Design for Dance is an annual conference founded by BJ Fogg and the Stanford Persuasive Technology lab on dance, behavior and innovation. The event, which I now run, is in its third year and will be taking place in Palo Alto, CA on May 7th.
What is Design for Dance?
The conference is a gathering for innovators, health organizations, educators and researchers who see value in getting people to dance more. To be clear, our focus is not “why dance?” (that’s understood). Instead, we focus on highlighting practical solutions and near-term opportunities.
Why this conference?
Ultimately, our hope is to catalyze a rebirth of dancing in our culture and communities. This year we are focusing on the idea of “Dance @ Work” and presenting novel solutions for improving employee wellness and engagement through dance.
Over the last year I’ve met an amazing number of innovators, artists, and entrepreneurs all working around the theme of dance. Some of them are going to be presenting at this year’s Design for Dance.
A common part of many of these conversations have included the question “where do I start” for someone new to dance. It is easy for those of us with some background in movement to forget how scary it is to begin. To begin to tackle this question – for the novice just wanting to learn more – I’ve put together a curated guide including videos, people, products, and new ideas. I’m pleased to share Robin Zander’s first ever Guide to Dance (2015).
I’m sure I’ve missed dozens of people, products, videos, and innovations I absolutely should include. Please suggest them in the comments or send me an email with your ideas. W will be accepting applications for speakers for Design for Dance 2016 in a few months. In the mean time, if this Guide to Dance is useful, share it with someone you’d like to dance with more.
I started dancing in my early 20s, about the time my peers were pairing off into their chosen careers. While my 20-something peers didn’t condone dancing, I grew up in a town where football was king, and pick-up trucks pulling donuts in the High School parking lot was considered an excellent form of after school entertainment. To say that a man dancing was socially unacceptable is to mistakenly called getting covered in rotten eggs (which also happened) a slightly uncomfortable experience.
But my humiliation around dance didn’t stop with the lack of my peers’ judgement. I’m pretty sure I was my own worst critic in my first ballet class, surround by beautiful, experienced ballet women, wearing corduroy and completely unaware of the french techniques being described. Somehow I survived my childhood, and my college ballet class mortification and have only danced more every week in the ten years since.
I share these early experiences so that you, the reader, might understand that you don’t have to be born in a culture that accepts dancing, to be able to dance. I hear regularly, when asked what I do, some version of admiration followed by self-denial. “That’s great that you dance so much. I couldn’t ever, I have two left feet.” This is my manifesto and the message is simple: you, too, can dance. And you probably should.
Doubters, read this first:
- Dance has always been around, is here to stay.
- The first documented evidence of dance is some 9 thousand years old
- Dance can be found as an element in every major and minor modern religion
- Every country in the world has some native form of dance, most have many
- 17 million people around the world dance Zumba each week
- Videos of dance are more likely to be shared virally on social media than any other single topic
- Whether you are approaching dance from a business, health, financial, social or dating perspective dance has something important to offer.
Beginners Start Here
The way I learned to dance need not be the way you go about beginning. I don’t recommend getting egged, or doing ballet wearing corduroy. Instead, start simpler.
The 7 Simple Steps To Dance
- Make sure you are alone in a room. No one is watching you.
- Turn on a song that you know well and enjoy
- Close your eyes
- No, really: close your eyes
- Listen to the music
- Begin moving in any way to the music that you hear
- Pay attention to how you are moving – both how it feels and what you are actually doing
Congratulations, you just danced.
I am organizing Design for Dance, a conference put by Stanford University’s BJ Fogg and the Persuasive Technology Lab. If you are interested, sign up for my mailing list and I’ll keep you apprised of the details!