[Callers] Recruiting new dancers

Linda Leslie laleslierjg at comcast.net
Thu Sep 22 21:59:49 PDT 2011

CDSS has a pdf at their website of the article written by Brian  
Gallagher and Julia Nickles. The article is a summary of a workshop  
that these two dancers presented two different years at the New  
England Folk Festival. Julia is the creator of the "Ants? Pants?  
Contra Dance!" poster. The link to the article follows.
Linda Leslie

On Sep 21, 2011, at 10:34 PM, Richard Hart wrote:

> Greg's reverse psychology idea was used at Brown a few years ago,  
> with those "ants - pants - contra dance" flyers that have been  
> copied many times now.  The flyers simply said "ants - pants -  
> contra dance"  with line drawings of the first two, followed by the  
> details of time, location, clean shoes, and a price. (Might have  
> been free for students). No details, so you had to go to find out  
> what it was all about. And it was posted everywhere so no one could  
> miss it. That was one case where a flyer seemed to have worked well.  
> Perhaps people involved in that effort are on this list now, and  
> they might be able to provide a more complete (and correct!)  
> description of what happened.
> Laur remarked on 9/22/2011 12:54 AM:
>> So what's the best way or ways to recruit younger dancers.  We have  
>> a college community, or more than one, here.  I have tried to think  
>> how to attract them but it all seems lame.  The best I can come up  
>> with is a flash dance on common ground.  The colleges aren't geared  
>> to our types of music or dance so it's hard to approach it from  
>> that aspect.
>> Ideas???
>>  ~
>> When I dance, I cannot judge, I cannot hate, I cannot separate  
>> myself from life. I can only be joyful and whole, that is why I  
>> dance.  ~Hans Bos~
>> ~
>>> ________________________________
>>> From: Greg McKenzie<grekenzie at gmail.com>
>>> To: Caller's discussion list<callers at sharedweight.net>
>>> Sent: Thursday, September 22, 2011 12:41 AM
>>> Subject: Re: [Callers] Recruiting new dancers
>>> Thank You Richard for this topic.
>>> You did a great job of describing the situation.  Word of mouth is  
>>> key.  All
>>> of the other methods of "getting the word out" are ancillary at  
>>> best and
>>> should be regarded as serving to support the word of mouth  
>>> effort.  Flyers,
>>> for example, are there to remind folks of what they heard from  
>>> someone else
>>> and substantiate the reference they have heard.  This is one  
>>> reason I think
>>> flyers should be limited to only the vital information needed to
>>> participate.  Flyers work better when they do *not *attempt to  
>>> persuade
>>> anyone or tell them *why *they should attend.  In a similar vein  
>>> flyers
>>> should also not attempt to describe or define the dance.  Assume  
>>> that the
>>> reader has already heard about the dance from a friend or an  
>>> acquaintance.
>>> Using some reverse psychology is important.  If the reader thinks  
>>> the flyer
>>> is "begging" for new participants it can be a turn off.  In this  
>>> respect
>>> small dances might consider setting an exclusive tone in the sense  
>>> that it
>>> is a "best kept secret" rather than a poorly attended dance.  I  
>>> have seen
>>> this work for small dances in our area.  When dancers "discover" a  
>>> small
>>> dance and view it as a private secret other dancers become very  
>>> interested.
>>> Some dancers will keep the secret for fear that lots of new people  
>>> will
>>> destroy the "charm" of the small dance.  This also works for  
>>> newcomers.
>>> You are absolutely correct about the role of young people.  Here  
>>> in Santa
>>> Cruz, CA the area dance society has welcomed young people to  
>>> become key
>>> players in the dance community.  Several are on the Board of  
>>> Directors,
>>> several are musicians at dances, and at least one is a caller.
>>> I don't, by the way, view this process as one of "recruiting" new  
>>> dancers.
>>> I view it as a way of opening the dance events to the wider  
>>> community.  That
>>> is a different perspective.  If we view the dance as a community  
>>> social
>>> event the goal shifts from one of attempting to convert newcomers  
>>> into dance
>>> enthusiasts to one of simply opening the dance to a more diverse and
>>> interesting community of participants.  An effort to "convert"  
>>> people or
>>> "get them hooked" requires too much energy and is not consistent  
>>> with the
>>> explicit message that "all are welcome" and "no experience is  
>>> needed."
>>> - Greg McKenzie
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