The following article "On Respectful Communications with Stage Talent" was
just published in the Santa Barbara Country Dance Society, Dance Star, Spring 2006
quarterly newsletter. It is well written by Suzanne Duffy and Jeff Spero of Los Angeles,
and contains some useful guidelines applicable to most dance communities. Some may wish
to print it and make it available at dances.
The pdf version is available for download at:
Santa Barbara Country Dance Society
Issue Number 67, Spring 2006 News, Articles & Calendar of Events
On Respectful Communications with Stage Talent
Over the many years of dancing, calling, and playing music at contra dances,
we have noticed a dominant thread about our fellow dancers they can be quite
opinionated about their callers, musicians and sound engineers. We appreciate the
passion; however, in recent months there have been incidents in the way these
opinions have been expressed in Santa Barbara that have been unhelpful, even
hurtful and for some, decrease our desire to take the Carrillo Ballroom stage. So we
offer four guidelines that will aid in communicating with onstage talent:
Please hold your comments to the caller or musicians to the break or the end
of the evening. The talent is concentrating hard during the dance to provide the best
experience for the dancers. Comments while the dance is in progress are a major
distraction and almost always degrade the quality of the calling, music or both.
Keep in mind that it is impossible to always please everyone. While we are
very happy to listen your point of view, please consider that we often get very
contradicting suggestions from different dancers. For example, one dancer may
believe the band is playing too fast while another may think the band is playing
too slow (and the caller may think we are playing juuuussst right!).
If you have difficulty hearing the caller, or the volume is uncomfortable to
you, please dont tell the band. They cant do anything about it. Kindly let the sound
engineer (or the caller when he/she is not calling/teaching) know your observations.
Remember that while the callers, musicians and sound engineers try our
hardest to make the dance special, for the most part we are not professionals.
Just like you, this is what we do for fun. We show up early, leave late, and set up
lots of equipment. And though we do get paid, the amount we get barely
compensates us for our time and expenses. Our real compensation is the
appreciation we get from the dancers (so dont be afraid to whoop and holler
we love it!). And we are trying to reach for the stars to create a fresh, exciting
experience for the dancers. Occasionally, what we try might not work. But often it
does work, and when it does the dance benefits accordingly (more whooping and hollering!).
The success of a dance, most would agree, is the effective interaction between
the caller, musicians, and the dancers themselves. (Certainly others also play
key roles sound engineer, volunteers, dance producers
but the core is these
three elements.) This is not a performance the talent provides for the dancers,
rather a cooperative effort to provide an exhilarating experience for everyone.
The dancers feed off the energy of the caller and musicians, and that energy then
gets sent back to the caller and musicians who feed off the dancers. The more the
talent feels the respect and appreciation of the dancers, the more they will give
back in return. And thats what we are all after, isnt it?
Suzanne Duffy, Jeffrey Spero
Los Angeles, California