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attracting new/young folks

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    SMiskoe Sept. 16, 2001, 11:22 p.m. (Message 27390)

    We have had much lately about getting new folks and young folks to come 
    dancing.  This weekend I played for a dance in a situation where about 1/4 
    folks had little or no experience but got a ticket for the dance to do 
    something for the evening.  I noticed a number of things.
    The MC was trying to get 4 couple sets organized.  In the contra world people 
    would be encouraged to join hands in a ring of 8.  And then be told this is 
    the set and these are the folks you dance with.  It took a while to organize 
    the sets.
    Several young people asked about doing round the room dances and Dashing 
    White Sergeant.  As a gesture to them Strip the willow was done but not til 
    after intermission.
    A philosophical decision had to be made, does the dance organizer 
    re-structure the program so that all the people can get up and dance at least 
    every other dance, and perhaps irritate the expeienced folks, but perhaps 
    entice beginners to go dancing again.
    Or does the dance organizer continue with the published program, do 2 or 3 
    easy dances and please the experienced dancers.
    While I don't know the correct answer I feel that an opportunity to attract 
    newcomers was lost.  
    Sylvia Miskoe, Concord, NH USA
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    Dianna Shipman Sept. 17, 2001, 1:35 a.m. (Message 27391, in reply to message 27390)

    I think it depends on how an event is advertised - if prior experience is
    needed that should be made clear at the time tickets or sold or even stated
    on the tickets - if you say it's open to everyone then you need to be
    prepared to rearrange the program.  If I do a program I often have in mind a
    possible alternate easy dance for every harder dance on the program; I find
    that brand new people after one or two dances usually are glad to rest a bit
    while experienced dancers do a more difficult dance.  And I have remind our
    experienced dancers if they want to have anyone to dance with 10 years from
    now they need to be patient with new people since natural attrition tends to
    reduce numbers :-)
    Houston, Texas
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    Martin.Sheffield Sept. 17, 2001, 10:17 a.m. (Message 27392, in reply to message 27390)

    Sylvia wrote:
    > This weekend I played for a dance in a situation where about 1/4 
    >folks had little or no experience but got a ticket for the dance to do 
    >something for the evening. 
    I would have thought that a dance open to the general public could only
    have a program of  easy-to-join-in ceilidh type dances.
    The uninitiated cannot possibly enjoy our usual country dances.
    Whenever I have MC'd a public evetn of that kind, I have kept thigs very
    basic, and it has always worked. The regulars who turn up don't mind doing
    easy dances because the atmosphere is quite different from weekly classes,
    it's still an enjoyable night out. If the regulars are in the majoprity, I
    annonce a few dances (but very few) reserved for those that know. This
    gives my people the chance to do a dance the like, and gives the public a
    glimpse of the real thing.
    >Several young people asked about doing round the room dances and Dashing 
    >White Sergeant. 
    Which seem to be the best choice in this situation.
     >As a gesture to them Strip the willow was done 
    That would not have been my choice -- did anyone enjoy doing it?
    >While I don't know the correct answer I feel that an opportunity to attract 
    >newcomers was lost.  
     in Grenoble, France.

                  (dance groups,  events,  some new dances ...)
  • ...

    Andrew Smith Sept. 17, 2001, 8:50 a.m. (Message 27393, in reply to message 27390)

    We in Bristol, UK, organise a dance under the caption "Newcomers' Dance"
    once a year in the early spring. This gives people who have just started
    dancing in the autumn a chance to experience a fairly simple evening, and as
    every dance is talked/walked through we do get children, young people, and a
    few normally non-dancing partners along, and in fact, and there is a lesson
    here if only we would learn it, it is our best attended dance.
    We have also, this year for the first time, introduced a reduced rate for
    tickets for young persons and students.
    I am convinced that there is a strong element in SCD that is guilty of
    intellectual snobbery as far as dance simplicity vs. complexity is concerned
    and it will lead to the demise of SCD as a popular activity if we are not
    careful. We are in danger of losing the simple social pleasure, and IMHO we
    will fail to attract new and (more essentially) younger dancers if we are do
    not more consistently supply a simple but lively programme.
    For me a "good" dancer is not one who can execute a very large number of
    complicated figures to perfection, but one who can move easily to the music,
    with neat footwork and above all an enjoyment in so doing which is
    communicated to the others dancing in the set through example, body language
    etc and by helping and encouraging those less advanced in these skills. I
    know one or two technically very accomplished dancers whom I have seen
    sailing on through chaos, executing the dance irrespective of the fact that
    the rest of the set has virtually lost the plot. This is far from
  • ... Sept. 17, 2001, 6:31 p.m. (Message 27395, in reply to message 27390)

    New Scotland (Edinburgh Uni) tend to have that problem, and last year
    was worse than usual in that we kept getting large groups of beginers
    all the way through the year.  A group of us got together and put
    together a list of dances which were then graded for their difficulty
    and also for how often they had been done.  This gave us a list of
    dances that were not known to the majority of our members, but were
    within the realms of dancability for new dancers.  I think it did
    work, as we were able to keep more of our beginers than usual, and
    most of the "old faithful brigade" kept coming too.
  • ...

    Marilynn Knight Sept. 17, 2001, 7:41 p.m. (Message 27396, in reply to message 27390)

    Oooh, Seonaid, that list... I'd love to see it.
  • ...

    John McCain Sept. 17, 2001, 7:48 p.m. (Message 27397, in reply to message 27390)

    What a *GREAT* idea! Would you consider sharing the list
    with us?
    Best, John
  • ... Sept. 18, 2001, 11:05 p.m. (Message 27432, in reply to message 27390)

    Once the disk is returned from whoever has it, I'll certainly post the
    list (or stick it on a website if it's too big).
    Marilyn wrote: (and others echoed the sentiments)

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