By Mary Beth Beckman
This issue of Sheer Dance is amazing. I just have to say it; it is absolutely incredible. This community pulled together to put on a fantastic event in Dance Fest, and then came together again to produce a beautiful publication dedicated to Dance Fest's success. To everyone who was a part of either endeavor, whether competing, spectating, judging, volunteering, writing, or taking photos, I offer you my sincerest gratitude. You are amazing.
Nearest and dearest to my heart are the volunteers, but you probably already knew that. There's a joke about a few of us being full-time volunteers, but there's a lot of truth to it. The Minnesota dance community is fortunate to have a group of highly dedicated, very skilled volunteers who have donated thousands of hours, sacrificed sleep and work days and proper nutrition, all to make dancing more accessible. I don't think that kind of loyalty or dedication can be purchased. It has to come from something driving and internal, a need to do.
My fellow volunteers and I created this beautiful publication from nothing. My fellow volunteers and I created Dance Fest out of nothing, in just thirty days, and it was a smashing success. People felt welcomed, the ambiance was alive with excitement and utter joy, and that happened because of volunteers.
We owe a great many people our thanks: the dancers, without whom there would be no need for competitions; the spectators, whose support for friends, loved ones, and strangers alike keep us feeling motivated; the professionals, who offered their highly valued expertise and brought authority to the occasion; and the sponsors, whose extremely generous donations made it possible for college students to come to the event, and that helped a huge number of competitors go home with extra money in their pockets. If any of you hadn't put your trust and resources into Dance Fest, it would not have happened. You are essential and appreciated.
The magnitude of what we've done as a community is staggering. I've been registrar for several dance events, and this was the first time I felt utterly confident in what we were offering. The warm, natural light in the venue, the smiling people, the great music, the vibrant announcer—all of it came together beyond any expectations our team had.
If you've ever volunteered, you'll know that gratitude is almost nonexistent. No news is good news, and your work will almost always go unnoticed. It's part of the gig. So I was floored when I received more positive feedback from people at Dance Fest than I had for all the other events I've helped run combined. Throughout the weekend, competitors stopped at the registration desk, leaned in close, and told me what a wonderful time they were having, and how grateful they were to everyone who had worked so hard to put the event together.
Dance Fest was a rejuvenating experience for me as a volunteer. I was part of and witnessed so many meaningful connections that I can't wait to get everyone back together in October for Minnesota Ballroom Blast. I want to help bring this kind of joy to people's lives again. And I hope reading this issue of Sheer Dance will remind people just how spectacular Dance Fest was, and how amazing next year's event is sure to be.