Swing Your Parents Round! The Family Dance Series Is For Everyone

There are few events in town that give parents and kids the same experience. The Family Dance Series gets everyone moving to the beat.

The Family Dance

Photo: Annie Corrigan

The Harmony School gymnasium hummed with energy as some 60 dancers of all ages moved to the beat.

Event Information

Family Dance Series

An all-ages square dance event for parents and children.


Harmony School

Sunday, March 7, 2010 from 3:00 -5:00 pm

The Harmony School

The Family Dance Series is a Bloomington, Indiana event geared at getting parents and kids to dance together. You don’t need a lot of skill to enjoy it – you just need to be able to walk.

Making Dance Accessible To Everyone

Abby Ladin is the woman who’s making it all happen. These dances are all pretty easy to pick up, she explains. “They’re all community social dances in the square dance family. They’re meant for the lowest common denominator of skill level. You build on everything; you learn as you go.”

As the sometime caller, Ladin modifies some of the traditional dance terminology for the young audience. Words like right allemande and do-si-do wouldn’t be understood by dancers as young as 4 years old. “With kids, instead of saying ‘take the inside hand,’ you might say, ‘take the handy hand.’ And instead of saying ‘ladies and gents,’ we might say, ‘talls and smalls.’”

Ladin grew up on the East Coast. She has been dancing her whole life. Now, she and her husband teach dance and music at festivals all around Indiana. It was at one of these festivals that she saw families dancing together for the first time. “It was a revelation! I’d been dancing all my life and I’d never seen it done like that before. It made so much sense.”

Widespread Interest

This series has been in its planning stages for months. With three children of her own, Ladin was apprehensive about starting something she might not be able to maintain. She had no idea how many folks would be interested in a dance event like this.

“I was kind of banking on forty people. I knew that would make for a good number of people dancing. I really was not thinking any further than that.” She was shocked at the more than 115 people who attended the first dance, in January. “And they were not all my friends!”

The very number of attendees spoke volumes about the need for such an event in Bloomington. “There are lots of events for kids in town, but it’s not really parents and kids sharing the same experience at the same time. This dance unites everyone on the same level.”

Annie Corrigan

Annie Corrigan is a producer and announcer for WFIU. In addition to serving as the local voice for NPR's Morning Edition, she produces WFIU's weekly sustainable food program Earth Eats. She earned degrees in oboe performance from Indiana University and Bowling Green State University.

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