In 1999, Community-Minded Dance founder and executive director Caryn Carrasco found herself enveloped in the cultural revival of American swing music and dance. Frankie Manning and Norma Miller, swing dancing legends from Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom, traveled to cities around the world, bringing the spirit and movement of America’s roots to a new generation. Inspired by this global community, Caryn enlisted a team to establish CMDance as Denver’s first and only organization responsible for world-class social dance education and arts programming.
As the staff invited swing, and later Argentine tango, dance instructors to teach eager beginners at workshops in Colorado, they witnessed the transformation of a community. Through expressing the music and communicating with a partner, class participants experienced illuminating personal breakthroughs. New dancers built courage, self-esteem, and teamwork skills by taking emotional, physical, and artistic risks.
Soon after, CMDance expanded its programs to bring the life-changing impact of dance education to youth in Colorado. Jan Justice, a workshop dancer and teacher at Grandview High School, invited Caryn to serve on the board of the Colorado Dance Alliance and to place world-renowned dance instructors in classrooms at Grandview and Smoky Hills high schools. In 2007, CMDance secured 501c3 status and began to respond to the high demand from school administrators for our programming. In 2010 CMDance partnered with Denver Mayor’s Office of Children’s Affairs and Denver Great Kids Head Start (DGKHS) to develop a program that would introduce dance and movement into Head Start classrooms. Our unique intervention supports state early learning standards and offers enrolled children and Head Start staff the opportunity to make movement and the acquisition of fine and gross motor skills inviting and fun for the children.
CMDance holds a prominent position in the Colorado arts scene with both its school outreach and broader community engagement. CMDance hosts 3 annual nationally recognized dance events, and 100% of the funds from those events support our youth programs. Through our collaborations and partnerships with Arts and Venues Denver, Denver Art Museum, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Denver Botanic Gardens, Downtown Denver Partnership, Tango Colorado, and Colorado Swing Dance Club. we bring the joy and global culture of dance to Colorado residents through education and flash mob style and public space performances.