[Callers] Callers Digest, Vol 53, Issue 6

Chip Hedler CHedler at rumney.org
Sat Jan 17 17:28:01 PST 2009

In answer to Sue Robishaw <sue at manytracks.com> on the subject of "Young Children at Dance" 

Hi, Sue!

I do tons of family dances and get to work with lots of families with kids of all ages, from pre-ambulatory (not a problem!) on up. My general approach at the beginning of the evening is to recommend that kids who are too young to ride a bike dance as cling-ons (hanging onto a parent or other willing friend of the family), rather than as someone's partner. I then recommend that young kids who can ride bikes but have never danced before should be partners with an adult. I strongly recommend that young kids not partner each other unless they have some experience or the dance is specifically intended for kids.

Recommendations to dancers notwithstanding, I might still end up with a knot of really young kids intending to dance together. Then it's up to me to adjust--select a dance I know will work, such as a stripped-down variant of the Virgina Reel or a really, really easy contra; ask the kids to come up to the front of the line and have adult couples between the kid couples; come down on the floor and use the kids to demo moves for the walkthrough--whatever it takes.

If I judge that a contra will work, my favorite never-fail dance for first-timers with lots of kids is Ellen's Green Jig (it's in "Zesty Contras" among other places).

Chip Hedler
chiph at rumney.org
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