I'm forwarding the following note about an initiative being discussed at the
yahoo group called "danceambassadors." It's a model for encouraging and
retaining new dancers by finding out what they like (and don't like) about
their first experiences at a contra dance.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: John Coffman <johndcoffman(a)yahoo.com>
Date: Tue, Feb 19, 2008 at 9:32 PM
Subject: Fwd: Fw: [danceambassadors] Dance Attendance Project
To: Jill Allen <jallen3(a)sunflower.com>om>, Jerome Grisanti <
Note: forwarded message attached.
Looking for last minute shopping deals? Find them fast with Yahoo!
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Jane Ewing" <contradance(a)charter.net>
To: "Dale & Susan" <shoer51(a)yahoo.com>om>, "John & Kathy
johndcoffman(a)yahoo.com>gt;, "Larry Teich" <Larry.Teich(a)dep.state.fl.us>us>,
Herndon" <busman71(a)catt.com>om>, "Barry Gibbons" <barry(a)afn.org>rg>,
Hopkins" <hopkinsrs(a)comcast.net>et>, "Stan & Linda Prince" <
sprince2(a)tampabay.rr.com>gt;, "Joey Norton" <jnor1(a)juno.com>om>, "Tom
Bocawoodworks(a)aol.com>gt;, "Alice Milmoe" <Contradans(a)aol.com>om>, "Rod
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2008 09:01:57 -0600
Subject: Fw: [danceambassadors] Dance Attendance Project
*Hi gang - You are getting this because I have either spoken to you face to
face about this idea, you have been in an email discussion about it or I
just think it might help your group out.*
*In Huntsville we use most of the ideas noted in the outline. We have
reworded the paper we give to newcomers to complete to suit us better. We
find it is helping.*
*If you are concerned about the overall health of your group I would like
you to consider taking this on.*
*As Ridge says - please feel free to contact him (or myself) with questions
----- Original Message ----- *From:* Ridge Kennedy <ridgek(a)j-appleseed.org>
*Sent:* Monday, February 18, 2008 7:54 AM
*Subject:* [danceambassadors] Dance Attendance Project
Dear Friends in the Dance Community,
This is an announcement about something which is, if not about a
breakthrough, then is at least a significant incremental step in the
effort to encourage/increase attendance at dance events.
Notice to Disinterested Parties
This is a fairly long message. If you are from the school of thought
that says people would either "get it" or they don't with regard to
participatory dance, if you think that efforts to understand the
needs, wants, and behaviors of newcomers to dance events are
irrelevant, or if you are not at all interested in the challenges of
organizing and encouraging attendance at dance events, please press
"delete" and ignore this message.
If you are still reading, here is what this message covers.
-- A brief statement about the genesis of this project – an effort to
communicate with newcomers at participatory dance events using online
-- A description of test that is being conducted
-- A description of the superficial results
-- Links to the survey form and to the results
-- A request for people any individuals/group that might be interested
in participating in the next stage of development for this project to
A "J. Appleseed" Principle
I am an advocate the idea of using technology to assist organizers --
to make their lives easier, and to try to help make their efforts more
For the last three or four months, Jane Ewing (a dance organizer and
dance caller from Huntsville, Alabama), and I have been prototyping
the use of web based survey software to solicit responses from
newcomers to dance events.
Here's the good news.
The process that we've worked out requires very little effort on the
part of dance organizers. There's no cost. And over our test., we
have found that dancers will participate by providing organizers with
e-mail addresses, and they will respond to the solicitations we send
to them via e-mail and complete the survey.
The information that we are sharing at this point is really in the
"beta" stage of development. The survey was developed very quickly
and the questions that we have asked are not as good as they should
be. There are surely some other, more salient questions that we could
ask and the structure of the survey can undoubtedly be improved. I am
hopeful that some of you out there in the dance world will join us now
in this effort and help us make this process work better.
For now, what we are finding is that a fairly substantial number of
newcomers will accept our invitation to participate in the survey and
then about 50 percent of the people who agreed to participate will
actually follow through and complete the survey.
Following is a link to the survey. You can click on this link and see
the survey that people are completing. This is a test copy of the
survey and if you want to, you can go ahead and put in some data and
seeing what the survey experience is like.
Now, here is a link to the results of the survey that we have been
conducting. The results can be "filtered" so that you can see
responses based on specific venues, the gender of participants, the
age range of participants, whether they are "experienced" dancers
attending a different dance for the first time or whether they are
"complete newcomers." Results can be viewed in summary form (all
results tabulated and ranked) or results can be viewed on a "survey by
One caveat about the results -- some survey results include e-mail
addresses. That was unintentional. At this point I can't remove them
from the results, but I did find where the setting was that included
them and they will not be included in future results. One of our
promises to participants is that we will not use their e-mail
addresses for anything other than the survey, unless they give us
Benefits to organizers -- "what's in it for me?"
First, there's the benefit of getting real information about concerns
that newcomers may have every dance. It's simply a way of getting
objective opinions from people who've never been there before about
the convenience, friendliness, sociability, -- whatever conditions you
want to ask about. In short, it's a way to find out if there are
problems, and it gives us an opportunity to address them.
Second -- from bigger perspective -- it gives us information about the
new dancer experience. Frankly, I was hoping to get responses from
people who were disappointed with the experience -- frustrated and
unhappy. Eventually, I'm sure that some responses like that will come
through, but in our testing so far. We have not received many
negative responses. Which leads to the third point.
Number three -- participation in the survey does provide reinforcement
about the idea of coming back. A review of which survey results shows
that a high proportion of people who have completed the survey have
said they are positively or at least likely to come back again.
Finally -- the survey process can integrate with the group's effort to
build attendance using an announcement e-mail list, and/or a "come
back for the next time free" pass that many groups are using these days.
As noted, this is really a test version of a process; it has lots of
flaws and has lots of room for improvement. I do believe, however,
that we have shown that this process does have potential for certain
groups well and can play a positive role in increasing dance attendance.
If you have any questions about all of this, I'd like to share them in
the context of an online discussion group that is focused on the
issues dance organizers face.
My goal is to find a few more organizers, who might be interested in
participating in this survey effort and help us take it into a
"production" mode. Additionally, we are interested in developing a
second step to our research – a process that reaches out to the
current dancers for feedback.
If you are interested in discussing this further, please contact me
directly at mail to mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org <ridgek%40j-appleseed.org>.
Thank You very much for your time and consideration.
Ridge Kennedy [Exit 145]
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