spread the love, which of course helps the community grow even stronger. It also gets them excited about other workshops and events, and even sets them up to start traveling.
I would love to see the use of scholarships more when it comes to workshops – especially workshops on a regional scale. I know that it is common to win a pass to an event through competitions, and I do think one’s skill to be a worthy reason to garner free admission to a great workshop. However, it would be incredibly worthwhile, I believe, to also offer scholarships based on a dancer’s enthusiasm; that dancer might not be incredible in comps, but they are excited, and they are going to spread that excitement back to their home scenes – to other college students, to small scenes, and to people who might not yet have the opportunity to spend a weekend at a workshop with internationally renowned instructors.
Granted, a student could attend nearly any event they wanted if they have the foresight to ask to volunteer. Volunteering is great, too, because it engenders a sense of community and togetherness which you often miss out on. However, I also see the benefits of rewarding the particularly excited and self-motivated students – especially because it engenders so much pride and excitement.
This is a good way to grow our scene. It’s not possible for every event, I know, but it’s still a good way to grow our scene, and it’s really incredible, I think, that Atlanta Varsity Showdown is giving this opportunity to college students.
In conclusion, congratulations to the winners of the 2012 AVS Scholarship! I would list your names, but this is the internet, and I didn’t ask your permission. Regardless, I’m so excited for all of you and your impending adventures in swing dancing!