CRAIG ABERCROMBIE Square Dance Caller

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Leadership Key Note Speech  -  July 9, 2017

What an honor it is to be speaking to you today.

I have asked myself, why I am here knowing where I came from that I will go into that a little later.  I want to thank you to the Washington State Federation for inviting me to be part of the 49th Annual Leadership Seminar.  There are many of you that have great knowledge and experience as well.

Thoughts and Opinions are the way I see it.

WHERE WE CAME FROM

WHERE WE ARE AT

WHERE WE WANT TO GO IN THE FUTURE

Square and Round Dancers are GREAT people!

I am going to talk about subjects that have been talked about again and again.  Hopefully, this time we will find some common area that you will hopefully take back and try in your area.

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN  -  I was born in Astoria, OR 69 years ago.  I now live in St Helens, OR (yes Oregon regardless what the rest of the country believes).

 I started square dancing in 1962, 1962, YES 1962, when I saw a hot gal that I wanted to date, so I started round dancing that's when we memorized round dances before we had round dance cuers. I went to not one but two (2) square dance classes. One was a teen class that was 17 weeks and an adult class in a basement that went from September to June as we never closed the class.  Before CALLERLAB, basically no levels or lists exist as such.  We danced to country music tunes from the 40's and 50's.  Square Dancing has been SO good to me. I met my Wife, Judy through square dancing as a teenager and to think now I am a seenager.  Our square dance tour to China with Daryl & Yvonne Clendenin was one of our biggest thrills.  I even got to call on the great wall WHAT A THRIL!

 

MARKETING -

 

First, we need to be POSITIVE

Internet (Web Pages, Facebook, Emails)

 Facebook posts (share) Hashtags (#square dancing, #fun)

Hall/Yard Signs

Newspapers

Business Cards

Flyers (Laundramats)

Retreads -  Email them before every cycle date  (They are like new dancers)

When doing Demos, get new people involved.

BURGERVILLE?

Target Empty Nesters looking at each other not knowing what to do. (45 and up), recent retires (62-70) however we welcome any age). Widows and Widowers after a couple of years after  their spouses pass,  which we have in Vancouver, WA.

Keep in mind if your average club age is 70, you will not retain a 45 year old.  It will take time to get younger.

Average age of our dancers in 2004 was 69 and today between 75-80!

Whatever age generally associates the music they listened to when we were in high school (for me the 60s).  I do have some Beatles, Beach Boys, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Lionel Richie etc. in my singing call files like I used last night.

When students miss a class, we contact them and let them know we MISSED them!

WE CANNOT GIVE UP MARKETING!!!

CHANGES-

Here is an important job to be done.

Everybody was sure somebody would do it.

Anybody could have done it, nobody did it.

Everybody got angry because it was everybody's job.

Everybody thought that anybody could do it.

Nobody realized that everybody wouldn't do it.

So it ended up that everybody blamed somebody when

 Nobody did what anybody could have done.

HOW MANY OF YOU HAVE HEARD THAT?

But, that is our model in square dancing.

DO YOU WANT CHANGE?  ARE WE TOO STRUBORN  TO CHANGE?

Do we have to have our way because we think it is the right way?  Do we always have to be right?  Do we have the courage to change?

Changes did happen in the mid 1970's when CALLERLAB  made our MS and Plus level lists.

 We in the NW cannot change these but we can make changes in the use of the lists especially with teaching classes that I will go into later.

In fairness, there has been a small change in custom  with prairie skirts and casual wear during the summer months.

Change is all around us. Do you really believe we are too

big to change?

Real results will take time, we did not get here overnight.

CHURCHES -

More services (tradional, contempory)

More changes, Rock & Roll prayers – phrase bands

Clothes changing.  No longer do you have to show up in your best.

Change is all around -  You are not asked to leave if you do not have your best clothes on.

SPORTS -“ SEATTLE MARINERS -  Mascots to inter act with younger fans.  Instant replay, time clocks between innings and, pitching coach visits to the mound.

SMALL CHANGES CREATE RIBBLES.

SO IF WE BOLDLY GO WHERE SQUARE DANCING HAS NOT GONE BEFORE.

Think of it like star wars/star track.

They have reinvented those shows over the decades. We have to pass the baton on to a new guard.

Change can be a GOOD thing!

THE NEEDS OF THE MANY OUTWEIGH

THE NEEDS OF THE FEW OR THE ONE  - Mr  Spock.

HOW DO WE TRANSLETE THIS TO THE WORLD OF SQUARE DANCING?

The needs of the overall ACTIVITY

  Outweigh the needs of the ORGANIZATIONS or

  INDIVIDUALS (You, US or new students)

 The only way there will ever be a real turnaround in the square dance activity is when we make the activity fit into prospective new dancer lifestyles rather than attempt to make prospective dancers fit into our activity.

Its a different world.

OR MORE SPECICILLY - 

  Square dance dress - historic heritage dress that we do  not ware anymore that you see in National Convention expositions.

  We really don't  want to change.

  We say we want to change but, really do not mean it.

 All it takes is one small change.

 How do we know, we did it to ourselves.

EXAMPLES -

Using myself, I was a terrible caller when I retired from the US Postal Service 14 years ago. I knew it and wanted to do something about it so, I started doing my homework.  Thank you to Daryl Clendenin he sent me to a voice coach (Pauline Jensen) that helped me learn how to breathe and taught me how to yodel. I also attended three (3) callers schools with the following instructors, Frank Lane, Earl Johnston, Bob Fisk, Wade Driver and Daryl Clendenin.  I learned the most from my mentor, Jim Hattrick. Without his help and patience I would not be here today. He taught me it ain't what you call, It's how you call it. Studying under Jim and calling guest tips things started happening but not right away.  I also got help from Bill Helms and Ed Kramers as to what clubs to go to that got my Colorado and Texas tour dates going.  I did some renting halls and putting on my own dances of which at first did not go well.

 I did not force clubs to hire me but, my change in attitude and friendlessness and hard work began to pay off.  My three clubs, R Square D, Kelso, Fairway Village Squares, Vancouver and, St Helens Squares, St Helens, OR all requited me. In addition I have been asked by River City Dancers, Milwaukie, OR to teach their class this year.   I also made a change to my programs in 2014 when another good caller friend, Al Frazier asked me to come to Texas and help him call and sound their state convention. We toured Texas and the Little Rock National Convention.  I WATCHED and LEARNED how much FUN they were having.  In my opinion, we have been so serious with work Coro that there was no smiles and the fun was gone.  I decided to change my dances/classes to FUN and back off on some of the work shopping, like last night which is how I try to make all my dances/classes.  I say now I teach FUN not dancing.

By doing the above you then develop the "Art"  of Teaching, Calling and Entertain.  Callers must learn how to REALLY call and TEACH once again.

ALL CALLERS owe it to our new and existing dancers our BEST effort possible.

ISSUE #1

DRESS CODE-

AMONGST PROSPECTIVE DANCERS THIS IS OUR BIGGEST NEGATIVE!!!

Traditional vs nontraditional

Dresses twirling and styling that we no longer teach

We have changed to long dresses, skirts and blouses NO PETTICOATS

Forearm moves have gone to hand holds

Footwear- Boots, dance shoes to sneakers (how many here wore boots last night?)

Change square dance attire to be encouraged, BUT DON'T FORCE IT!

If we are here to dance, go through a puzzle the caller puts us through, what does it matter what I am wearing dress or???  Not that I have not worn one before (13).

WE SHOULD NOT FORCE IT!

On the other hand as boomers we do not want to be told what to do/wear. If we say nothing, they will conform on their own to look like us. Example -  St Helens Squares wear casual to classes but, we have two to three special dances a year and all the gals WANT to wear skirts, blouses and petticoats!

ISSUE #2 -

What are we selling - dancing or duties?

You can learn to square dance in 30 weeks - you can do it!

Just once a week commitment FOREVER!

Until you graduate, then club dances

Don't forget caravans

You will need to come early to setup &

 Stay late to breakdown and cleanup.

And we dance every 3rd Tip Plus and do rounds

 So you only get 45-60 minutes of dancing for a

 Two (2) hour dance and pay FULL price.

I get to watch them do rounds & PLUS.

(We did eliminate some of this at R Square D and some others have with an Hour of PLUS before the dance).

How about new dancer/level dances that have rounds.

New dancers do NOT do rounds.  How about only 1  round between tips?  Who are we holding these dances for?

WE WANT TO RETAIN THESE NEW DANCERS .  When have new ideas we need to be open-minded.  You can always go back.  With this in mind we do not want to keep trying to teach to the lowest common denominator.  You will lose awesome new dancers.  Square dancing is not for everyone.

DUTIES, DUTIES AND MORE DUTIES:

Don.t forget we have a board meeting.

You just graduated, you want to run for the board?

Don't forget club demos.

 How many new dancers have we really gotten from them?  Nursing homes?

And if you have a National/State Convention, we want you to volunteer for a 2-4 year commitment.

It's all about requirement.

How about doing something for your board members

 (President-Treasurer, who usually is on the door)

  1. Free club dances during their terms.
  2. No club dues during their terms.

How do you pay for this?

 How about those NOT serving pay a little more or increase your dance admission.

It's NOT THAT EXPENSIVE!

Maybe then dancers would want to serve and eliminate

 Our problem of no one wanting to serve.

ISSUE 3 -

Our annual/biannual joining party.

How long would a car business stay in business if you could only buy a car 1 or 2 days a year?

CAPITALIZE on Missed Opportunities.

 How about a Free Intro how to dance before you club dance? (You already have a caller, hall and refreshments)

What do you have to lose?  If no one shows up you get another hour of dancing.

State Festivals, 2014 & 2015, Dave Harry volunteered to do a Free Intro both Friday & Saturday nights.  2015, 4-6 squares, 2016, 1-3 squares.

Start a class RIGHT after Festivals do not wait until Sept.

2015, Dave Harry did that and got a new family to dance.

2016, R Square D did just that.  We had 6 new dancers show up for a couple of weeks and then?

We tried it once it did not work.

FLASH MOBS!!!  How did that work?  Dancers from BOTH Washington and Oregon. How many of you got some new dancers from this last September?

When you start a class and go all the way thru Mainstream, it's too much to teach and too much to learn. Especially for TODAS busy people.  THINGS ARE DIFFERENT NOW!

Our product needs delivered to our customers in the proper dosage. 

Not the dose we want them to take, but the dose that fits better with their busy life styles like 8 weeks standard application with multiple starts each year. Multiple starts allow them to bring their friends in right away instead of waiting 6-12 months only makes too much sense.  At present we have no such product available statewide, and that's a shame.  Vancouver, Kelso and, Olympia do have such a program available.

If our old ways is what success is, I sure do not wish to see failure.

THANKGOODNESS WE HERE IN THE NW HAVE A STRONG MAINSTREAM PROGRAM!

Do you care about the survival and growth of square dancing?

I THINK WE CAN ALL AGREE THAT WITHOUT NEW DANCERS WE ARE LOOKING AT A VERY BLEAK FUTURE FOR SQUARE DANCING!

HOW DO WE GO FORWARD FROM HERE?

WOULD YOU LIKE NEW DANCERS SAY EVEN FOUR (4) DIFFERENT TIMES A YEAR ALLOWING FOR SUMMER BREAK?

 Have joining party/start new classes every eight (8) weeks, leaving only the first two (2) nights of class open.  

If someone shows up on night three, take their name and number and let them know the next session will start in six (6) weeks.

One and one half (1 ½) will be the Basic B 51 Program and the Mainstream Program one half (1/2) hour, 30 minutes following.  Still your normal 2 hour class.

This by the way is the same program that Jim Hattrick not only talked about here 12 years ago.

This program allows for students to miss classes for vacations, surgeries etc. and only have to wait for the next "cycle"  rather than the next January/September.

Also, many of our new students did not feel comfortable going on to Mainstream for two or maybe three (3) cycles.  Second time thru the cycle the new student know what is coming and do not have  "that deer in the headlight look."  They enjoy it more and, is now an angel/helper giving your club more of them (another benefit).  We still have them today.  Often students become discourage about lesson six (6) and we lose them without a multiple start dates.

It really does still take about thirty (30) weeks to become an accomplished Mainstream dancer but, smaller doses is an acceptable program that our new dancers will accept like college twelve (12) week or another say six (6) week sport class.

Three Rules:

  1. Step Forward
  2. Dance to the Beat of the Music
  3. No Pushing or Pulling

Start every lesson in a circle mixing people up.  Like I did in our workshop yesterday afternoon.

  Teach all two (2) couple moves in a circle

Rotate dancers around in different squares

 In an hour and a half I do 20-25 minute tips (3 tips).  I start the first two in the circle and the final one square up with partner.

This also allows students and angel/helpers to get know each other while helping new dancers and discourages club clicks.  Everybody will know everybody at the end of classes.

Make each class a dance, LESS TALK! Also, do not teach to the lowest common denominator as you will lose awesome new dancers in favor of a new dancer that continues to struggle.  Square Dancing is not for everyone.

TEACHING IN A CIRCLE

Easy to mix & change partners

 Only need two couples

 Caller does not need to resolve

 Caller is forced to get out of comfort zone

 Learn faster

Circle Moves: (33 of the B 51 Basics)

Arm turns, stars, circle left & right, Left Alam., DoSaDo,

Sashay family, bend the line (to face another couple),

Forward & back, veers, CA Twirl, Partner Trade, sq thru (3-5), ladies chain, do paso, walk @ left hand lady, see saw, Alamo style (start sw thrus), dive thru, R & L thru, U turn back, ocean wave, extend, circulates, POW, trades, runs, box the net, swing, flutter and rev flutter wheels, sweep ¼, chain down the line, wheel around, touch ¼.

FRIENDLY- MAKE THEM FEEL WELCOME!

I get to know their names.  People really enjoy you calling their name not you in the red shirt.

We actively hold B 51 dances in our area.

At R Square D, I will invite them to the club dances after the sixth (6) lesson to start the transformation.

Keeping in mind that we do not have large classes like the heydays, but, the new students we get we are keeping them with a Â

 multiple start program.

IF YOU NEED HELP OR HAVE A QUESTION ON THIS CLASS FORMAT.  PLEASE ASK!!!

R Square D results with multiple start date 2010-Club dance.

   2010-Club attendance: 3.50, 2017 5.00 squares

 2016- (7th largest club in the State)

Fairway Village Squares during this same period have gone from 1 to 4-5 squares at our dances as well.  Fairway Village Squares is a Senior Afternoon Club.

THIS WAS A TOUGH YEAR WITH SNOW STORMS FOR JANUARY CLASSES!

Make class a dance that is FUN and ENERGETIC.

This also helps retain helpers/angels.

It's VERY important to get our new dancers to our State Festivals BUT, they still need our help as mentors/their security blanket in their squares.  This is a hard thing to do when you see your old square dance friends only once a year. This was given to us when we were new dancers.  It is very important to help them get secure at larger dances.  I did notice younger new dancers this year at Spokane and they were SCARED.

I want to thank you all for inviting me to be your 2017 Leadership Key Note Speaker.

And to all you leaders that have come here this weekend.  THANK YOU! Where would we be without great leadership.

Again, this is my opinion and thoughts. Hopefully, this will help in the future as some in our activity have done.

If you like one idea,

PLEASE, put your personal needs aside.

It's ALL about our Activity.

UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL.

Have a Safe Trip Home.