|The International Square Dance Magazine|
AMERICAN CALLERS' ASSOC. VIEWPOINTS
Gain and then Loss
The American Callers’ Association in its attempt to be of service to all callers, dancers, and associations provided current, timely, and effective information on new dancer recruitment, winning ways to retain club dancers, and pitfalls to drive square dancers away from 2001 through 2013. ACA really appreciates the positive comments, encouragement to continue, and contributions from callers and dancers all over the country and from abroad to continue these initiatives. ACA will continue to provide information that will help the square dance community recruit, retain and retrieve square dancers as well as encourage the dancers to speak out on the cumbersome, antiquated and deleterious dance programs.
The ACA Viewpoints articles for the past thirteen years in American Square Dance magazine have focused on the American Callers Association’s commitment to help clubs and callers by researching and relating current and successful recruiting activities that clubs are doing and sharing this information with the American Square Dance magazine readers. In the year 2002, square dancing had an approximate participation membership decline of 11% a year. The American Callers’ Association is and always has urged that the current stressful and lengthy dance program must be simplified to allow for an easier entry and easier dance program. Marketing research suggests that perspective non-dancers want to have clubs where they can learn to dance in as little as three to four months and then dance wherever they wish for as long as they wish.
Perhaps, it is now time to realign our thinking. Look around your town as you drive through it. Do you see many 1940, 1950 and 1960 automobiles? The drivers of today’s automobiles, pick-ups, and SUV’s have updated their vehicles to stay with the changing life styles. The question is, has square dancing gone from being empowered and fed by its dance programs to being starved and imprisoned by them.
We can look with reverence
for the past, but we must focus on the future.
In visiting with new dancers who have recently
left square dancing, several of them stated that
they believed that square dancing has no place
for new and struggling dancers recently out of
lengthy and stressful lessons, nor would they
recommend square dancing to anyone as some
veteran square dancers will not dance with them
or tell them to dance at the back of the hall
with only new dancers in their squares to allow
other dances to have their “perfect pat or pet”
squares. Some square dancers have chided the new
dancers and told them that they did not belong
at the dance because they could not dance well
enough. How can some veteran square dancers push
them out of the activity knowing that square
dancing is in nothing short of a crises decline?
This month’s ACA Viewpoints describes the in and out process encountered by many square dance clubs New Dancers go in, and New Dancers go out, as square dance organizations bemoan the declining membership. Despite the fact that ACA and other organizations have continued to publish examples of recruiting activities that are working here and now and have provided positive results to clubs that have tried them. The real question is, in the long-term, how beneficial were they? In other words, what happened to the coveted new club dancers?
Let us encourage a positive approach. Let’s welcome them and invite them to dance in our squares and not relegate them to dance at the rear of the hall with other new dancers. On the contrary, veteran square dance members should bind together to teach and assist the new dancers. Make new dancers happy to be there. Applaud them, encourage them, and dance with them. Then they will tell others. Activity creates activity. We can make the exit portion of the revolving doors revolve in not out. Along with a revised and simplified dance program, then and only then will square dancing cease to be in decline. The decline of the square dancing life cycle will not correct itself or bottom out and begin growing without changes in the dance program, changes in attitude of square dancers, and a commitment of all organizations to work together.
ACA is committed to working with square dance groups to improve square dancing. Lets move forward together to simplify square dancing, gain more dancers and eliminate separatism and segregation of square dancers and clubs, and pay the price for success not the price of failure.
Any individual, club, caller, or association who wishes to communicate his/her opinions on this subject is encouraged to contact the American Callers’ Association at Loulet@aol.com or Dr. Patrick Demerath at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The American Callers’ Association is looking out for you. Until next time, Happy Dancing.
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