The Nerdery - Overnight Website Challenge

Minneapolis 2017, April 22-23

Young Dance

Paired with Wifi Wing Workhorse

"You’re young, you’re growing, you’re moving through this world, and dance is a way that you can figure your body out, figure yourself out, figure out this world and who you are,” Kenna-Camara Cottman, a guest artist with Young Dance in 2014, reflected on her experience as a member of the original Young Dance company 25 years earlier.

Young Dance has maintained a strong tradition of offering youth in the Twin Cities community a place to build body and spirit through the creative expression of modern dance for over 25 years. The strong tradition is balanced by a commitment to integrate relevant issues and artistic trends of the times to serve present-day youth. The mission of Young Dance is to transform lives through movement. The dance company and school collaborate with professional artists, establish meaningful community relationships, and push the boundaries of the art and practice of dance.

Through programming initiatives Young Dance promotes the values of life long learning, artistic excellence, inclusion and sustainability. Today, these initiatives include:

• A physically integrated modern dance company that consists of 34 boys and girls, ages 7-18, with and without disabilities, from Minneapolis, St. Paul and surrounding areas.

• A dance school, serving 160 students, offering classes in creative movement and modern dance for youth ages 1 – 18, in five different locations in the Kingfield, Seward, Bancroft, Powderhorn and Downtown neighborhoods of Minneapolis.

• An outreach program that works with schools and community organizations in the Twin Cities to offer dance programming at little or no cost to bridge barriers of geography, socio-economic status and disabilities.

• A model program that integrates dancers with and without disabilities as equal contributors in the learning, choreography and performance of dance.

What new functionality we are looking for

Young Dance is in need of an updated website to better communicate with our constituents and the larger community who we are and the work we do to transform lives through movement. An effective website could serve as a communication hub which conveys the breadth of our programming and draws in new constituents and supporters.

We want a redesign to the architecture that makes it easy to find important information at a glance, optimized for both desktop and mobile devices.

Our ideal website would include the following features:

• Information organized in clear categories, that provide quick answers to questions people may have.

• Improve the registration system, so it is easy to find the information one needs about class and simple to register.

• A way for people to e-mail us through the website.

• People can join the mailing list through our website.

• A clear, readable calendar that provides an easy ways for students and families to stay updated on the schedules of classes, company rehearsals, and special events.

• Video streaming directly from our site, not filtered through another site (vimeo).

• Visual and auditory design choices in line with web accessibility guidelines that improve readability and make it easier to incorporate text to voice technology.

• A page devoted to funding development where we recognize donors, make a compelling case to give to Young Dance, and provide a quick and easy way to make a donation.

• A resource page that provides links to like-minded organizations, serving to connect our constituents to the community and draw in potential students, audience and donors.

• Young Dance staff will be able to easily update the website so the look and information stays current.

How the new functionality will help

This comprehensive website redesign will have a long term and profound impact on Young Dance. These improvements will allow us to better serve our students and families with clear communication. It will help us target messages to draw in new students, build audience and cultivate donors. The visual update of Young Dance will convey longevity as an organization and our desire to grow with technology and the community.

How our organization will use the technology

Current and prospective families and students will easily find pertinent information on the website. Staff will use the website as a tool for communication. We will attract new students, audience and supporters to our organization through our website. Registration for classes will be easy to understand and simplified, mitigating a current barrier for some prospective students.

Moreover, we currently have a holding pattern whenever we need a website update such as listing a new session of classes, adding an event, etc., as we contact a specialist who can update the website for us. We will be able to get information on our website in a timely manner so it is an up-to-date resource for Young Dance information. We will be able to control the ways that information is portrayed on our website, so it effectively and accurately represents our organization.

Who will use the technology

Our website is currently managed by our Communication and School Director, Jennifer Glaws. Ideally all the staff will be using the new functionality, because we each will have the capability of updating information; we will be able to answer questions from constituents by pointing them to the website; we will be able to use the website ourselves as a resource to keep track of the many branches of our programming. The website will be a tool that the staff can utilize, rather than a burden.

Ms. Pick and the Board of Directors, will be able to use the website to portray a picture of our programming when communicating with foundations, corporations and prospective donors.

Our families and students will be excited to see updated video and photos. The website will help us to better communicate to prospective students and audience about our classes and performances.

Before & After Snapshots

Thumbnail_tc2017-youngdance-before Thumbnail_tc2017-youngdance-after

31 Messages from Supporters

2017-03-16 17:31:57 UTC

Young Dance is unique and special. The world is better for the people Young Dance helps grow, and they've been doing it for nearly 30 years. It's not just a dance company, or one of those stereotypical dance groups where kids wear sparkly outfits and too much make-up. My daughter is a member of this dance company, and it's one of the most significant investments we make in who she will become as an adult. Put simply, Young Dance helps create some of the strongest, self-aware young people I've ever met. Whether these dancers ever pursue a future in dancing or not, the foundation of respect, responsibility and creativity fostered by Young Dance in these kids will affect them for the rest of their lives.

2017-03-16 18:19:31 UTC
Emily Winkler-Morey

At that the age of 7, was already used to hearing that my body was wrong. I had too much energy. I showed my emotions in the wrong way. I didn't act like a girl should act. I needed to sit still and use my words.

So when my class went to see Young Dance perform, my first thought was 'I cannot believe those kids are allowed to do that.' followed by ' I HAVE to do that.'

At Young Dance, my body was right.
I learned to channel my energy and share my emotion. I learned to love my body for how it can learn and what it can express. I also learned how to use my words, as I worked together with youth of different ages and backgrounds to communicate our ideas through choreography.

The assurance that my body is right became increasingly important in the 11 years in which I grew up with Young Dance. I hope you will help Young Dance to continue to share that experience with as many kids as possible.

2017-03-16 18:32:41 UTC
Patrick Cabello Hansel

Young Dance is a fantastic organization--so committed to youth, their community and the arts. We are in the middle of our second collaboration with them, and they have been wonderful to work with! They are so creative, yet disciplined; flexible, but organized. They've made such a difference!

2017-03-16 19:18:06 UTC
Jon Morris

In Young Dance over the last several years, we have seen how being treated as an artist, given the freedom to collaborate and express themselves, our 2 children have developed amazing confidence and comfort with their own bodies and ideas.
Young Dance's supportive, collaborative, approach to an art form that all too often can be competitive and adult-centered makes it possible for any BODY to grow through movement.
If only more kids could find out about and participate in Young Dance!

2017-03-16 21:45:35 UTC
Megan Thimmesch, Student Board Rep (1/3).

When I was eight years old, my case manager and I sat down to talk about Young Dance. I was coming from a school which had little to no experience working and interacting with disabled students, and I was suffering for it. I was angry and sad and very, very lonely. I was born with a significance hearing impairment in one ear, and a mild hearing loss in the other. I wear two hearings aids, and am required to bring an FM (sort of like a personal microphone) to my every class.

Since I had an interest in and had taken dance classes before, my case manager offered to refer me and my mom to Young Dance, which was just starting its disability-focused program. I auditioned to get in, and joined the first Young Dance disability project, which was centered on the hearing spectrum. Over the course of the year, the group explored how we each communicate - through our hands, our mouths, our words - and discovered how we each experienced things differently. For me, it was a wonderful opportunity to be around people in a similar situation (I found it comforting) and it was an amazing opportunity to befriend kids my age. Imagine my surprise in finding that not everyone there was without their hearing! Whoaza!

My experiences were overall so well - the student performance was literally the best moment of my life, aside from meeting my brother - that my mom asked if I wanted to join during the following year. After seeing the close bonds and familial joy each person shared with each other inside of the company, I agreed, and auditioned again. I got in, and, eight years later, I'm still a proud company member.

The Young Dance experience that I had was largely centered on social and physical challenges: I had to learn how to process sound even faster than I usually did, because if one person was off-beat, then everyone else looked bad. I had to really listen, or I wouldn't understand what was going on, and miss the cue. Lemme tell ya, it's really, obscenely easy to tell if someone didn't understand your words: they go left when you say right, and trip when you say fall over. It was embarrassing, yes, but learning to really pay attention and make up for the deficit my hearing gives me helped me really learn to problem-solve, rather than be quiet. I had no choice but to advocate; if I did something wrong because I didn't hear, everyone would know. It was better to ask the first time rather than ask after wards, when everyone was laughing at me.

I believe that my current intelligence is due in large part to the constant problem-solving that the Young Dance culture presented to me: as a dancer, I needed to be creative, and as a disabled individual, I needed to become an activist. Thankfully, I seem to accomplished both.

Socially, my skills went from lower Neanderthal to I'm-not-a-butterfly-but-let-me-flap-my-wings-and-try. That is to say, I improved. To be more specific, the person that I was before entering Young Dance would not have been able to sit down and write this account out, because she would've been too scared; too afraid of a rejective reaction to even try and breach walls between her and everyone else. The person I am is credited hugely to the pervasive and self-sustaining group that Young Dance is; there is work, and there is play, and even if you're not caught up in the play between friends, you're still part of the group. You're still a part of Young Dance. Words cannot describe the sensationalism of being one in a group that supports.

And, aside from giving my skills the mega-boost they need, Young Dance has mega-helped me think about and fully develop my plan for the future. I started thinking about who I am and where I want to be when I transferred schools (and case managers) at age eight, but working with the Young Dance Board has really helped me figure out who I want to be as a person, and what I want to be in the world. It's a bit complicated, so I won't go into details here - though a representative can contact me if they would still like to know - but basically, working with a varied, developed group of adults as individuals (rather than clay-like children) really helped me understand the value of working in a group, and working for other people.

I will walk across my high school stage in June with a business perspective, a community behind me, and the skills I need to make myself into a strong and independent being. Thank you, Young Dance, for helping me to succeed!!

2017-03-17 02:45:03 UTC
Laura Fritz

I am just getting involved with Young Dance as a new member of the Board of Directors. I have been so impressed with the organization in how it recruits board members, involves young dancers in the leadership of the organization and all elements of dance, and thinks deeply about its impact on the community and future goals. Young Dance is committed to positively changing the lives of young people through not only movement, but experiences with people different than them. Providing youth with the chance to learn, grow, and develop in a supportive, welcoming environment is powerful and essential to building self-confidence. These are the kind of people I want leading the world in the years to come!

2017-03-17 03:54:42 UTC
Ella T.

I've been dancing with Young Dance for about 8 years, and it's one of the best things that has ever happened to me. From an early age it has taught me how to move and express myself, while also being a safe place for me to explore who I am, and who I can be. I've met so many amazing people through Young Dance, from dancers like myself to choreographers who have made me think in interesting and different ways. I don't exaggerate when I say Young Dance is integral to who I am; This organization has impacted my life in so many ways, and I am a vastly different and better person because of it.

2017-03-17 12:27:49 UTC
Rachel Gagliardi

We feel beyond fortunate to have found a non-compete dance program that puts a key focus - Transforming Lives Through Movement - at it's center. Dance instruction for the company keeps pace with the shifting trends and modern dance history to provide a well-rounded experience.

My own daughter is part of the company of dancers. She's grown beyond the world of metrics and statistics to embody characteristics including empathy, understanding, kindness, inclusion, hospitality, curiosity, and joy. Young Dance has provided a sense of belonging, hope, and wonder in a space with modern dance instruction.

In a sea of competition, Young Dance allows students to find space for their creativity and artistry. I look forward to increasing access to Young Dance for every budding artist/dancer in our community!

2017-03-17 13:41:21 UTC
A Young Dance Parent

It didn't take long for me to understand that being a part of Young Dance gives my daughter opportunities beyond dancing. She has grown in her ability to collaborate with her peers and explore her creative process. I really value this and want to support Young Dance in whatever ways I am able.

2017-03-17 14:12:06 UTC
Liz Hannan

We are so grateful that we heard about Young Dance for our son who has Down Syndrome. He is welcomed and included in a meaningful way. He has learned so much about dance and movement. He has also learned about being part of a group that looks at strengths instead of deficits, is accepting, respectful and allows him to grow and express himself in a safe environment. What he has learned goes way beyond dance. His experience at YD is helping to prepare him for life as a creative, independent and contributing member of the community. We love Young Dance!!

2017-03-17 14:43:55 UTC
Jessica Briggs

What a wonderful organization! I spent a few years serving on the board and was able to witness a passionate group who do so much with so little. They truly put their community first, asking what is best for the students and their families in every choice they make.

The most incredible part of this organization is their all abilities programming, redefining the dancing body and who is "allowed" to participate in dance.

Young Dance Matters because it provides a safe environment for children to build friendships, community, and find personal growth.

2017-03-17 14:54:05 UTC
SHANA CRAWFORD Young Dance Co. Alum.

Young Dance really is a safe space ... its always positive, it’s trying to help you accomplish what you’re doing and make it better, which I think is a very rare form of attention to creating work. I've gone off into the world a strong dancer and a closer listener, which I attribute very much to Young Dance.

2017-03-17 15:39:09 UTC
Mariah Johnson

Young Dance has been an invaluable resource as well as a vital part of the development and growth of our adaptive dance program. As a dance teacher in the Minneapolis Public Schools, I was charged with creating and teaching an adaptive dance class. The class includes students with a wide range of disabilities. Due to lack of experience, I found myself researching for resources in the Twin Cities, that could assist me in creating curriculum and providing a meaningful movement experiences for all students in my class regardless of their limitations. Young Dance was one of the few resources I came upon. Young Dance has not only provided movement experiences for the adaptive dance class through residencies but has also guided and created curriculum to assist in long-term implementing and teaching. They have changed my approach in teaching the adaptive dance class, enriched our adaptive dance program, and made an impact in student development and learning.

2017-03-17 19:37:38 UTC
Charisse Ponder

As a Young Dance teacher and assistant, all I can say is that the care and nurturing that Young Dance feeds the twin city communities is uniquue and outstanding. The bond that keeps flourishing between students, families, and staff is heartwarming. Young Dance just feels incredibly right! I am being continuously enriched personally by Young Dance.
Young Dance is vital!

2017-03-18 03:14:04 UTC

Young dance has helped shape who I am in so many ways, I can't and don't want to think of what my life would be without Young dance. They have helped me express who I am in no way any other dance class can. Youmg dance shows us problems on the world am deathly he,so is realize who we can make an impact on the world and people around us, just this small impact sets a chang reaction it's good to know that you are making a difference through dance with Young dance. Young dance truly do impact the community the community in no way any other dance company can.

2017-03-18 02:35:36 UTC
Angelique Lele

Prior to landing in a wheelchair I taught yoga and some aerial workshops, I did massage, I was an actor and an aerialist. It was the life I created for myself. I didn’t want to become paralyzed and have that ripped away from me. Well…really…who does?

I was plopped into Young Dance two years after I had fallen from my trapeze and landed in a wheelchair. Dwayne Scheuneman, my angel, was in town leading a dance workshop, and he took me. He introduced me to Gretchen Pick…who was to have a big and wonderful influence on my dancing life over the next few years…and put me in the middle of a class. I was so taken by these kids of all ages who seemed incredibly grounded and self aware. They made eye contact with me, they listened, they weren’t afraid or intimidated by my wheelchair, they WANTED to partner with me, they each moved in their own beautiful way and that made me feel free enough to start to move the new body I was dealing with…that I was learning to feel comfortable with.

Moving with them, I remembered what I had been missing those last couple of years. It was as if I had suddenly come to the surface of the water and filled my lungs with air.

Each one of these students has taught me a great deal, not just about dance, but about letting go, about trust and about acceptance on this journey. I assist, when they need me but I show up as much as I can because I learn so much.

2017-03-18 17:37:57 UTC
Mike Cohn

As a dancer who started late in life Young Dance All Ability program has been a great wway to learn and teach others how a persn ca move and dance useing a walker.
A new web page would be a great tool to move our Young Dance dancers and hope to reach out and teach / move people who want to dance and are dealing with a disability. Young Dance Integrative dancers learn and teach.

2017-03-19 02:49:30 UTC

My daughter started in Young Dance as a toddler.
I remember her rolling, jumping, freezing - the joy of movement!
Young Dance then gave her a medium to explore how to move, ways to move - to be big, small, silly, loud.

She is now 12, and launching into adulthood. She is exploring who she is as a young woman.
Young Dance gives her a place to explore what it means to be physical, to be outrageous, to be quiet, to touch, to run, to leap, to roll - she gets to explore what it means to be human.
This happens in a safe and supportive context.
This happens with peers, with professionals, with older and younger dancers.
This happens with other dancers, of other abilities, of other races, of other religion.
She is exploring what it means to be a dance and she is learning what it means to be a human.

Thank you Young Dance!

2017-03-19 03:33:19 UTC
Justin Jones

Young dance Transforms Lives though movement! At young dance, Youth learn powerful "soft skills" through the creative dance making process that equip them to confidently move though their lives as leaders and members of communities .

2017-03-19 15:15:03 UTC
Becky Heist

I served on the board of Young Dance for four years because I believe so strongly in this organization. The artistic directors and staff are fully committed to bring the experience of dance to many young people in the Twin Cities. They offer a creative approach to movement to children of all abilities. The company members are exposed to an array of dance makers, drawn from the community.
Last year I was invited to teach modern technique and choreograph a dance for 14 of the company members, ranging in age from 8 to 18. Working with them was one of the most rewarding creative experiences I have had in my 40 plus years as a dance teacher and choreographer. Those kids were focused, knew how to work independently, acted with respect towards each other as well as to me, and performed the dance with feeling. My time with them was good because of the philosophy and structural functioning of the organization.

2017-03-19 16:37:09 UTC
June Thiemann

Young Dance represents nothing short of a Copernican moment for me (as a parent and human being). Before Young Dance, dance revolved around blind adherence to a set of steps dictated by someone else. After Young Dance, dance became about living, breathing human beings, all of whom were dancers who I could now SEE!

2017-03-19 16:42:16 UTC
Richard Stever-Zeitlin

Young Dance isn't just an important youth arts organization for the Twin Cities, it's an important arts organization for the Twin Cities. How many arts organizations in our area serve as diverse a population as does Young Dance?

2017-03-20 01:07:13 UTC
Izzie G

I haven't been with young dance for a long time, but from what I have experienced, I have learned that Young Dance is an amazing organization that has helped me grow as a dancer. They are not just a normal dance company, part of the fact is that it's a bunch of people ages 7-18 in a company. We're dancers that are so creative and great problem solvers. The adults in charge of these classes and of the whole project don't know how much it means to the dancers that they are helping us. So many people have changed my life since I've been at your dance and I can't even begin to explain my emotions. The one class that is the most unique and the one thing I have never seen any other dance studio do is ALL ABILITIES! Sometimes people don't understand that everyone can dance and everyone should have access to dance in whatever definition of dance is to that person. I've had so many different duets and trios and dances that have occurred in that safe space that have touched my heart. The all abilities class has some of the world's most sweetest dancers in it, even the teacher is amazing and always trying to find new and unique ways to make a safe and equal environment for everyone to dance in. Young dance has become part of my life and I believe that young dance will always be a part of my life, even when I graduate high school. Young dance has changed my out look on the world and for that I am eternally grateful to my teachers and my choreographers.

2017-03-20 02:29:49 UTC
nancy bo flood

This dance community is amazing - all inclusive for all abilities, all backgrounds, all people. They celebrate our earth and the people living on it while encouraging young people to enjoy movement while being part of a supportive dance community. They reach out to neighborhoods and schools. They bring dance to parks, malls, and schools. I fully encourage you to add your support to this organization.

2017-03-23 19:32:47 UTC
Cynthia Reed

When my daughter was young --say 3 or 4--she started asking for dance lessons like her older brother. The fact that cerebral palsy made it impossible for her to walk or even stand independently bothered her not at all. She wanted to dance, and she didn't understand why there weren't classes available to her. Slowly, over time, she stopped seeing herself as a dancer. Flash forward to the miracle of the Young Dance All Abilities class, and the space they have created for Eva and dancers of all amazing and different bodies to create beautiful, transformative dance together. Eva has found such freedom and power and discipline and joy and belonging in Young Dance, there are truly not adequate words to do it justice. She says "the people at Young Dance see me as a whole person." And being a dancer is one of the first ways she would describe herself.

2017-03-27 14:33:21 UTC
Eben K

I grew up as a Young Dancer and can say with complete confidence that I would not be the person I am today with out my friends and teachers in this company. At the time, I didn't realize how unique many of the opportunities Gretchen and Kaori created/found for us to perform were. Just one example is one summer, Young Dance performed with the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in the Walker Sculpture Garden. That kind of exposure to seeing "real" dancers, as well as the supportive and creative environment of Young Dance inspired me to pursue a path in dance and the arts through college and beyond.

I cannot overstate how beneficial Young Dance is to our community, providing a safe, fun, healthy, and lively place to get moving!!!

2017-03-30 20:40:49 UTC
Lori Mercil

As an assistant for Young Dance for the past couple of years, I have seen first-hand the impact of this important organization on students, families, staff, and the community. The programming is fabulous, and so positive! The lessons learned by everyone involved in Young Dance expand far beyond the dance studio, and are a great reminder of the importance of the arts in our communities.

2017-03-30 21:23:59 UTC
A grateful parent

My daughter joined Young Dance for the dancing but stayed for the strong community and supportive relationships. It's really the combination that makes Young Dance such a special place. The emphasis on collaboration between the students, teachers, and guest artists is invigorating and ever-changing, so it stays interesting. Student dancers are encouraged to add their perspectives, both through creative movement and through their verbal input in developing new dances. The dancers, whatever their physical abilities, all benefit from feeling like they, and their ideas, matter. Thanks, Young Dance!

2017-03-30 22:41:07 UTC
Elsabet Roth

I had incredible experiences with Young Dance that helped shape who I am today. As a member of Young Dance for 11 years I was challenged to try new things, I learned about different cultures, people, and art forms, all of which presented a view of the world that continued to grow. Young Dance not only supports youth and families and provides a safe and supported outlet for creative expression and movement, but it does so with an open heart, encouraging inclusion for all.
I have so much love and gratitude for Young Dance!

2017-03-31 03:43:36 UTC
Nikki LaSorella

Two days after the death of a friend of 43 years, Young Dance was having their annual Spaghetti fundraiser at Powderhorn Park. Every year chalk invitations fill the sidewalk on 15th Avenue, the block I live on, and this year I decided to go. Although I knew of Young Dance, I hadn't known the depth of its commitment to young people of all abilities and disabilities. The beauty of seeing the grace of dancers and the love that filled the gym from teachers, students, their friends and family began the healing from my recent loss.

I have no children of my own to be part of this dance organization. However, their commitment to inclusiveness and social justice makes me a believer in what a remarkable organization Young Dance is for youth and our community.

2017-04-03 16:17:39 UTC
Maria Gomez Tierney

As a board member for four years and artist and teacher since 2007, I've been inspired by this organization. Young Dance is unique and extraordinary. It's evolution over the past 2-3 decades has occurred because of a group of devoted dance artists, teachers and leaders from our community that chose to shape Young Dance into a power house youth dance community that fosters dance artistry and education, and youth empowerment. But the organization goes further; the students are given opportunity to make connections within our diverse community to other practicing artists, educators, thinkers, and to our rich and diverse culture in the Twin City area. The Young Dance Organization as a whole from Staff to Board to students, cultivates compassion, leadership, understanding of "other," mentors belonging and provides a democratic space for youth of every individuality and ability to grow in the art of dance and being human.

Our Mission

The mission of Young Dance is to transform lives through movement. Our purpose is to provide young people with a safe space to be artists and, through dance, to embody individual expression, group collaboration and an understanding of ways that the arts exist in and impact communities.