I remember thinking about this situation many years ago. I believe we linked
the family dance with the contra a few times. A small handful of children
tried a few contras. But back in those days, the contras were more community
oriented. An evening would start with some easy dances, and include a circle
mixer and maybe some squares.
At least in my area, Albany, NY (and other areas in the northeast US that I
have visited) the shift in recent years of repertoire away from anything easy,
into smooth, flowing, complex contras -- and no circles or squares — has made
these evenings unwelcoming and inappropriate for most children
But hopefully, dances in Ottawa, Syracuse, Belfast and some other places still
value the community aspect of contra dance evenings.
By the way, how do you keep attention of young people for two and a half hours?
When we started our monthly family dance in 1994, our dances were 2 hours, but
included a 5 to 7 minute story and a 5 to 7 minute singalong . For the last
ten years, our family dances have been 90 minutes, without any “extras”
For a double dance like this, don’t you think a shorter family dance would work
better? Although I suppose some people could show up later for the family
dance and then stay for the contra, without making a huge time commitment.
On that note, after decades of organizing contras, community dances, and family
dances, and watching changing preferences and patience levels of participants,
I have come to the conclusion that in general, shorter is better. So many
dances keep their evening length as 3 hours, even with 80% of the dancers going
home after two and a half hours..
For those dances that get so tiny for the last 30 - 45 minutes, would you
consider thinking outside the box and leave the participants satisfied and
shortening a dance evening?
How many arts events are three hours long? Most concerts and other shows I
attend last no longer than two and a half hours at the most. Yes, in the good
old days, a contra evening would still have a healthy sized crowd right to the
end, but times change.
Part of what keeps our events vibrant and exciting is watching the trends and
reacting with appropriate response
OK, I have 25 other emails to respond to so please forgive me for typos, etc
> On Oct 12, 2017, at 10:05 AM, Emily Addison via Organizers
> <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> Hi All,
> Hope folks are having a good fall!
> I'm writing about a question regarding family dances and linking them more to
> Here in Ottawa, we have four family dances a year... 3-530pm with a potluck
> after. They're always on the same day as an evening contra which starts at
> 730pm with a beginner lesson, dance from 8-10pm. There's not much overlap in
> audiences and we'd like to have some of the families with the younger and
> middle aged kids, naturally flow into the contra dances while maintaining our
> awesome contra dance vibe (not feel overly family dance).
> We're looking to learn from others on how they might have a better link
> between the two.
> I know Belfast does a great job and Syracuse also has Family dances rolling
> into Contras.
> If you do this, might you be willing to share some info?
> Things I'm wondering about include...
> 1. What is the timing of the different parts of the dance(s)
> 2. Is there food/potluck/? involved?
> 3. How does the transition happen between family and contra?
> 4. Do younger kids stick around and not dance when contra starts? If so where
> are they and what are they doing?
> 5. Anyone have a play space for younger kids in the evenings?
> 6. What do you do in terms of callers/bands for the family and contra
> 7. Other things you feel are important details/considerations?
> Maybe you have a totally different model...
> With much thanks!
> Ottawa Contra
> Organizers mailing list
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