The International Square Dance Magazine

AMERICAN CALLERS' ASSOC. VIEWPOINTS

By
Patrick Demerath

We Can Make 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.

New dancer recruitment appears to be at an all time low as both Mainstream and Mainstream/Plus clubs are having difficulty recruiting new students for square dancing. Square dancing appears to be losing 10% of its dancers per year as membership declines.

ACA supports promulgating a “new way of thinking,” which is thinking beyond the tired traditional and recognizing that different clubs in different parts of the world will apply square dance calling and teaching differently. Square dance teaching, with its traditionally based programs was based originally on economic and logistics. ACA believes that clubs should now attempt to support the existing standardization programs when possible, but this is not the only end in itself.

Rather than the traditional set of weeks for lessons, clubs and callers are now trying new activities, extended one night stand activities, and frequent open houses for new dancers. The American Callers’ Association International One-Floor 12-14 week program can be adjusted to support new dancer open houses as the club wishes. The future holds the keys and ideas that if new creative ideas are applied by a club, it may offer opportunities to increase its number of new dancer graduates.

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 “sacred cows” of the past. We may be talking about a complete overhaul of the square dance product such as new lists of movements, and 12 week lesson programs. The question we as dancers and callers need to tackle is “Would we square dancers be able or willing to change our thinking?” The American Callers’ Association believes that change is not necessarily 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 for all dancers, not segregated levels or programs.

Now is the time we need to get the wheels moving by creating solutions to the critical decline in the number of dancers. New dancers are not easy to find, but they are out there. The American Callers’ Association encourages experimentation with any phase of square dancing. Any club or callers who try new venues in square dancing are encouraged to contact the American Callers’ Association about their experiments and the degree of successes. The American Callers’ Association is continually looking for new and creative solutions and will publish your results. Contributions may be from dancers, square dance clubs and callers who may or may not be ACA members. Let’s all continue to look at changing square dancing to repopulate the activity and to stop the decline in the number of dancers.

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 visit our website and newsletters at www.AmericanCallers.com/news. You are always welcome.

Until next time, Happy Dancing!

Fun set to music!