Terrence Smith Folk Dance Program

Project Details by Fiscal Year
Fund Source
Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund
Activity Type
Counties Affected
Lake of the Woods
St. Louis
Lake of the Woods
St. Louis
Project Overview

Duluth Folk Dancer and Caller, Terrence Smith, presented a program of participatory folk dancing, brief historical examples of the dances, especially from the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, and music at 9 public libraries, 3 schools, 5 community centers, 2 child cares, 1 ECFE event, and 1 senior center. The program was designed for the ages of the audience. Therefore, each program was a little different.

Terrence was very enthusiastic and energetic at all the programs. At the community dances, he taught dances, then had everyone participate in the Big Circles and Reels. He included some antidotes and stories in between the dances. Also, there were some smaller circle dances. At the Senior Center, he did mostly sing-a-longs and handed out a few rhythm instruments for the participants to play. The seniors joined in the singing. Many Headstart classes attended the program at the Chisholm Library. He did some Playparties, and some songs with actions. At the Hoyt Lakes Library, because the group was small, Terrence included a story about the “Houseparty” part of Minnesota history and on these occasions people enjoyed the simplicity of a few neighbors gathering. At Duluth Public Library, the dance program was included as a part of their baby and toddler storytimes emphasizing early literacy. The parents danced while holding their babies. In Grand Marais, the intergenerational program included Terrence Smith’s dancing, community storytelling, and “homemade wrapping paper.” Terrence Smith summed it up, “Sipping coffee, and listening to the stories, and then watching another artist work with the group made me grateful for that sense of the Arts being fostered on a regular basis, and opportunity to work in such a fine setting.”

648 babies, toddlers, children, teens, and adults attended the dance programs at 21 locations in the Arrowhead Library System Region.

630 had not participated in folk dance programs prior to this dance program.

Project Details

Event Dates and Locations: Nov. 13, 17, 20, 25, Dec. 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, 11, 12, 15, 18, 19, 23, 2009 in several regional libraries, schools, community centers child care centers and senior center.

Partner Organization(s):   The Arrowhead Regional Arts Council in Duluth, MN

Partner Organization Contribution/Role in the Activity:  The Partner Organization Director is a member of the Arrowhead Library System Legacy Arts Committee.  The Partner Organization recommended Terrence Smith for our program and provided the contact information.

Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Measurable Outcomes may be collected by survey, anecdotal responses, post-test; End user change in Behavior, Attitude, Skills, Knowledge, Condition and/or StatusOutcomes were collected by paper survey at the end of the program. There were a few observations and anecdotal responses.

Measurable Outcome(s)
  • One little boy at the Duluth Public Library Toddler Storytime actively participated with the group for the first time in over a year. According to the library staff, it took a lot of persuasion to get him to come to storytime, and, once he was there, he would hide under the furniture and behind posts. At the folk dance program with Terrence Smith, he hid behind the post in the beginning, but as Terrence Smith strummed his guitar and led the group in song, the boy, who has many life challenges, moved from behind a post to the center of the dance circle and began moving to the rhythm of the music. A young mother reached out a a finger to him inviting him to her and her baby as they danced to another tune. As a testament to the magic in the room, he joined her with a happy smiling face and no hesitation.
  • One senior citizen at the Babbitt Public Library Community Dance had so much fun dancing with another participant whom he did not know that he asked the Library Director if the library would be having more folk dances in the future. The Library Director told him about a folk dance club in a neighboring community.
  • At the Gilbert Public Library Community dance, all of the pre-teen boys who started out by the side of the room had been drawn into the dancing by the end of the program. One autistic boy who has a problem interacting with peers was observed to be very actively involved in the dancing.
  • A participant at the Aurora Community Dance commented on the "excellent instruction about dance culture. I appreciate your dedication to keep folk dance, townhall culture, manners & courtesy going."
  • A girl at the Babbitt school program commented, "It was nice to have someone come in & teach us some things about culture."
  • Participants learned 5 to 7 new dances. Only 8 participants said they learned only 1 new dance according to the written surveys.
  • 80 participants said their motor skills improved according to the written surveys.
  • 325 participants said they participated in the dancing. No one said they did not participate in the dancing according to the written surveys..
  • 314 participants said they would attend a dance program in the future. 8 participants said they would not attend a dance program in the future. (All 8 who said they would not attend a dance program again participated at the school). This is from the written surveys.
  • "Fun' was the word most people used in commenting about the program. One person commented on the "warm sense of community."
  • Because there was funding to hold the program in more than one place in some communities, some of the kids that attended during the school program got their parents to come to the community program, and they were able to help the adults with some of the dances they had learned earlier in the day.
Administered By
Administered by

1500 Highway 36 West
Roseville, MN 55113-4266