[Callers] Difficult dancers - Decision to ask not to return

Cara Sawyer via Callers callers at lists.sharedweight.net
Wed Mar 8 20:04:46 PST 2017

I wonder if anyone has considered assigning some more hindered dancers a
role that is not dancing? Could even make up roles for them. They could
help make sure sound is ok. Could help refill water. Could make sure
people's stuff isn't left. Other roles? Helping to set up. It wouldn't have
to be a real job, just something where they could feel welcomed and useful.
I think it's sad for someone to hear they are not welcome, and if they
could be 'reassigned,' something like "We feel you may create hazardous
circumstances on the dance floor both for you and for others, and in
addition we really need________ role filled. Could we recruit you?"

I did this in the after-school orchestra I used to lead, and though the
scenario is different it may still prove somewhat relevant. The orchestra's
goal was to get kids off the street, so turning them away could mean that
they ended up somewhere much less safe than with a violin. There were some
kids who just didn't fit in the box. One I recall was significantly
younger, and one was particularly advanced. One was really hyper-active and
sitting for an entire 1.5 hours was not a posability. I used their
abilities differently than I did the other kids, and they not only took
their roles very seriously, but added to the quality of the experience for
the other kids. It also provided a way for the other kids to see how being
out of the box could actually help them out.

That gives them an out and does not ostracize.

Just a thought maybe someone could use.

On Wed, Mar 8, 2017 at 4:49 PM, Rich Sbardella via Callers <
callers at lists.sharedweight.net> wrote:

> I want to be clear that when I suggest other dance venues, I have never
> suggested that dancers stop attending a series.  My suggestion of other
> (additional) venues is so that the dancer finds a user friendly place to
> hone his/her skills.
> Like Don, I believe that our communities should be inclusive.
> Sorry for any misunderstanding.
> Rich
> Stafford, CT
> On Wed, Mar 8, 2017 at 5:34 PM, Don Veino via Callers <
> callers at lists.sharedweight.net> wrote:
>> On Wed, Mar 8, 2017 at 1:26 PM, Mark Hillegonds via Callers <
>> callers at lists.sharedweight.net> wrote:
>>> Would you ever (or have you ever) asked someone not to return based on
>>> their inability to dance?
>> No. If we want to consider ourselves open and welcoming then, IMO, I
>> believe we need to model that. There are venues that have a different
>> mission and objective (the limited set of "experienced" dances) where this
>> might be appropriate but for a general dance I'm uncomfortable with the
>> idea of sending someone away because they struggle to perform as others
>> might expect.
>> In the dance series I help run we have several folks with challenges whom
>> dance with us regularly. These include blindness, some memory impairment,
>> perceptual/developmental issues, physical impairment and just plain slowing
>> down. They are all welcome, even though that may cause others to have to
>> adjust - and that's just what we do. Callers adjust their material and
>> timing/calls. Dancers find ways collaboratively to surpass the challenges
>> presented.
>> We strive to keep the hall well mixed, or the dancers will naturally
>> segment themselves such that the difficulties multiply rather than get
>> mitigated. A lot of that has to do with material selection - fidgety
>> fast-action dances will not encourage the mixing. Well constructed dances
>> with great flow (and some space for flourishes/recovery) will. We also have
>> generous experienced dancers who help in partnering.
>> Is it easy to continue this way? Maybe not. It may cost us attendance.
>> There are times I (and others) get frustrated. But then I take a deep
>> breath and move on from the temporary issue knowing the bigger goal. I feel
>> you need to set a view of what you want the culture of your series to be
>> and act in accord. My dance strives to be a real community where we dance
>> and engage *with* people and not just dance *next* to them.
>> Of course there's a difference between lesser capability and
>> inappropriate behavior. We don't tolerate the latter but fortunately we've
>> had few issues in that regard.
>> -Don
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Cara V. Sawyer
M.M. French Horn
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