Here are descriptions of all twenty workshop sessions included in the SWROC program.  As you’ll see, they cover three broad aspects of dance organizing. Conference participants will have lots of valuable tools and materials to take home!

Session schedule: pdf

Check out the Session Leadership for bios and photos of our enthusiastic team of presenters.


Successful organizations keep seeking ways to keep fresh and relevant. Whether your dance is run by a committee, a board, or just you, this area provides support and suggestions for building healthy dance organizations.  If you’re considering setting up a new series, these topics should give you a great head start.

VISION:  First things first
Annie Laskey, Linda Henry, & Michael Barraclough
What IS a vision/mission? How do we craft and implement a unique mission statement for our dance series? Why is this a crucial step in the growth of each dance? Whether your dance already has a mission statement, or you’re just starting to think about this, or you’re somewhere in between, this all-conference session will offer practical tools and thought-provoking perspectives for addressing this pertinent topic. Together we will explore these vital questions, generating answers to inform and guide our participation throughout the SWROC weekend.

ORGANIZING FOR SUCCESS:  Crucial aspects of building a strong infrastructure for your dance
Leda Shapiro & Eric Black
This session is designed to help organizers of any committee — old or new — get ourselves organized. Topics will include how to create a successful organizational structure, establish a mission statement, what to spend money on, how to make serving on a committee a fun and rewarding experience. We will also discuss how to successfully transition when the old guard retires and new volunteers step up to steward the dance. An information sheet will provided for giving performers an idea of what is expected of them at each dance.

HAPPY VOLUNTEERS:  Finding them, keeping them, sustaining them and using them effectively
Teri Rasmusson
Our dance organizations are created by volunteers. We need a powerful base of diverse volunteers with energy to get up and do what needs to be done! More volunteers means the work is more spread out, and creates a LOT less burnout. How do we identify the right people and manipulate (ummm… convince) them to give their talents and precious time to the dance community? This session will explore answers that will enable us to create a larger and stronger volunteer base, both in leadership and operations.

CAN WE TALK?  Effective organization through meaningful interpersonal connection
Erik Erhardt
Power struggles, hurt feelings, wasted time. Sound familiar? Well-intentioned boards or committees can be brought to a standstill — or worse, friendships destroyed — because of the challenge of working with others.  We can choose better outcomes.  Introduce yourself to a technique for communicating with a focus on empathy and connection that will make your meetings more effective (and all relationships more enjoyable).

MANAGING YOUR MONEY:  Your series is bringing in money. Now what do you do with it?
Leda Shapiro
This session will provide support for navigating the ins and outs of money management for your dance series. Topics covered will include: setting a budget for your series; controlling cash at the event; tracking event income and expenses; producing event, periodic and annual financial reports; preparing required governmental reports (1099s for callers / bands, Form 990 for the organization overall). Provided will be sample income / expense categories, event and annual spreadsheets, and reports for you to mull over.

TECH TOOLS:  Technology can help organizations be more effective
Erik Erhardt, Ron Nieman, & Glenn Manuel
Leverage tech tools to spend more time dancing and less time creating and reviewing budgets, scheduling meetings, managing organizational data and documents, managing mailing lists, and registering for events.

WORKING ON WEEKENDS:  Organizing your dance festival
Leda Shapiro
Organizing a dance series is one thing, but planning a weekend-long event for 100 people or more with big name talent is something else entirely. How is it done? Can it be a source of revenue that helps the dance community all year long? We’ll expose the sweat and magic that goes into creating a wildly successful dance weekend.


Dance events can always strive to improve! Here’s a variety of resources for working with callers, musicians, dancers and sound engineers to create thriving dances across the genres.

USING YOUR TALENT:  How to book, work with, and help improve your callers, musicians, and sound techs
Jeff Spero & Eric Black
We will go over many of the issues related to hiring bands and callers, from the business side to artistic expectations, and how organizers can communicate with performers before, during and after the event. Other topics will include how to establish dances with open mics and open bands. Included will be a chance to hear the performer’s side of the experience.

THE UNWANTED ELEMENT:  Preventing issues from arising on the floor and dealing with them when they do
T-Claw Crawford & David WIley
What do you do when someone is assaulted at your dance? How do you respond when people complain about that “creepy” dancer? When someone is dancing in a manner that is putting their partners in danger? How do you address these issues and still maintain the goal of being a welcoming, tolerant community? It’s best to be prepared before situations like this arise. We’ll discuss these issues through sharing experiences and thoughtful discussion.

COME LET’S BE MERRY:  Developing and nurturing English Country Dance
Annie Laskey & Karina Wilson
Everyone benefits from a vibrant and growing dance community. Is your ECD series as strong as you would like it to be? Having problems finding dancers, bringing up new callers, getting good musicians? Never quite seem to break even? Whether your dance is based in a small town or a large urban center, is  run by one person or formal board, we’ll explore ways to tap into your own community’s unique potential to develop a lively, social, and growing dance.

BARN RAISING:  Sustaining Square, Family, and Barn dances
T-Claw Crawford, Teri Rasmusson, & Doc Litchman
Whatever the billing (family dance, barn dance, square dance), this sort of series helps traditional dance make deep inroads into the general population. Why are these dances important? How do we best meet the needs of dancers aged 2 to 92? What are the unique joys and challenges of a series that’s so community-based and absolutely accessible to neophytes? What successful strategies can you share? Let’s talk!

UNSTRAIGHTENING CONTRA:  Community building through Gender-free dancing
Laura Gorrin & Yoyo Zhou
Contra dancing calls for distinct roles for men and for women, but people don’t always fit so neatly into those two boxes. In this workshop we will talk about our experience making traditional contras more welcoming for everyone, as well as our experience with our gender-neutral dance, Circle Left.  Making contra less gendered not only makes your dance more inviting to LGBT people and to young people, but it also provides exciting new opportunities for straight and experienced contra dancers.

Cultivating New Talent:  Ways to find and grow callers and musicians
Wendy Graham, Erik Black, & Linda Henry
Our musicians and callers won’t be around forever! To ensure that the traditions we love have a long and healthy life, it’s important to provide supportive environments for growing new musicians and callers. In this session we’ll explore a variety of ways dance communities can find, encourage, and train new talent. Sharing their experiences and perspectives will be three leaders who’ve been supporting callers and musicians from coast to coast for decades. We’d love to hear YOUR ideas for helping budding talent sprout up and thrive!

FROM BEGINNER TO ADVANCED – How to keep everyone happy
Wendy Graham
Beginner, intermediate and advanced dancers all have different needs on the dance floor. Experienced dancers want hot-shot material and beginners need easily accessible dances. What can you do as an organizer to enhance happy co-existence? Dance selection can be a big issue in keeping everyone happy and wanting to return to your dance. The difficulty is being able to create a coexisting community with all levels of dancers. We’ll show you techniques you can use to increase the level of dance skill at your events quickly, all the while keeping the dancing fun for everyone.

BUILDING COMMUNITY – How to keep the dance going when the music stops
Jeff Spero & Doc Litchman
Why do so many people come to a dance once or twice and then drop out? How do we integrate all the people that show up for a dance and build a community for all? We’ve give you tips and techniques to build everlasting friendships within your dance community.


Successful organizations don’t stand still! Here are valuable approaches and practical tools for expanding our outreach, finding new audiences, increasing our attenDANCE and more. Let’s expand our dances!

Marketing 101:  Finding and keeping the crowd you want
Michael Barraclough
Marketing has been defined as ‘a process of determining the needs and wants of consumers and being able to deliver the products that satisfy those needs and wants’.  But how can that help you increase the attendance of your dance?   This session will inform you how marketing can help you find and keep the crowd you want.  It will show that marketing has a much wider scope than just advertising and that organizers seeking to attract more people to their dances need to ‘market’ rather than ‘advertise’ their dance. Other areas which will be covered include: the role and importance of the organizational vision in marketing; the benefits of thinking about your dance series as a ‘product'; the importance of understanding your audience and their perceptions of the product (dance series) you are offering; and the all-important ‘marketing mix’ (a set of tools used to help pursue the marketing objectives).

MARKETING 102:  Putting your knowledge to work
David Wiley
Once you’ve established your vision and targeted your audience, how do you use that to your advantage? We’ll venture beyond the proverbial flyer table, discovering practical tactics for marketing your series, from the well-crafted press release to preaching to the converted. We’ll also cover online marketing tools – debatably the most powerful form of marketing we have at our fingertips. What can you do with your physical set-up, your committee, the regular dancers, and your program to get those new folks to become regulars? Do you get new dancers by holding special events? Come talk about marketing and find out how it can be a key piece for developing and supporting your dance community!

ATTRACTING YOUNGER DANCERS: Creating and maintaining a multigenerational dance
Karina Wilson & Laura Gorrin
How can we find youth, incorporate them, and keep them? Getting younger people to attend dances (and keep coming back) seems to be the holy grail. This session will cover two major areas: promoting youth participation (dancers, callers, musicians, board members etc), and, how to have a successful multi-generation dance. We will hear practical ideas and tips from people who have successfully achieved this, and we will discuss things that have been tried but did not work.

MONEY:  How to get more!
Leda Shapiro
The revenue from dance admissions at the door is good and may even sustain our dances. But there may be large expenses looming – perhaps a new sound system, increased rent, insurance costs, etc. Where will the money come from to keep our organizations going? This session will direct you to new streams of revenue that you may have never considered, helping to sustain your dance for years to come.

CROSSING THE BORDER:  Connecting groups within each state and throughout the region
Wendy Graham
Unlike most other regions, our communities are some distance apart which can make it difficult to coordinate with each other about getting talent to multiple places. But the Southwest is a wonderful destination for talent who look to have a national reputation. How can we better coordinate with other dance communities in our state and throughout the region to bring top-notch talent out west? You provide the questions and we’ll try to come up with the answers together.


Southwest Regional Organizers Conference, Sept 19-21, 2014, Albuquerque NM