strathspey Archive: Age

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Age

Message 1534 · Anne R. Leslie · 31 Mar 1995 08:21:44 · Top

To: CCartwright and Sandra Knowles
Our SCD group has discussed the technique vs. enjoyment and
not-getting-lost aspects of why people try Scottish country dancing and
then leave. We feel that you need to keep the social side in mind,
always--there are some who will never get the technique, and some you
always have to guide through some dances, but we can still enjoy the
sport. At the Delaware Valley Ball, we were discussing how to attract
young people, and one of the ladies said, use the technique her mother
used to build Sunday school classes--make sure there is always FOOD! We
have a demo group that performs a lot for nursing homes--great charity,
but no recruitment there! We have resolved to try recruiting at the
colleges, as we have plenty in the DC area, not far from our dance site.
I only wish they had had SCD when I attended the Univ. of Arizona (student
population then, 6000!)

Anne Leslie
6024 Telegraph Rd
Alexandria, VA 22310

703-960-0095

Age

Message 1535 · Courtney Cartwright · 31 Mar 1995 11:30:06 · Top

I've been thinking about my message regarding why SCD seems to attract
people who are not interested in other forms of dancing. From the
discussions about footwork and teaching pas de basque, I have concluded that
the reason we do have so many of these people in our class is precisely due
to the social aspects of country dance. We see people who may only do one
or two dances in an evening, but they are out enjoying themselves, watching
the other dancers, listening to the band, etc.

I have always felt that historically speaking, Scottish Country Dance,
English Country Dance, even French Contredanses and German and Scandinavian
set dances all evolved not so much for the sole enjoyment of the dancers,
but because of limited space in public venus, not everyone could dance at
the same time, and the figures were more entertaining to watch than a bunch
of folks out on the floor doing their own thing. This being the case, we
want to maintain the beauty of the dance.

But also, I agree that good technique should not stand out. I believe the
RSCDS manual or "Won't You Join the Dance" mentions that the dance is the
thing, it is a unit, and it should not suffer in other areas simply for
flawless technique. Teamwork, handing, phrasing, footwork, posture - all
are very important - but without sociability, and need I add, a sense of
fun, WHY CONTINUE AT ALL?

I was appalled by the message sent by Ms Hemenway, but I have to admit, the
same thing has happened on occassion here. People are so quick to chastise,
reprimand and cast blame, it's a bit difficult to be everywhere and to be
able to step in and prevent such interactions. To my mind, the people she
danced with were not in the least acquainted with proper etiquette, and I'm
glad she persevered.
----------------------------------------------------------------
Courtney Cartwright "To live is to dance..."
Tucson, Arizona Snoopy
ccartwri@interserv.com
----------------------------------------------------------------

Age

Message 1605 · Richard L Walker · 5 Apr 1995 08:22:29 · Top

Anne Leslie commented (in part):
>Our SCD group has discussed the technique vs. enjoyment
and
>not-getting-lost aspects of why people try Scottish
country dancing and
>then leave.
My small group (who is pleased to get a group of six
together ... and thrilled to get a
set of eight together ... for a class) is certainly
looking for ways to get new dancers. We have made
many-many mistakes in the past that scared off new dancers
.. usually asking them to participate in dances they
weren't ready for -- the first or second night they attend
class. I recently thought of another point that might be
worth considering.
When new dancers attend a class to see what Scottish
Country dancing is all about, they
get a snapshot view of a few sets practicing some footwork
and learning a few new dances. The group may be dancing a
local favorite dance -- but it will most surely be a new
dance to the new dancers. They struggle week after week,
see nothing but the same week after week, and
encouragement by other dancers probably loses its value.
The point is that the new dancers are not getting a real
vision of what is the big payoff of dancing. It is nice
to get the exercise and enjoy the company of your group --
and even learn the new dances and practice the formations
-- but the payoff (to me) is finally getting to the big
dances with live music with folks attending from miles
(hundreds of miles?) around. Some of the dancers in my
own group have never been to a big dance. I plan to
experiment with a "starter kit" that includes a video tape
of a large ball with all the trimmings so new dancers can
see right away what is driving most of the -- I almost
said "old timers." :-)
Maybe it will help peek their interest. It will be
difficult to determine if it really helps, but I think the
idea is worth trying. Step two will be getting the new
dancers to target a couple dances and to prepare them to
enjoy it. I do think the vision is a good prerequisite
that has historically "always" been missing here. What do
other small groups in isolated areas think? (I think the
problem would almost be nonexistent in large hotbeds of
dancing -- which shall go unnamed -- you lucky devils ..
or de'ils.)

Age

Message 1610 · Todd W. McCall · 5 Apr 1995 17:01:07 · Top

On Tue, 4 Apr 1995 23:21:25 -0500,
Richard L. Walker <rlwalker@amaranth.com> wrote:

>Anne Leslie commented (in part):
>>Our SCD group has discussed the technique vs. enjoyment
>and
>>not-getting-lost aspects of why people try Scottish
>country dancing and
>>then leave.
>My small group (who is pleased to get a group of six
>together ... and thrilled to get a
>set of eight together ... for a class) is certainly
>looking for ways to get new dancers. We have made
>many-many mistakes in the past that scared off new dancers
>.. usually asking them to participate in dances they
>weren't ready for -- the first or second night they attend
>class. I recently thought of another point that might be
>worth considering.
>When new dancers attend a class to see what Scottish
>Country dancing is all about, they
>get a snapshot view of a few sets practicing some footwork
>and learning a few new dances. The group may be dancing a
>local favorite dance -- but it will most surely be a new
>dance to the new dancers. They struggle week after week,
>see nothing but the same week after week, and
>encouragement by other dancers probably loses its value.
>The point is that the new dancers are not getting a real
>vision of what is the big payoff of dancing. It is nice
>to get the exercise and enjoy the company of your group --
>and even learn the new dances and practice the formations
>-- but the payoff (to me) is finally getting to the big
>dances with live music with folks attending from miles
>(hundreds of miles?) around. Some of the dancers in my
>own group have never been to a big dance. I plan to
>experiment with a "starter kit" that includes a video tape
>of a large ball with all the trimmings so new dancers can
>see right away what is driving most of the -- I almost
>said "old timers." :-)
>Maybe it will help peek their interest. It will be
>difficult to determine if it really helps, but I think the
>idea is worth trying. Step two will be getting the new
>dancers to target a couple dances and to prepare them to
>enjoy it. I do think the vision is a good prerequisite
>that has historically "always" been missing here. What do
>other small groups in isolated areas think? (I think the
>problem would almost be nonexistent in large hotbeds of
>dancing -- which shall go unnamed -- you lucky devils ..
>or de'ils.)
>
>
>
>--
>Richard L. Walker <rlwalker@amaranth.com>
>
>
>
My experience with small groups (Scottish and other types) is that the
social aspect is as important as anything else. Would you be friends with
these people if they weren't dancing? I found that when I quit dancing in
a couple of my groups, we stopped all contact with one another -- we had
nothing in common beyond the dancing. Naturally, we can't ORDER people to
be friends in a group -- but it is an important aspect. There is no easy
answer to this question, but understanding this can help adjust attitudes
-- and sometimes a change of focus works wonders!

Age

Message 1648 · ccartwri · 9 Apr 1995 07:44:14 · Top

Now that I'm caught up with all the messages, I seem determined to add to
them...

Age is a concern with just about every group I know - both in the SCD
and the Folk Dance Worlds.

I can tell you thatwhen I started dancing here in Tucson 13 years ago, the
mix was about 80% college sudents to other aged folks in SCD. The ratio was
about 50% under 40 to over 40 in the foldance group. The college students
moved away en masse and we never really replaced them in the SCD group - our
members are now mostly in their late 40's to mid 60's. We do ocassionally
have pockets of interest from the University community, and I would advise
anyone to start recruiting there - at the local college or University by
offering classes on or near campus - we're one block off the UofA campus.

I must often remind a number of our dancers (privately, of course) that in
trying to interest younger dancers, it's difficult to demand that they wear
"suitable attire". Most of the college students - men and women - dance in
T-Shirts and shorts. I don't have any problem with this, though it is nice
to see men in kilts and ladies in dresses, I feel if you're making an effort
to interest and keep this demographic, it's important that they feel at
least comfortable. I sometimes teach in a polo shirt and shorts, especially
if I'm expecting a number of these students. Probably not the best RSCDS
style - but you never heard it from me...

I also have to remind people that the retention rate of new dancers over
perhaps a two year period is not too encouraging as a rule. I'm very pleased
to get a retention rate of perhaps 15% to 20%. Let's face it,
Scottish Country Dance is not everybody's idea of a good time. Many people
are discouraged to find that there isn't instant gratification from SCD.
Some people just don't want to devote a year (2 years? 5 years?) to learning
the intricacies of Scottish Country Dance.

Young blood in a group does have a way of livening things up, and with the
right mix, it's a wonderful feeling. The older members dote on the younger
ones and the younger members truly seem to enjoy and respect the time they
spend with the senior members. Just remember that students and young adults
often graduate and get transferred to new jobs... You have to be ready to
replace the outgoing batch with the new crowd - unfortunately, we're just
about to say goodbye to a number of wonderful students, including the
Pipe Major of our Pipes and Drums section and most of our Highland
dancers... Sigh.

Hope this is helpful and not too boring.
----------------------------------------------------------------
Courtney Cartwright "To live is to dance..."
Tucson, Arizona Snoopy
ccartwri@interserv.com
----------------------------------------------------------------

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