Our Side of the Mic
by Bob Riggs
Thanks to Mike Olivieri for the following report that he presented at the CSSDA meeting in Greeley the weekend of January 25th.
The Denver Area Callers and Cuers Association invited the presidents of all the Denver area square and round dance clubs to join the callers and cuers at their meeting to discuss several topics. They initially included:
Booking callers & cuers ... local vs regional vs national, producing dance evenings that attract both our members and guest from other clubs (retaining), year round recruiting (recruiting and regaining), class formats, continuing education for our current dancers.
At the meeting, post-a-notes were provided so the attendees could also submit a topic to discuss. Other topics not listed above included:
Caller/Cuer Colleges? … Leadership Succession Planning … Negativity of club/dancers when dance is small … Dance cancellations – pay caller and cuer? … How to handle dancer complaints. (i.e. Same sex beside each other) … Smooth dancing and courtesy at dances … Longer lesson time so styling can be taught … Dance Productions … Games at graduation for new dancers or not? … What grant monies might be available … History of dancing … Fun facts … Promotion of square dancing … Security of web-site information … How many callers do we need to support all the clubs … Marketing of square dancing … What can callers/cuers do for your club?
Needless to say, in 90 minutes all that could happen was to touch on all the items listed, and focus on just a few.
The main conversation keyed in on dance production, what happens during the dance both from the club/dancer side and the callers side. Gimmick tips, teaching tips, square hopping, progressive squares, announcements, and what happens between tips. Does the caller/cuer announce something special is going to happen on the next tip or round before it is done. If something different is tried during a tip and it doesn’t work, does the caller/cuer keep working it and beat it into the ground?
Does the club leadership let a caller/cuer know before the dance starts what their members like or don’t like, or do they wait until after the caller/cuer tries something and then tell them about it? Place an “after the dance review” like a play or movie would on Facebook or other social media sites to let everyone know how much fun it was to be at that event. Make them wish they had been there and that they need to be at the next one.
From there, the conversation progressed into square dancing’s image. What happens when you tell a non square dancing friend that you square dance? “I did that in 3rd grade, or junior high, etc.” How do you counter that statement to make them interested in trying today’s dancing when there are many other forms of dance out there, like: Contra, Swing, Traditional Square, 2 Step, Country Western, Line Dancing
Ballroom, Polka and others?
Do we need to start Basic level clubs that give our dancers that don’t feel comfortable dancing at full Mainstream, or those that need practice, someplace to dance? How do we get the word out to non-dancers, and for that fact, other square dancers, of events or lessons going on? Do a web search of Denver or Colorado Square Dance and see how many web sites you find. Is your club website easy to find?
Square dancing, or any dancing for that fact, is moving to the music in a social environment. We need to make that environment one of friendship and fun.
The entire 90 minute discussion came down to one word:
Between: callers, cuers, dancers, club leaders, non-dancers, area associations, regional associations, state associations, other clubs, everyone involved in any way. If we don’t communicate, we will never resolve issues or improve our product.