Dance Recess 2017

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The Story of Dance Recess

Something we’ve known for years is: unschoolers love to dance.

Specifically, unschoolers seem drawn toward partner dance: where one person leads and another follows. (Think: swing, blues, and tango.) The connection, spontaneity, and sense of play meshes well with unschooling.

We dreamed for many years about offering a partner dance program, but only recently did we discover Recess Productions: a group of dancers in their twenties and thirties who travel around the U.S. in a retrofitted yellow school bus, hosting multi-day dance festivals in beautiful outdoor locations.

We reached out to Justin Riley, the founder of Recess, to express interest in partnering to offer a teen program. To our delight, Justin and his team were even more excited than we were to create a special program just for young people—something they wish they could have experienced as a teenager to introduce them to dance.

Thus was born Dance Recess 2017: a fun and intensive week of dance in the mountains of Colorado. We’re excited to offer the Unschool Adventures community this rare opportunity combining private dance instruction (from world-class instructors) with a magical multi-day festival in the mountains. Won’t you join us?


July 30 – Aug 7, 2017




8-12 participants (ages 15-20, flexible)


Blake Boles, Dev Carey, Milla von Tauber, and Lainey Bein




Applications closed.

This trip is full with 10 participants.

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.

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.

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.

Young people who can take care of themselves at a large, high-energy dance festival. The Aspen Recess festival 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. Watch the following video to get a feeling for the Recess community.


Sunday July 30th: Arrival

The experience begins at Denver International Airport, where our group gathers in the afternoon. (Yes, you can join this program no matter where you live! You just need to get yourself to Denver via plane, train, or automobile.) We’ll travel together in a small fleet of minivans to Paonia (in far western Colorado) and 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!

July 31st – Aug 1st: Lessons and Practice in Paonia

For two days in Paonia our group will receive private instruction from our world-class instructors, Justin and Flouer (meet them below). There will be a morning and afternoon lesson, each an hour and a half.  After the lessons there will be free time on the High Desert Center property for more dance practice, meandering conversations, and short hikes. Unschool Adventures trip leaders will participate in all dance lessons and provide support and one-on-one practice opportunities for each participant.

Aug 2nd: High Mountain Camp-out

Today we migrate into the mountains above Paonia (most likely McClure Pass), 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 a big outdoor sleepover.

Aug 3rd – Aug 7thAspen Recess

The next morning we pack up and drive back across Colorado to the mountains near Boulder, where we’ll help the Recess team set up for their 4-night dance festival, Aspen Recess, in which we’re fully participating. Each day of the event will include dance classes, social dancing, and free time for relaxing. Our group will stay in our own 20-bunk cabin, and we will actively volunteer in the cooking and setup of the event.

Monday Aug 7th: In the morning we’ll pack up, clean up, and drive back to Denver airport, where you will fly home in the afternoon (unless you’re getting picked up locally).

Meet Your Instructors

Justin Riley

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.

Flouer Evelyn

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.

What is Fusion?

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

Browse this Spotify playlist of fusion music to get an idea of the type of music you might find at Recess, and watch the video below of Justin Riley dancing fusion (as a follow) with his friend Emiliano in Paris:

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the program fee include, and what is extra?

The program fee includes all meals, dance instruction, group activities, and ground transportation. You do need to get yourself to our meeting spot, Denver Airport. There are no other extra costs on this program, although we do recommend bringing a little spending money for snacks. As far as gear goes, you’ll need a sleeping bag, some good clothing layers (appropriate for both warm days and cold nights), a pair of hiking shoes, and an optional 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 the Recess dance festival 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.


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