York and North Humberside recruit new members
January 31, 2024
If you take part in Scottish Dancing you don’t need to be told about the benefits and how much enjoyment is gained from taking part, at all levels.
But recruitment is a challenge for some groups. In this modern age we find ourselves competing with lots of other available activities and our incredibly busy lives. Learning to dance is a big commitment of time.
However, come to Pickering, famous for the Harry Potter trains and also the home of the Ryedale group of York and North Humberside RSCDS. Group leaders Sheila Barnes and Jennifer Robinson will tell you how their hall is now bursting at the seams with new dancers.
Sheila and Jennifer recognise the need to maintain numbers in their group and therefore run regular recruitment drives. The 2023 drive was particularly special. Lots of group members got involved in putting up posters, sharing on social media and generally spreading the word to get new recruits signed up for a 12 week course. At the start of October 2023 the new starter class was 16 members. A few of the dancers were repeating the course but the vast majority were complete novices.
Imagine taking 16 people and at the end of 12 weeks they can Scottish dance. Impossible, some may say, but Pickering will show you it is possible. Now, it’s acknowledged that they wouldn’t pass any high level step class but Sheila and Jennifer’s approach is to get them dancing, keep the enthusiasm and focus on having fun and the rest will follow in time and with experience.
For the first six weeks the beginners danced for an hour immediately before the main group. The second six weeks the beginners danced for half an hour on their own and then for the second half hour they danced with the established group.
So, by 5th January the main group, some 30 dancers, including our ten complete new beginners joined together and enjoyed an organised Twelfth Night Dance, a themed supper supplied by Tim and Alwin (group members) and with the Robert Whitehead Duo providing live music.
It was difficult to tell who was most proud, the ten new dancers, or Jennifer and Sheila seeing the fruits of their labours.
So while, for a short term, the established group has to dance to a programme of slightly easier dances, that is accepted and understood, we were all once new to Scottish country dancing. The group has enjoyed a massive boost in membership, making it all worthwhile and everyone understands that to maintain enough of a sustainable group it is necessary to bring in new dancers and support each other in improving.
If you ever find yourself on holiday in the Pickering area on a Wednesday night, come and dance with us. You will be assured of the warmest of welcomes and the enthusiasm of Sheila and Jennifer is irresistible.