> Message: 2
> Date: Sun, 30 Jan 2011 09:52:08 -0800
> From: Greg McKenzie <grekenzie(a)gmail.com>
> To: Caller's discussion list <callers(a)sharedweight.net>
> Subject: Re: [Callers] Calling medleys for the first time
> Message-ID: <4d45a548.1f48960a.0b45.ffffd026(a)mx.google.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"; format=flowed
> Bob Green wrote:
>> In some communities, a different approach is taken - to help avoid
>> breakdowns while switching dances on the fly, trying to see that less
>> experienced/skilled dancers have a partner the can give them a little help
>> along on the way. I favor this approach as I believe it tends to make the
>> overall dance experience better.
> I would be very interested in any techniques or strategies you, as
> the caller, would use to achieve this behavior: "...trying to see
> that less experienced/skilled dancers have a partner the can give
> them a little help along on the way." I am particularly interested
> in what callers do to encourage more generous partnering behaviors in
> a medley. How do you achieve that "We're all in this together,"
> sentiment that Larry Jennings speaks of?
> - Greg
I think it is a good idea for callers to add little bits of dance culture instruction during their teaching and remarks. Many people start coming to Contra Dances without knowing the culture and it isn't always easy to "get". New dancers are sometime shy and don't want to ask experienced dancers to be partners; of course some experienced dancers are snobs but I think most want to make the evening fun for everyone - reminders about changing/selecting partners can help. I like dancing with inexperienced dancers and I think it helps make me a better dancer because I have to be more aware of everyone and learn how to help in a constructive fashion with hand gestures instead of too many words that can't be heard.
Here's an example of something that organizers can do: at the BIDA dance in Cambridge (http://bidadance.org/index.html) they have some very nice posters hung around the wall that talk about having fun, changing partners, etc. They have been working hard on being inclusive on getting new dancers - they have a beginners workshop before each dance. The I in BIDA stands for Intergenerational, the A for Advocates.