Round Dance Tips by Tim Eum—
Programming a State "Beginner's Dance"
State, Regional, National, or other large dance is a cooperative
affair. It takes the cooperation of many people to make a successful
dance, and programming is only one issue. But it is an oft-discussed
there are dancers and or teachers who believe a program is too hard,
too easy, too boring, too fast, too slow, too long, too short, too
old, too many new or unknown, too this, too that -- the problem may
not be the actual program itself but simply the tolerance of those
believe that when you teach round dancing, you should not only teach
the steps and techniques, but almost as important is to teach dancers
"how to enjoy" round dancing. I teach being "playful"
and to dance with a smile in your heart.
new dancers go to their first "big" dance they are a little
apprehensive and self-conscious. Inside, there is always the question
of "will I be accepted by everyone," which some interpret
as "am I good enough" or "can I dance what is on the
program"? For a new dancer to sit out because they are unable to
dance is a blow to their egos. However, for dancers who feel
accepted, no matter how they dance, this is less of a factor.
Experienced dancers/teachers can help new dancers feel accepted with
just a little effort.
course, most everyone, even the new dancer, accepts that they can't
dance them all, but there is a point at which, if they have to sit
out too many, they will begin to question the appropriateness of
their being at that dance, and they will become uncomfortable, and if
the experience is too negative they will perhaps be soured from round
dancing or at least from these big dances. This feeling even occurs
dancers going to "big" dances. I know of couples who refuse
ever to go back to a DRDC weekend (which I think are great) because
their first experience at one was that the program was too
high-level. Even now that those couples can dance high-level, they
refuse to go to DRDC because of that first negative experience. This
probably happens to some couples going to URDC/'ICBDA, too.
problem is not so much the program, but how dancers are prepared for
the program so that can enjoy it, no matter if they can only dance
half of it.
programming a "new" dancers' dance, the state organizer
should be aware of who the "new" dancers are and what they
have been taught. This takes some work in contacting the teachers
with beginner's classes and getting a list of recommended
student-level dances. One thing done in the Washington DC Area that
was really nice was that for several years one of the "new"
dancer coordinators for the annual WASCA Festival new-dancer two-hour
dance, physically went to every round dance beginner class in the
area and gave out personal written invitations to every student (they
got the names from the teacher ahead of time). The program was
compiled from what was being taught by whatever teachers in the area.
Of course, there was a mixture of several rhythms, and "new"
was expanded to include two years --- not just one year. Oh, by the
way, the "Student Invitational" dance (two hours) at the
is free to the students, and they can attend these hours for free
even if they haven't paid for and are not otherwise attending the
WASCA Festival. This was designed to give students a taste of what
square and round dancing can really be. The "Student
Invitational" has always been full and well attended.
attempt is made by the area teachers to standardize a set order of
figures or rhythms in beginner's classes. Success is achieved simply
by getting students to the big dance with enough knowledge to dance
at least half the program and by teaching them what to expect. They
know that it is normal to expect second-year students to know more
than first-year students, that some first-year students know cha and
rumba but not two step, that some first year students know two step
and not cha nor rumba, that if they want to really get excited about
what round dancing is all about, to go into the "advanced"
round dance hall and watch (they can do this also for free) or go
into the 2x2's to see the multitudes dance dances that are not much
different than what they are doing now.
a little cooperation among the leadership, and management of dancer
expectations, a fun and fulfilling experience can be had by all.
tips were first published on the Weavers discussion list in 2009; reprinted in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC) Newsletter, February 2013.
If you would like to read other articles on dance
position, technique, styling, and specific dance rhythms, you may visit
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Past DRDC Educational Articles archived here.
Aditional articles and dance helps by
Sandi & Dan Finch
Gert-Jan & Susie Rotscheid (see Notebook)
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