The International Square Dance Magazine
AMERICAN CALLERS' ASSOC. VIEWPOINTS

By
Patrick
Demerath

We Own The Future

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 for most of the years 2000-2016. The American Callers Association appreciates the positive comments, encouragement to continue, and contributions from callers all over the country and from abroad to continue these initiatives. The American Callers Association 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 dance programs.

The American Callers’ Association would like to thank many callers, square dance leaders and dancers for their initiatives to reform square dancing and support the American Callers’ Association Viewpoints. In the past several years creative programs were promulgated in efforts to attract new dancers. Unfortunately, new dancer recruitment appears to be at an all time low as square dance clubs are having difficulty recruiting new students and at the same time, square dancers are leaving square dancing for a variety of reasons, Square dancing appears to be losing 10% of its dancers per year as membership declines.

Perhaps, a “new way of thinking,” which is, thinking beyond the traditional ways will be welcomed. It may be necessary to appreciate that different clubs in different parts of the world will apply square dance calling, teaching, and dancing differently. Square dance calling and teaching, with its traditionally based programs, lists, and levels may be now archaic and counterproductive to the square dance activity. ACA believes that callers and teachers should attempt to hang on to the principles of standardization up to a point when possible, but this standardization is not the only end in itself. What if, square dancing would adopt a unified program of say 60 movements as a single program and all other movements were moved to an experimental position. Dancers and new dancers could all dance together with a “specialty” tip now and then.

Rather than the traditional set of say 40 weeks for lessons and then dancing for up to 12-14 additional weeks before entering into a new program of 20 weeks, clubs and callers are trying a 12 week program of comparable weekend classes. Upon graduation new dancers will be able to dance at club level. The American Callers’ Association International One-Floor 12 to 14 week program fits into this category. Each of these items when applied by a club or caller may offer the caller and club opportunities to increase its number of new dancer graduates as it may offer many unique methods to present the art of square dancing and square dance lessons.

The American Callers’ Association believes that for square dancing to grow, we need to embrace a thinking that invites ideas and innovations and one that is not bound by the baggage of the present.

What are some of these ideas? Perhaps, a complete overhaul of the square dance product such as new lists of movements; no requirement for dress codes, and a lesson program of 12 to 14 weeks.

ACA asks the following question: Can we as square dancers and callers be in a position to change our ways thinking? It can be held that change is not a bad thing, and that we as callers and dancers should be open to change. In fact, the American Callers’ Association was founded because a large percentage of the existing callers wanted to have a one-floor program not segregating programs with a long set of stressful instruction.

It is up to the dancers, clubs, dancer associations and callers and caller associations to get the wheels moving. ACA concludes that the solutions to the serious and critical decline in the number of dancers, are not easy to find, but they are out there for the taking. ACA encourages experimentation and invites callers to report back about experiments they are trying and their degree of success. ACA maintains that over the past 4 decades that we have seen and are seeing and will continue to see changes in attitudes with more talk of changing square dancing to repopulate the activity and to stop the decline in the number of dancers.

The American Callers’ Association encourages callers and clubs and associations to try new concepts in square dancing and report these initiatives and will publish the results in our search for those changes, which would reverse the decline of square dancing.

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 mac@americancallers.com or Dr. Patrick Demerath at pdemerath@hotmail.com.  Please feel free to call or email your ideas and dancing programs and we will be pleased to publish them. Also please visit our website and newsletters at www.AmericanCallers.com/news.

Until next time, Happy Dancing!

Fun set to music!