[Callers] Glen Echo FND beginner lesson plan

Richard Hart richhart49 at gmail.com
Tue Aug 13 22:49:11 PDT 2013

On Tue, Aug 13, 2013 at 11:43 PM, Greg McKenzie <grekenzie at gmail.com> wrote:

> Mac wrote:
> > At our dances in St Louis, new dancers are almost always paired with
> > experienced dancers for much of the first part of the evening (not ones
> who
> > have just attended once or twice - but dancers skilled in dancing with
> new
> > dancers).  There are exceptions - but our dancers work hard to make this
> > happen.
> >
> Very cool.  You certainly have a wonderful dance community.  I would be
> very interested in what you think your area callers and dance organizers
> are doing that encourages, allows, or enables this to happen.  Can you
> point to one or two factors

> ......
> I would love to hear other ideas about how callers and organizers can
> encourage and foster a "wonderful dance community."
> - Greg McKenzie
> West Coast, USA

Here in New Hampshire we use a number of things to increase attendance and
to support dancers in various ways.

First, we all recognize that the future of our dances is in the hands of
younger dancer - teens and 20-somethings. Our efforts are mostly aimed at
them, because when they attend a dance, everyone else seems to follow. Here
are some of the things we do to encourage younger dances, and the community
in general.

1. At most dances, there is a student or youth discount in the price.

2. The Monadnock Folklore Society, which sponsors a number of local dances,
also sponsors a scholarship for teens, up to the age of 18. It can be used
to take lessons in traditional music, or to attend festivals to work on
fiddle, piano, or other skills.

3. Some dances have a car pool discount, where the driver of cars bringing
3 or more young people gets in for free.

4. We don't avoid older dances, but instead allow a little evolution and
change. For example, at the Nelson dance, Chorus Jig is always accompanied
by both clapping, and singing.  (And, in fact, this fall, we are planning
for a Ralph Page impersonator to come to the Nelson dance to recreate a
1941 dance, for which we have some old photos. Enthusiastic dancers are
even now buying and creating appropriate dresses and dark pants with
suspenders and jackets, etc so we will look just like the folks in the

5. We invite younger callers and musicians to the stage.  A stage filled
with teens and young musicians playing the tunes is not uncommon.

6. When people, both young or older, do something special, we recognize
them from the stage. For example, when someone brings a lot friends to the
dance, or if they bring cookies, or help in some other way.

7. Before a dance that may be a little more difficult, we may ask that
newcomers find an experienced dancer to dance with (or vice-versa).

8. When a lot of newcomers show up, at whatever hour, we may recognize
them, both to help them fell more welcomed, and to let the regulars know
there are some new people out there who may need some help.

9. Some dances give newcomers a "get in free" ticket for a future dance, to
help them come back again.

10. As a caller, I sometime will speak with a new or recent dancer, and ask
them what their favorite dance or move is. Then, I'll try to call that
dance or move later than night, if I can.

11. Finally, our goal is to dance, not to lecture or teach, so I, and most
other callers here, try to select dances that can be danced with just a
single walk-through.

12. If there is an introductory session before the actual dance, I focus on
things such as giving weigh, following the beat of the music, and
progression. The calls can be introduced successively, as they are
introduced with each dance. There a lot of fun dances that only use a few
calls, such as circle, allemande, do-si-do, lady's chain, and promenade.

And, I'm sure I've missed other things that we do to attract and keep new

Rich Hart.

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