Kudos for Dance-O-Rama 2016
Thanks to Federation VP Jim Gotta and his Dance-O-Rama Staff, and also to
President Warren Olson and to all the loyal Federation officers and
club reps who took part in putting all of this together. And
let’s not forget all the club volunteers who manned the
tables. OK, and where else do the kudos go … Oh yes!
The Basket Raffle is a major undertaking for every club and a major contributor to the success of Dance-O-Rama in financing the Federation’s efforts to keep our area on the cutting edge of what is happening in and for square dancing in our area. A big thanks to all …
Much of what we do at Dance-O-Rama is aimed at officially welcoming our new members/graduates to the square dance community. Judging by their numbers — 76 graduates — our area clubs did a great job of recruiting and teaching this year. Jerry Carmen had his work cut out for him directing the Grand March! Thanks Jerry, for another great job. And thanks to all of you club angels who helped them get there and had fun in the process.
Judging by the accompanying montage of pictures, I would say we earned gold stars in that effort. Check out the smiles and happy faces.
Of course, this year’s professional staff of callers and cuers, responsible for keeping those smiles present, did just that! Our special thanks go to Brad Deibert from Pennsylvania, who has been calling and dancing since he was 12 years old in Colorado. Then of course, we also had our own national caller, Mike Callahan, and others who could easily fit that category, like Jerry Carmen — celebrating 50 years of calling and cueing this year! And thanks also to Ron Brown and Dave Eno, whose classes produced many of the dancers on the floor.
I’ll single out Mark Thone for special thanks … for showing up as our “cuer extraordinaire” with his eyes still evidencing his recent surgery. I apologize for not getting his picture, but maybe he’s grateful that I did not.
Most of all, we thank all of you dancers who filled our three dance halls. In particular, I thank Dietlinde and Brenda for dancing with me while Irma is still nursing her ailing knee.
Dance-O-Rama 2016 may now be in the history books, but it will live in our memories for many years to come … and I hope the accompanying pictures help …
Dinner Hour Open Mic
I want to thank Sidney Marshall for organizing the Open Microphone
Hour, which actually lasted until the graduates’ line-up at
6:45! With Irma unable to dance, we did not arrive until
shortly before 5:00 to take pictures and gather background
information. As it worked out, this gave me only about an hour
before squaring up. Thanks to Sid’s efforts, I got to dance to Jim
Gotta and several others.
I also want to thank my dance partners: Dietlinde, for the early squares, and also Brenda for later in the Plus hall.
Thanks also, Sid, for all you do with our new electronic Promenader to make it happen … and for Toni and Irma’s patience in putting up with both of us.
Four Happy People
For Peter and Sally Emmel, the happiness comes from knowing that all
went well; that the Big Secret is finally out; and that for the rest
of the evening they can just enjoy the dancing. They have our well-deserved
thanks for a great year of carrying the coveted candy dish to promote
the nomination process.
Then, for Carol Ann and George Stahl of the Grand Squares, there is the happy surprise of receiving this recognition and joining the long line of leaders who have, over these many years, exemplified all that is best for dancing and dancers.
Over the past half century, the Daphne-Norma Leadership Award has become our most prestigious award, instituted in memory of the two initial leaders largely responsible for creating our Federation and even the concept of Dance-O-Rama itself: getting area dancers together from all clubs for a special day of dancing to special callers and cuers.
This award is not bestowed lightly. It recognizes leadership sustained over a significant period of time, and the expectation of continuing into the future.
The handsome new commemorative plaque that Carol Ann is carrying will,
I am certain, have a prominent special place in their home, while the
silver tray will be engraved with the names of next year’s
recipients and passed along at next year’s
ceremony … happily surprising a new winner: Caller? Dancer?
Whom do YOU think it should go to? Downloadable nomination forms are available online from the “Awards” page. Address them to Carol Ann and George. Do your homework, and be assured that the most deserving person or couple will win. Nominations are reviewed and the selection is made in the spring by the three most recent recipients. For next year these will be: George and Carol Ann; Peter and Sally, and Irma and me. Betty and Andy Ludwick, and Sally Baechle act as long term “Advisors” to keep us on track but cast no ballots.
In the meantime, Carol Ann and George will be keeping the candy dish filled and visiting as many clubs as they can; and, just by being there with you, they will be demonstrating the leadership that won them the right to do it.
The honorary receiving line is made up of past recipients of the
Daphne-Norma Leadership Award. This line can be very dynamic given the
vagaries of life. Sally Baechle, shown standing next to Irma, is the
earliest recipient who was in attendance. She knew Daphne and Norma
and along with her husband, Walt, established many of the traditions
that live on in Rochester square dancing. Note also the mix of
callers/cuers and dancers. Jerry and Betty Carmen are at the far
end with Mike Callahan, and Ron Brown is in the foreground. I
also point out that Eileen Webster, although now a professional cuer,
was elected on her own merit as an outstanding leader. Newer dancers
may not recognize Ken Georger in the foreground next to Ron. For many
years, Ken and his wife Kay were Mr. and Mrs. Square Dancing in our
area. They were long-term presidents of the Country Twirlers and also
business managers for the Promenader. It would be impossible to
summarize their significance to square dancing in Rochester here other
than to say they would have few if any peers.
Joining these ranks is no small accomplishment, and we happily add Carol Ann and George to our circle.
Meet the 2016 Daphne-Norma Leadership Award Recipients
Sifting through the histories of past Daphne-Norma Leadership Award
winners, especially those of this year’s winners, George and
Carol Ann Stahl, leads one to think: “Wow, they should have had
that a long time ago!”
True! And therein lies the problem, and the answer to it … and this year is no different from many in the past.
Most of you know that your nominations are carried forward from year to year. They are kept as long as they are viable considerations, often over a period of several years. After Irma and I won the award two years ago, and thus became “privy” to these files, I was surprised to learn that we had been nominated several times over a 10-year period. Thankfully, some of you never gave up on us and in 2014 we somehow rose to the top.
The point I want to make here is that if you know a worthy candidate — caller, dancer, whomever — persist! The selection committee made up of the three most recent recipients must make their decision based on your submissions, and of others that share your opinions.
Pick almost any long-term successful club within the Rochester Area Federation and you will find at the helm people deserving of this award. We need look no further than the clubs of our two most recent recipients: The Village Squares and the Grand Squares. The Village Squares could easily have folded over 10 years ago had Peter and Sally Emmel not agreed to remain at the helm … for over a decade of outstanding and effective leadership.
Along with this article I am asking Peter to publish his and Sally’s “Citation to Accompany the Award” as read by Peter at the Dance-O-Rama Awards Ceremony. It really says it all, citing not only their long-term club leadership, but also their function as club representatives at Federation meetings and various other activities. I know that Carol Ann’s smiling face can be found in virtually every Cabin Party group picture, all the way back to when Irma and I became your Roving Reporters, which is crowding 20 years now!
I understand that the Cabin Party tradition will now be a thing of the past. This was an annual gathering of club representatives and officers as well as the sitting Federation officers, and was held in conjunction with the annual Callers Co-Op meeting to facilitate communication.
Having been away for the winter, and with Irma’s recent leg and knee problems restricting our activities, it was good to be back in time to cover Dance-O-Rama, and get the associated pictures, and offer our heartfelt congratulation to Carol Ann and George. May your lives, and square dancing, continue to be blessed by your leadership and friendship.
We love you and wish you a busy year, carrying the silver candy dish to all of the dances that you can, and everywhere exemplifying your love of dancers and dancing, promoting our activity, and soliciting nominations for the 2017 Award.
Love You and Best Wishes
Daphne-Norma Leadership Award Presentation, DOR, May 7, 2016
We’d like to welcome everyone to the 58th Dance-O-Rama, and extend a
special welcome to our enthusiastic new dancers. We’re proud
that you are joining the square dance community and we know that you
will enjoy this wonderful activity and the many new friendships it
will bring you for years to come.
The Daphne-Norma Leadership Award has a long history. It began in 1977 when Frank Salvaggio and John Fink decided to establish a square dancing award in the Rochester area in honor of their wives, Norma and Daphne. The purpose of the award is to recognize and show appreciation for extensive and sustained leadership within the square dance community over an extended period of years.
Last year, Sally and I were honored to receive this award. We’ve enjoyed taking the Daphne-Norma candy dish around for the past year, to bring attention to the award and encourage nominations. The candy dish has visited many Rochester area clubs, several of them more than once! Sally’s motto is “All chocolate all the time” and my challenge has been to get the candy dish to each dance without it being emptied on the way.
As we pass the candy dish on to the 2016 recipients, we hope that they will have as much fun with it as we have. We’re also passing along some ‘getting started’ candy. Good luck saving it until the next dance!
We would like to thank everyone who took the time to submit a nomination for this award. This year there were several deserving nominees for the committee to choose from. Nominees who are not chosen will remain in consideration for future years.
We now ask all the Daphne-Norma recipients from previous years who are in the audience tonight to come forward and form a receiving line to congratulate the 2016 recipients. We thank all of you for your continuing contributions that have kept square dancing alive and well in our area over the years.
We’d now like to tell you a little about the 2016 recipients of the Daphne-Norma Leadership Award. They are enthusiastic ambassadors for square dancing. They consistently support dances at other clubs and their creative outfits frequently add a real flair to the dance floor. They have been active square dancers for many years and have been presidents of their own club since 2003.
They always arrive early to set up for their dances, lugging in the coffee pot, water jugs, refreshments and putting out the large sandwich board sign by the road each week. Then they stay late to clean up after each dance and carry everything home again. For many years they’ve planned their vacations and work schedules around their club’s dances. They are welcoming and friendly, encouraging new dancers and remembering former members and including them in club activities. Every summer they open their home for a very popular Club Picnic, and they help organize an annual Barn Dance.
As their club’s RAF representative, SHE is a constructive contributor at Federation meetings and helps with the important task of organizing the Federation’s dancer insurance.
They both are also active in their community and in their church. HE was a member of the Rush Volunteer Fire Department and SHE joined the women’s auxiliary. SHE frequently assists with the care of an elderly neighbor. Are we giving you enough clues?
When we re-read their nomination letters for the Daphne-Norma Award we were struck by the fact that three people had used exactly the same phrase: “They are the glue that holds our club together.”
For decades they have embodied the spirit that square dancing represents, and we are honored to present the 2016 Daphne-Norma Leadership Award to: GEORGE and CAROL ANN STAHL.
These pins are yours to keep and wear proudly as the recipients of the 2016 Daphne Norma Leadership Award.
This plaque is for you to keep to always remember today.
As this year’s recipients, your names are engraved on the Daphne-Norma silver plate.
Now for the fun part of the award. We hope you enjoy taking this candy dish to dances as much as we did.
Congratulations to you both.
1987 Jerry & Betty Carmen
1990 Mike & Wanda Callahan
1994 Sally Baechele
1999 Ken Georger
2006 Tom & Liz Chrzanowski
2007 Ron Brown
2008 Eileen Okolowicz Webster
2009 Carl & Shirley DeGraff
2012 Chuck & Sharon Meyer
2013 Barb Green
2014 Dick & Irma Halstead
Mainstream Graduates Welcomed at Dance-O-Rama 2016
One of the many Dance-O-Rama highlights is the annual parade of
graduates. These are our new dancing friends who have completed the
past season of Mainstream Square Dancing classes at clubs in our
Many established dancers already know the new dancers — from serving as class angels or from the season’s many “class/club” dances. But the annual parade is their official welcome into the Rochester-area dancing community.
The June Promenader issue is our opportunity to congratulate this year’s graduates by name.
2016 Square Dance Graduates:
Batavia Silver Stars
Belles ’N’ Beaus
Tom & Ronni Camiolo
John & Barb Corman
Ed & Susan Orlando
Bob & Jeanne Hering
Chris & Pam Kelley
Joe & Donna Manning
Don & Sandy Jones
Pete & Sharon Houghtaling
Bud & Elaine Eggebrecht
Mary Jane Kosel
Ron & Maureen Reidel
Jeff & Debbie Blood
Carlos & Pam Chapek
Gary & Lorraine Granath
Jim & Tracey Lasch
Dennis & Marilyn Rogers
Royce & Jackie Rogers
Jet & Shirley Thomas
Shirts ’N’ Skirts
Henry & Jessica Shank
DOR 2016 Basket Raffle
Thanks to all who made the Basket Raffle a great success once again
this year! It seemed as if everyone had fun creating the baskets,
competing for them and, most of all, winning them. Winners are listed
below. As you can see, there are a couple of winners we didn’t
“catch” when they picked up their baskets, or information
was lost in the excitement. We are still perfecting our process for
basket retrieval. It’s fun for folks to know who the winners
were. If you won one of these baskets, please e-mail your name, club
and which basket you won to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks again for
Batavia Silver Stars — Ed Austin — Silver Squares
Belles ’N’ Beaus — Dean Rich — Batavia Silver Stars
Cayuga Cutups — (did not catch name)
Champagne Whirl-A-Ways — (did not catch name)
Cloverleaf Squares — Eric Bomgren — Shirts ’N’ Skirts
Copy Cats — Ron & Mary Griffitt — Franklin Squares (PA)
Dalton Gang — Rick & Nancy Simmons — Copy Cats, Village Squares
Grand Squares — Royce Rogers — Copy Cats
Seneca Silhouettes — Joy Bookmiller — Batavia Silver Stars
Shirts ’N’ Skirts — Donna & Rick LaDonna — Copy Cats, Village Squares
Village Squares — Terry & Joe Pratt — Dalton Gang
Waterwheel Squares — Fred Ventura — Village Squares
Federation Mother’s Day Hydrangea — Sharon Meyer — Cloverleaf Squares
Pennsylvania Convention — Eileen Webster — Cloverleaf Squares
A Prayer for Beginning Square Dancers
Sally Baechle offered this poem to be read as part of the opening
ceremonies at DOR this year. Sally has been the long-time United
Square Dancers of America representative on our Federation Board. In
the attached picture, Sally, as a recipient, is shown making a Circle
of Service Award presentation at a Federation meeting a few years
ago. Many years ago, Sally and her now-deceased husband Walter, were
honored as square dance representatives in the prestigious Rose Parade
in California. Sally also serves as an advisor on the Daphne-Norma
Our thanks to Sally for her many years of service to our square dance community, and for her offering us this very appropriate rhyme. The following is a transcription of that prayer.
May you dance as long as you want to,
and want to as long as you can.
May your toes never stop tapping
to the beat of a Square Dance band.
I wish you a smile on your corner,
and a partner that can really swing.
And each hand a handclasp of friendship,
as you right and left grand the ring.
May you never forget the struggle
when your lessons are finally through.
May you always reach back with a helping hand
that someone extended to you.
May you never become a dancer
that knows all and there’s no more to learn.
In the midst of the muddle, come out of the huddle:
could be that YOU made the wrong turn.
And as long as you’re dancing — enjoy it
and the friends that you make ’fore you’re done.
With a smile and a song, promenade along,
’cause you square dance, my friends, for FUN!!!
Cloverleafs 46th Anniversary Dance
On Sunday, March 13, 2016, the Cloverleafs celebrated their 46th
In March of 1970, a group of young adult square dancers decided to form a square dance club on the west side of Rochester. They gained the sponsorship of the Chili Recreation Department, which supplied a place to dance at the Chili Town Hall. The club became known as Cloverleaf Squares and their first caller was Bruce Shaw. After returning from military service, Mike Callahan became the instructor for the class lessons. He and Wanda met there. Not long after that, Mike also assumed the role of club caller, and he continues in that capacity today along with being our class instructor. The club has danced at many locales over the years, but the current venue on Chili Avenue is not far from its original location.
Cloverleaf Squares was the host club for the Single Square Dancers, USA Dance-A-Rama weekend that was held in Rochester in 1988 and again in 2006.
Over the years many friendships have been formed. Plenty of healthy exercise and numerous hours of fun times have been enjoyed. Cloverleaf’s dances, as well as other social activities, allow time to enjoy the fellowship among members. Square dancing is an activity that can be enjoyed locally as well as throughout the world.
Thank you to Carl DeGraff for the historical information.
Copy Cats Do It Again
Let Tuesday, April 19, 2016, go down in the record book: The Copy Cats
did it again, and for the second year in a row! Graduating the largest
Western Square Dancing class in New York State. Count them in the
group picture; twenty-six new dancers: Karl Aeckerle, Debbie Blood,
Jeff Blood, Nancy Burdulis, Lee Comelia, Carlos Chapek, Pam Chapek,
Jean Dibble, Gary Granath, Lorraine Granath, Sue Eddy, Judy Kleine,
Mary Jane Kosel, Phil LaRussa, Jim Lasch, Tracy Lasch, Mary Martin,
Dennis Morrissay, Dennis Rogers, Marilyn Rogers, Jackie Rogers, Royce
Rogers, Mary Slough, Jet Thomas, Shirley Thomas, and Evan DeSmith.
Club Caller Ron Brown and Class Presidents Karen Olmsted and Stephen Barkley are included at the left in the same picture. But pictures can only do so much. To capture the real “flavor” of the event, you would have to sit awhile at each of the tables, talking with the graduates, the club “Angels” and the officers, who week-in and week-out carried the load.
As I grabbed pictures and sat briefly at tables with old friends, what I heard was not about the delicious pepperoni pizza and/or the smorgasbord of goodies, great as they were, rather it was about recapturing the eight months worth of special moments: the new friends, the new loves, the new skills, the new-found energy and love of life, all sparked or kindled anew through the magic elixir of dancing in general, and square dancing in particular.
All dancing and musical movements have been proven therapeutic to body and brain; however, dancing in a square with a circle of friends adds benefits far beyond the proven norm for music or dancing alone! The social aspect also has been proven, in concert with the learned movements, to stave off dementia and even Alzheimer’s as new neural “threads” are created!
What a sales tooI this can be for health conscious Baby Boomers now peopling our ever more “youngish” retirement community. Whatever the secret is, the Copy Cats, with Ron Brown teaching (supplemented by Jerry Carmen on occasion) seem to have found it. I hasten to point out that involving seasoned dancers with fun tips for them also is another key factor, as it allows them to do more than provide a ready supply of partners for solos. Having a seasoned “angel” as your corner makes it more fun for everyone.
But enough of the words for now. Take a moment to enjoy the pictures. Most of them are self-explanatory, especially if you recognize Class Presidents Karen Olmsted and Stephen Barkley, and Club Presidents Rick and Nancy Simmons, and Dave Lense. VPs are Rick and Donna LaDonna, and oh yes: it was Mary Jo Webster who organized the treats, if my notes are correct.
Congratulations to the new dancers in all classes everywhere, and all the clubs like the Copy Cats, that have provided us with such exemplary leadership.
Grand Celebration of Jerry Carmen’s 50 Years of Calling
… and Irma wasn’t the only one; hundreds of celebrants packed the
dance floor and the side lines to honor our iconic caller,
cuer, teacher and beloved friend!
We were a little late arriving because of another commitment and had to park in the very last row, which was otherwise also filled. We have been to a great many dances at the old Washington Irving School on Chili Avenue, and for many grand-scale events; however, I have never in my life seen the parking lot this full. If this is a measure of the esteem in which this man is held, he has no equal.
Inside was the same thing. There were people there that could no longer dance, but that came just to honor this man, Jerry Carmen, beloved by so many.
For the past 50 years Jerry Carmen has been entertaining us; on this night, Saturday the 14th of May, 2016, it was his turn to sit back and let all of us entertain and honor him, doing our best to thank him and Betty for all they have done for us over the past 50 years: calling, cueing, teaching, entertaining … whatever he was asked to do. He has been the “Go-To-Guy,” for whatever was needed: setting up the sound system at DOR; directing the new graduates in their Grand March; providing special lessons to help us upgrade our skills, providing calling services, even when it was for him a losing proposition!
The special quality that Jerry brought to the plate has been his positive attitude. Even when challenged to teach a blind person with a seeing-eye dog to dance, his attitude was: “Let’s just try it and see how it goes.”
It worked, and one of the most poignant moments in the evening full of special moments, was when Karen Vetter and her guide dog, Cody, came to the front and sat down with Jerry to recall that experience that added the special dimension of square dancing to her life.
I am also thinking of our Geneva “A” Club, where Jerry always showed up, driving all the way from Rochester; often for just one square, even in the days when gas hovered around $4/gal! The point is, everyone there had something they wanted to thank Jerry for, and showed up, pre-empting whatever else on this Saturday night to do it.
We were all “New Dancers” at some point during the last 50 years, and for many of us, freshly graduated and wanting to hone our Mainstream or Plus skills, the Village Squares and their key leadership team headed by Peter and Sally Emmel and their loyal core of support officers provided the ideal platform. Jerry provided the special calling skills … such that if you danced there regularly, you could head out to conventions with confidence, knowing that you could dance.
Several years ago Jerry started a Sunday Afternoon “Mainstream DBD” club and soon had a loyal following. Some of the best dancers in the area frequented that club, and over the years there have been many others. Wherever the need was, Jerry was always the willing caller.
When you review the pictures that I hope to include here, you will also see a very young looking Ron Brown getting his big break with the Hip Boot Boys. You will see Western Squares integrated with Eastern, or plain old “Barn Dancing” … Remember that Jerry started calling before there were structured Basic, Mainstream, and Plus calls.
Many of you perhaps do not realize that with Ron Brown driving all the way from Cicero, northeast of Syracuse, to teach the Copy Cats record-breaking classes, that there are occasions, given the vagaries of our Upstate NY weather, that he needs a reliable alternate. I note with great pride on behalf of our esteemed friend that Jerry Carmen has always been there … and if not calling, just acting as an “angel,” providing a partner for “solos.”
Square dancers are indeed special, loving, caring people. Have fun for a few moments and see if you can find yourself in the many pictures here … some of them plagiarized from a slide show the Village Squares put together, but most my own, taken over the years, just because he is a great caller, teacher, and friend.
Grand Squares: 55 Years of Square Dancing
On April 28, 2016 about 70 enthusiastic supporters helped Grand
Squares celebrate 55 years of square dancing. We were pleased to have
some new dancers as well as many more seasoned ones. Several past
members were also invited, and we were happy that Andy Shubert and Luke
and Marlys Whitcomb accepted the invitation to join us even if just to
watch and visit.
There have been many changes since its beginning in 1961 as the Lima Grand Squares but through the years the club has tried to maintain the spirit of friendliness that characterized the earlier days. However, just as a married couple cannot exist in a vacuum, a square dance club needs many contributing factors to survive. Over the years several dedicated callers have provided us with the music and the moves. We definitely could not have survived without them. Our past callers include Will Herzog, Jerry Carmen and Gary Bubel, and now Mike Callahan is doing the honors.
Many clubs from the past are no longer in existence and Grand Squares itself has had a few rocky years. When a depleted treasury almost caused an early end to our dance season, the Federation gave us some extra funds to see us through. On another occasion, Mike graciously accepted a reduced fee so we could keep our regular number of dances.
On the positive side, we’ve been blessed with a strong core of dancers, club members and guests, who have supported us by coming to dance, and thankfully we have MaryLou, Barb and Terry who step in to dance the man’s part when we have a shortage. (Lately it is George and Dick dancing the woman’s part when we have a female shortage.) And we can’t forget the individuals who have, over the years, given extra time and effort to be officers. They have built the foundation upon which we function today. Special thanks to Ray and Donna McCagg, who have been our secretary and treasurer for the past 10 years. We would not be here today without their help.
To a lesser extent, a club needs local support, since we do have to dance somewhere. Our move to Henrietta has been graciously supported by the Rush-Henrietta School district. Sue in the office helps to secure our dance nights and has even found us alternate places or rooms when construction or scheduling conflicts have arisen. The staff of custodians have willingly moved tables and set up chairs so we could dance and then put them back again when we finished.
So, to everyone who has done their part we thankfully say “Happy Anniversary” and many more!
State Fair – 2016
About five years ago, the State Fair finance management was picked up by the State of New York in Albany. As a result they made all of the department superintendents employees of the state. We were required to clock in and out when working.
The time that I had to clock in during Fair hours was approximately
three hours. (The time required to put on the dance itself.)
A stipend was provided to my department for services and was a flat fee. As far back as I can trace, the stipend has existed for at least the past 20 years at the level it was initially set at. There have been no increases. At 2.2% inflation the fee should now be double what it was 20 years ago.
From this fee I paid the caller, cuer, mailings, advertisements in magazines, promotion travel, etc.
Each year for the past 13 years I have spent approximately 60 to 70 hours preparing and planning for the State Fair Dance.
In April I received a letter from the management team at the State Fair stating that they were reducing the stipend/fee by 67%. This reduction left not even enough to pay for the Caller and Cuer.
In essence the fee being offered did not even make minimum wage requirements of the State of New York before expenses as stated above. The fee was approximately 0.1% of the department budget. What are they doing?
I met with the Department Manager and then the State Fair Director. They stated that they can only pay $200 for this activity because I am only working for three hours. I refuse to work as a professional in this capacity at a compensation level that is well below minimum wage. Note, according to the Fair Director, I was not the only Superintendent reduced in pay. I therefore am apparently not the only one being abused.
In my view the management team at the State Fair is out of touch and have no idea what they are doing. They had no idea I was paying for postage, advertising, mailing costs, or fees for callers and cuers, etc.
As a result of the current situation, I refuse to work 70 hours for $2.86 per hour. All of the work to make this a success was done off the clock. I intend to protest this with Albany. Albany controls the contracts and processes the Superintendents as State Employees. All contracts are signed and sent to Albany.
They further offered to “allow” us to dance at the Fair. My interpretation again is that they have no idea what they are doing. This has been a Square Dance for the dancers of the State of New York and not just a demonstration of dancing. They appear to be incapable of understanding that and are totally unaware of what the past three Superintendents have been doing to make this event successful. They apparently see it simply as three hours worked.
THERE WILL BE NO MORE SQUARE DANCING AT THE FAIR. I refuse to be taken advantage of or abused by this management team. This will undoubtedly end a tradition that I believe it is safe to say has existed at the fair since the 1840’s. Square Dancing has been the fun activity of choice for many decades. I’m sorry to see it end in this way, but I don’t see how it can continue.
Summer Dancing and Beyond — A Guide for 2016 Graduates
At this year’s Dance-O-Rama ceremonies the Rochester square
dancing community welcomed at least 76 new graduates who have
completed the Mainstream class program at their respective
clubs. These are the folks who persisted through nine months of
bombardment with new words and new moves and survived the weekly
awkwardness of stumbling through class with strangers who gradually
became friends. Now what???
The stock answer used to be that the next thing to do after Mainstream graduation is to start attending one of the summer dancing programs that teach the next level — the Plus calls. That’s a great option for those who are ready.
But for many it might not be the best bet. If you don’t feel all that proficient with many of the Mainstream calls, why jump into a whole new set of calls? Well, the stock answer to that used to be that you have to learn Plus because nearly every square dance club in our area dances at the Plus level.
Sounds pretty daunting, doesn’t it? All the fun and enthusiasm you built up over the past nine months seems to run into a wall at this time of the year. But that’s not really how it is.
Actually, there is plenty of Mainstream dancing throughout the summer and the coming year. Your class and club leaders have probably already explained what they have in mind for you over the summer. But if your club takes the summer off, then your leaders can tell you where to find dancing at the level you want — Mainstream dancing, Mainstream workshop or Plus instruction/workshop.
We at the Promenader haven’t yet found a good way to clearly identify and present all the class options on the website, but the list below shows a few of the possibilities.
NOTE: You’ll find details on each of these suggestions in the schedule pages of this website by clicking the “OUR CLUBS” button on the RAF Home page, then clicking “Schedule” beside the name of the club you are looking for. Also, read their Club News for more information about each club’s summer plans. Browse the “Ads & Flyers” section for details on individual dances (shown in chronological order). Click the quarter-page flyer image to view or print a more readable full-page version.
Weekly Summer Mainstream Workshops and Plus instruction:
NOTE: Both Mike and Gary have told me that Mainstream practice is
included in their summer programs, and that you will be welcome for
Mainstream practice, even if you are not there for the Plus
Also Note: The Henrietta location (Fire Company #1, 3129 E. Henrietta Rd) is air conditioned.
Weekly Summer Dancing, Mostly Mainstream, with Announced Plus tips
(see later in the article for what that means):
Individual Summer Dances that welcome Mainstream Graduates:
(This is only a partial list, based on what I know from a few clubs
who answered my email. Please check back now and then for updates to
this article, since I suspect I will be adding items to this list as I
hear of them.)
Come fall, you will have several options. Many of the area’s clubs are planning to adopt a policy of alternating Mainstream and Plus tips. That will give all graduates a chance to enjoy the company of their new friends and dance regularly through the coming year, regardless of whether they completed a Plus class or not.
Graduates of a Plus class will find that in addition to regular club dancing there are workshops — often held during club dances — that help with troublesome calls. Mainstream dancers will also find many dancing opportunities.
You might ask why there are not more Mainstream clubs in our area. Mainstream clubs have been started many times over the years, only to fold soon afterward or evolve into Plus clubs. That’s because of something you will learn about yourself. If you are like most of the graduates who have gone before you, then after a season or two of Mainstream dancing (which I’m told comprises 68 calls) your body and brain will want more variety and challenge. You will want to learn more calls so that you can take part in the Plus tips with your new dancing friends.
There’s nothing magical about Plus calls. They are all based on the same fundamental movements you have already learned. it’s just that a given Plus call combines the movements in different ways and expands the variety of positions from which you do them. They give your mind an added challenge and reward you with a higher level of satisfaction at the end of a breakdown-free tip.
And while we are revealing secrets, there are a few things you should know about those “Plus Clubs.” First of all, not all Plus clubs dance at the “full-on” Plus level. There are many that dance a more relaxed mix. Maybe in the September Promenader we can expand on this, but four clubs have told me that they purposely maintain a relaxed mix. They are the Batavia SIlver Stars, the Belles and Beaus, the Grand Squares and the Silver Squares. Even if you join the club whose class you attended, it’s a good idea to travel to other clubs to get extra dance time. It’s not “disloyal” to your home club. In fact many area dancers belong to multiple clubs.
The second thing to know is that every Plus club does plenty of Mainstream dancing, but it’s often mixed in with the higher level. If you are a Mainstream dancer, you should look for flyers that advertise “Announced Plus” tips or “Alternating Mainstream and Plus” tips or “Announced Mainstream” tips. Those are clues that tell you roughly how much Mainstream you can expect. Here’s the decoder: Announced Plus means mostly Mainstream; Announced Mainstream means mostly Plus and Alternating means half and half.
The third thing to know about Plus clubs is that their squares often break down on Mainstream calls! That’s because nobody is perfect, and it doesn’t take perfection to make dancing fun. In fact — and I’m sure you noticed this in your classes too — some of the most hilarious moments in dancing start with a breakdown of some sort that snowballs and eventually melts down into fits of laughter.
The final, and maybe most important thing to know about clubs at any level is that they REALLY want you to stay with dancing and share the fun and lasting friendship that it fosters. It’s natural for you to feel hesitant, coming in as a novice into an established group of friends and proficient dancers. You naturally fear that you might be spoiling their fun by breaking down their square. But for every established dancer who is bothered by your inexperience, there are ten others who are glad to see you up and dancing and who will bend over backwards to welcome you and help you fit in. Your dancing skills will grow with time and experience.
I remember Sally’s and my first year after classes. We did not feel at all comfortable with at least half the calls we had supposedly learned, and we broke down our share of squares. But every now and then, at the end of a tip, George Dormer would lean across and say in his quiet way: “That’s good dancing.” What a lift that gave us! I was sure, even at the time, that he said this to every new couple, but it pumped us up for the next tip and kept us coming back week after week.
It’s dancing that makes you a better dancer and more confident. If you don’t have George to encourage you, find some other way to motivate yourself to keep dancing. And be sure to pass along the encouragement to next year’s crop of new dancers, when you become the experienced one and someone else needs encouragement.
Square dancing is a social activity. The dancing gives it a unique structure and adds a healthy dimension of physical and mental dexterity, but it’s secondary to the social connections among dancers in your club — and between clubs.
You’ve already formed friendships with club members who have joined your class as angels, and in some clubs you have been mingling all year with the whole club. Don’t let doubts about your dancing ability keep you from deepening those friendships in the coming year. Keep dancing — at any level — and your skill and confidence will continue to grow.
There’s plenty of Mainstream dancing between now and fall. Your new friends are hoping you will keep dancing and join them in the fall for a new season of dancing.
I especially urge you to greet the rest of us at the Fall Friendship Ball in Canandaigua on September 24th — with (… wait for it …) Alternating Mainstream and Plus tips! Nobody will be left out. (Click HERE for the flyer)
The dancing will start at 2 p.m. and is free of charge. Buffet dinner starts at 6 p.m., costs a subsidized $12 per person and requires a reservation. Take a moment to clip the coupon from the flyer and send in your dinner reservation.
In Memoriam: Leo Gaesser, March 27, 2016
Leo Gaesser passed away on Easter Sunday at the age of 99, a few days
short of celebrating his 100th birthday. He is survived by two sons,
Donald and Robert; three grandchildren, and several great- and great-great-grandchildren.
Leo was a long-time square dancer who danced with Belles ’N’ Beaus and Silver Squares with his faithful partner, Harriet Austin, who also recently passed away. He always had a smile on his face and was friendly with everyone. It was a delight to be in a square with him.
In Memoriam: Luke Whitcomb, April 30, 2016
It is with deep sadness we inform you that Edgar “Luke”
Whitcomb passed away on April 30, 2016. He is survived by his beloved
wife of 43 years, Maryls Cornwell Whitcomb; his children, Deborah
J. Schlenker, Robert W. Schlenker III, Randall J. Whitcomb,
Andrea (Daniel) Whitcomb-May, Amy Schlenker Mangieri, and Anita
Whitcomb VanNeil, along with seven grandchildren and five
Luke served in the United States Army from 1956 to 1958, stationed in Nuremberg, Germany. He was a graduate of the University of Rochester and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. After a successful career in manufacturing management, Luke was delighted to become a professor at Monroe Community College where he taught mechanical technology and statistical quality control for 15 years, retiring at age 71. Luke was extremely proud of the four-bedroom home overlooking Lake Ontario that he designed and built from the ground up. He was a former president of the Williamson Flying Club and a deacon at the First Baptist Church of Macedon. He was also a builder of radio-controlled airplanes and an avid round and square dancer.
Luke and Marlys met and danced at The Andridge House, a roadhouse near the Williamson Airport. Luke invited her to go flying the next day, and the rest is history.
Clubs that Luke and Marlys belonged to include: Swinging Singles, Circulators Club, Web Spinners, Rimon Squares, Copy Kittens / Copy Cats, Cloverleaf Squares, Village Squares, Shamrock Squares, Grand Squares, Southern Tier Wheelers, Round Towners (round dancing).
Luke also thoroughly enjoyed being an Angel, helping new dancers learn the calls and share the enjoyment of Dancing. In his last few days he and Marlys attended the Grand Squares 55th anniversary dance (pictured), where he spoke about feeling well enough to get back into dancing in the fall.