22 Feb

Folk, Contras, Squares

Do modern western square dancers seem pretty parochial about dancing? Seems like most square dancers to squares and (maybe) rounds, and that’s it. And even square dancers who do contras seem to want to do them in a “club” contra context (complete with dress code and canned music). Seems to me that we could (a) learn from other dance forms and (b) maybe work together to interest more people in dancing.

Last fall, there was a discussion on rec.folk-dancing on recruiting new dancers for contra dance series. They’re facing some of the same issues that MWSD is: aging dancers (theirs seem to be about 20 years younger than MWSD, but they’re still having a tough time attracting younger people), difficulty in retaining people once they get them through the door, difficulty in integrating new and experienced dancers.

Deja.com: How to attract people to dances: This is a long, wide-ranging discussion, some of which relates back to the original post on recruiting younger dancers into traditional and English Country Dancing.

Deja.com: Building Up a Folkdance Group: This discussion relates to recruiting for an international folk dance group.

Deja.com: Starting new dance — “advice” sought: An older discussion on starting a new dance series (in MWSD terms, a new club). It branches off into dancing with same gender (a relevant discussion for a current thread in the square dancing mailing list).

Deja.com: Square Dancing First Observations: A thread on MWSD from contra dancers’ points of view. It’s always useful to see ourselves as others see us.

Deja.com: How Well Does a Western Square Dancer Fit Into Your Dances?: Contra dancing explained for the MWSDer.

Deja.com: Square Dancing: The official “National Folk Dance”, Good or Bad Idea: A thread related to one of yesterday’s topics.

Contra and traditional dancers work hard at keeping their dances accessible to new dancers. But even within that community, there are dancers who’d like more of a challenge. And some see that as a threat to contra dancing, leading it to the slippery slope down which MWSD has already plummeted: Open Letter to Zesty Contra Organizers

Chris Kermiet, the author of the previous piece, has also written Building a Dance Community. Even though the contra community is different from the MWSD community, community-building is still important.

Is International Folk Dance Dead?: This collection of postings to rec.folk-dancing looks at the growth in complexity of modern international folkdancing (my first dance love, btw) and the resulting loss of accessibility to new dancers.

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