Dance Recess 2017

When: July 30 – Aug 7, 2017 (1 week)

Where: Colorado

Who: 15 participants

Ages: 15-19 (flexible)

Program Leaders: Blake Boles, Dev Carey, Milla von Tauber, and Lainey Bein

How Much: $975
Program fee includes all lodging, meals, dance instruction, and ground transportation.
Returning Unschool Adventures participants receive a 10% discount.

Arrival/Departure Location: Denver International Airport

Priority Application Date: April 17th, 2017

Application Status: Open!

Apply Now

Dance Recess is a jam-packed week of dancing in the mountains of Colorado, led in partnership with Recess Productions.

Here at Unschool Adventures, we’re always designing new and different programs to offer to the global community of teenage unschoolers, homeschoolers, and self-directed learners.

Something we noticed a number of years ago in our community was a budding interest in partner dancing—blues, swing, and tango, for example. In these dances, one person leads and the other follows. There is an emphasis on spontaneity and musicality, as opposed to choreographed moves. Ultimately, the purpose of these dances is to create a strong feeling of connection with your partner and to have fun—values that mesh well with Unschool Adventures.

We dreamed for many years about offering a dance-related program, but nothing ever came together—until now.

Through our friends at the High Desert Center in Colorado, we were introduced to Recess Productions: a group of dancers who host multi-day dance festivals in beautiful outdoor locations, traveling across the country in a retrofitted yellow school bus.

We reached out to Justin Riley, the award-winning dancer who founded Recess, to express interest in partnering to offer a teen program. To our delight, Justin and the Recess team were even more excited than we were. They loved the idea of offering a special program just for teenagers and then bridging that program into one of the official Recess dance festivals.

Thus was born Dance Recess 2017: a fun and intensive week of dance in the mountains of Colorado, culminating in the 4-night Aspen Recess event. We’re incredibly excited to offer the Unschool Adventures community this rare opportunity to combine world-class private dance instruction with a magical multi-day dance festival in the mountains.


Sunday, July 30th: The experience begins at Denver International Airport, where our group gathers in the afternoon and travels together in a small fleet of minivans to Paonia (in far western Colorado) where we move into bunk-beds at the High Desert Center, hosted by Dev Carey and Marian Pierce. Get lots of sleep, because dancing starts the next morning!

Monday, July 31st – Tuesday August 1st: In the morning we meet the minds behind Recess Productions, and for two days, we’ll receive private group instruction in fusion dancing (see below for explanation). Between lessons there will be free time for hanging out on the High Desert Center property, free-form conversations, and short hikes. Each night there will be opportunities for open social dancing.

Wednesday, August 2nd: On our third full day we’ll migrate into the mountains above Paonia, help set up camp, and continue learning and practicing in the high mountains. We’ll dance the night away in the woods and spend the night camping under the stars (or a tarp, if rain is possible) in an outdoor sleepover with all of your friends.

Thursday, August 3rd – Monday August 7th: The next morning we’ll pack up and drive across the state to Camp Tahosa, a boy scout camp property not far from Boulder, Colorado. We’ll help the Recess team set up for their big event: Aspen Recess, a 4-night dance festival in which we’ll be fully participating! Each day of the event will include dance lessons, nighttime social dancing, and down time for relaxing. Our group will enjoy our own 20-bunk cabin, and we will actively volunteer in the cooking, setup, and teardown of the event.

Monday August 7th: In the morning we’ll help clean up the event and then drive back to Denver airport, where you’ll fly home (unless you’re getting picked up locally). You’ll leave the program happily exhausted—having gained new dance skills, dozens of new friends, and unforgettable memories.

Video highlights from a past Recess event

Who is This Program For?

Dance Recess is for anyone who wants to dance. You don’t need previous experience to join the program; you can start from zero. That being said, any previous experience that you have with blues, swing, tango, salsa, or any other form of lead/follow partner dance will only help you. And if you’re an experienced partner dancer, this will be a big opportunity to level up. No matter who you are, as long as you’re passionate about learning to partner dance, this program is for you.

Dance Recess is for those who are ready to lead and follow. If you already have a preference for leading or following, that’s great! You’ll have many opportunities to practice in that role. But be ready to explore the other role, at least a little. The Recess community emphasizes role switching (leaders become followers, followers become leaders) as a way to improve your dance and better empathize with your partners.

Dance Recess is for those who want to help create an event, not just consume it. Volunteering is a big part of Recess culture—everyone helps make the festival happen. Our group will help cook the meals, clean dishes, and set up the outdoor venues. You don’t need any special skills to be useful in these roles, just a genuine desire to be helpful.

Dance Recess is for teens who can take care of themselves at a large, high-energy dance festival. The Aspen Recess is open to the public, and that means that participants should be ready to interact with other dancers who are older than them. This program is for mature teenagers who can advocate for themselves and do not require constant supervision to have a successful experience. See the FAQ for more information.

What is Fusion?

In this program we’ll be learning and practicing fusion, a form of partner dance that’s most similar to blues, but with more freedom, expression, and connection. Fusion dancing allows you to dance to almost any type of music with a beat, in both open and close embrace.

Watch the video below of Recess founder (and one of our dance instructors) Justin Riley dancing fusion (as a follow) with his friend Emiliano Estevez in Paris:

Here’s another video showing basic fusion dancing (and fewer of the fancy moves that Justin and Emiliano display above):

Finally, here’s a Spotify playlist of fusion music created by U.A. director Blake Boles after he went to a Recess event in Fall 2016; it will give you an idea of the type of music you might be dancing to.

Meet Your Instructors

Justin Riley ( is the head organizer and founder of Recess Productions. Since 2001, Justin has studied, danced, and taught over a dozen forms of dances in more than 30 countries. He brings an international and nuanced style to every class, DJ set, and dance he does. In 2005 Justin fell in love with the Blues, Fusion, and Alternative-Blues movement and has never looked back. Since that time, he has become recognized as an international instructor and community organizer. (Photo: Lucy Schultz Photography @ Mile High Blues 2016)


Flouer Evelyn ( is the founder of Blues Dance New York, a company out of which she organizes & teaches Blues Dancing. In 2013, she founded Fusion Dance NYC and began exploring the world of fusion dance with her events Melting Pot & Motley Hue. Traveling for gigs almost every weekend, she has become a well known international Blues & Fusion Dance instructor, performer & DJ. (Photo:


Ready to Apply?

Read the Frequently Asked Questions below, write U.A. director Blake Boles with any questions (, and then click the big Apply button. You’re on your way!

Apply Now

Frequently Asked Questions

What extra costs are there? Do I need special gear?
There are no extra costs on this program, although we do recommend bringing a little spending money for snacks. As far as gear goes, you won't need much to enjoy Dance Recess: a sleeping bag, some good clothing layers (appropriate for both warm days and cold nights), a pair of hiking shoes, a pair of smooth-bottom dance shoes (although many people dance in socks at Recess events). We will provide a full packing list, and we will encourage everyone to pack minimally due to limited space in the minivans.
What will the food and lodging be like?

Recess will be providing three meals a day for us throughout the whole program. They can accommodate vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diets. Meat eaters can pay $20 extra to receive meat portions during the Aspen Recess. Please note that during the Aspen Recess, one of the meals is late at night (brunch + dinner + late night meal). We recommend that you bring a small stash of snacks to hold you over between meals.

Lodging will be in bunk beds at the High Desert Center (in Paonia) and at the Aspen Recess. Pillows will be provided at the High Desert Center but not at Aspen Recess. For one night of the program we will camp out and sleep on improvised ground pads—it will be fun and rustic!

How can I stay in touch with my family and friends at home?
Cell phone service and wifi will be available in Paonia (although Verizon is weak). You may have little or no cell service and wifi during our time in the mountains and at the Aspen Recess.
Is this dance event appropriate for teenage participants?

Recess is a dance community that shares many values with the unschooling community: consent culture, open communication, embracement of LGBTQ and non-conforming genders, and liberal ideals.

Recess events are open to the public, populated largely by twenty- to thirty-somethings. They're sort of like multi-day music festivals. Each event is a combination of previous attendees (who transmit the culture and hold its boundaries) and new attendees (who must learn the culture and may push its boundaries).

This is a chance for participants to safely engage in an incredibly fun and powerful social event with the support and oversight of Unschool Adventures staff. Participants will also have the support of the Recess organizers, having spent three days with them beforehand. Furthermore, the Recess organizers will make a special announcement at the event sharing our group's presence and purpose, so that we are known to all.

Participants who join this program must be ready to take personal responsibility for themselves at a high-energy dance festival, interacting with hundreds of attendees from the public. Unschool Adventures and Recess staff will be available to help deal with any issues that arise, but fundamentally the participants must be responsible for themselves (and for each other) to ensure that everyone has a fun and safe time.

Explore the Recess website to learn more about their events and decide whether this program is a good fit for you.