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Skidmore College

Latino youth dancers on campus for summit

August 7, 2013
Alma Latina Dance group
Leonel Rosario and his partner, Delores,
the Rochester-based Alma Latina
dance group.

Skidmore will host the first-ever Latino Dance Summit Friday through Sunday, Aug. 9-11, on campus.

Geared toward teen dancers, the summit is a collaborative effort involving the New York Folklore Society, Centro Civico of Amsterdam, Go Art! (Genesee Orleans Regional Arts Council) and Long Island Traditions. The summit will feature a public dance concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10 in Skidmore’s Janet Kinghorn Bernhard Theater. Grupo Taineri, a Puerto Rican ensemble based in the Capital District, will provide musical entertainment. The suggestion donation for admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children under 18.

Lisa Overholser, folklorist with the New York Folklore Society, explained that the goal of the summit is to bring together Latino youth dance groups from across the state for an opportunity to share techniques, to network, and to engage in professional development. The dance concert will highlight the rich variety of Latino dance, which includes genres like salsa, merengue, and bachata, genres that have their roots in traditional Latino culture and have become highly popular outside of the Latino world. In addition, there are hundreds of genres that are unique to specific cultural groups, countries, and regions, she added.

There are six dance groups from across the state scheduled to attend, coming from New York City and Long Island, as well as Amsterdam, Rochester, Utica, and Poughkeepsie.  Said Overholser, “For the dance concert we hope to have as many people as possible attend, including backstretch workers at the Saratoga Race Course, many of whom are from Latin and South America.”

The summit will feature panel discussions on a range of issues, including recruiting and retaining young dancers, a workshop on presenting traditional dances in varying formats, an exchange and show and tell with students in the New York State Summer School for the Arts Dance Program, which also takes place at Skidmore; and a panel for adult leaders of dance groups, on marketing using the web and social media.

The youth participants also will have the chance for a tour of the campus, hosted by Skidmore’s Admissions Office.

Overholser said that participants can plan on gaining knowledge about the best practices of dance groups, and learn more about resources available to foster professional development, youth retention, and presentations strategies. “There are resources available to them, including the resources of the New York Folklore Society, but more importantly, each other. There is an audience – lots of people are interested n what they do. Even people involved in other forms of dance are interested in the value of what they provide to the cultural landscape,” she added.

She added, “The most important thing that group leaders want their youth dancers to gain from this is that the forms they are learning have lots of value, history and interest to the public. Many of the youth in the troupes are learning forms from their homeland, which they may have really had no contact with since they are growing up in America.”

Supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Golub Foundation, the Latino Dance Summit is under the auspices of the Office of the Dean of Special Programs at Skidmore.

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