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Roundtable Discussion Groups Prove Successful

Submitted 11Oct2004 by Karin Dean-Kraft. Sharing experiences and learning from one another was the goal of the "Roundtable" exercise introduced at the 2004 Delegates Meeting. Ten small groups of delegates were each given a different question and 20 minutes to brainstorm ideas. A spokesperson for each group then reported out to all the delegates, expanding on the bullet-point list the group made. The vast majority of the delegates agreed that the exercise was a great learning experience and well worth the hour. Some even said they would try the same exercise within their own Vereine!

 


 

You may recognize the concept from an article Carolyn Marquardt wrote about her experience at the Bayerischer Trachtenverband's Vorplattler- und Vortaenzerinnen Wochende in Holzhausen (January 2002 "Gauzeitung"). The committee (Carolyn Marquardt, Karin Dean-Kraft, Cindy Hartz, Heidi Von Recklinghausen, and Michael Olk) based our Gau's Roundtable on that format, using some of the same questions. After Carolyn gave a short introduction, the delegates counted off from 1-10, insuring that each group would have representation from a mixture of Vereine. If a group finished early with its prime question, it had the option of answering one of two "bonus" questions, and a few groups did so.


 

 


 

The following is a summary of the questions and ideas put forth by thegroups.


 

 


 

WHAT IS THE MEANING AND PURPOSE OF A TRACHTENVEREIN?


 

  • Discover, preserve, and promote culture and heritage
  • Keep traditions and language alive
  • Form friendships and have social interaction; promote unity; make good memories
  • Dance!
  • Interact with Vereine in Germany; evolve because of these interactions
  • Travel
  • Encourage children's participation, interest, enjoyment
  • Expose non-Trachtler and make them aware of the culture
  • Self-presentations, self-consciousness


 

 


 

HOW CAN A CLUB ATTRACT NEW PEOPLE AND INTEGRATE THEM INTO THE GROUP?


 

  • Recruit from other clubs (if your Verein belongs to a local umbrella organization)
  • Reach out to parents whose children show interest
  • Recruit from local schools which teach German
  • Promote the social aspect via posters/photos of club members having fun
  • Subsidize the cost of or provide a pool of Tracht for children
  • Utilize public access cable
  • Challenge current child members to bring in other children; reward them
  • Provide German language instruction along with dance instruction


 

 


 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A TRACHTLER OR TRACHTLERIN?


 

  • Upholding traditions and protecting them from ridicule
  • Being a special person
  • Encouraging preservation of special craftspeople such as seamstresses
  • Gemuetlichkeit
  • Teaching children through participation, values
  • Offers unique values
  • Dedication and importance of being committed
  • Pride in your heritage
  • Being part of a team that needs dedicated followers
  • Ties families together
  • Builds friendships and relationships from Verein to Verein
  • Branching out across your neighborhood


 

 


 

HOW DO YOU GET YOUNG PEOPLE TO STAY ACTIVE AS THEY GET OLDER?


 

  • Take kids to other Vereine, Feste, and Gaufeste
  • Make them feel they're an important part of the Verein
  • Become aware of Vereine in Germany; adopt a Patenvereine
  • Help them learn the German language
  • Start them dancing with adult dancers earlier; 12-14 is a good age
  • Make it fun for them
  • Teach them skits, songs, new figure dances
  • Parents must help teach German at home; it's good reinforcement for adults and children
  • Take all the children on group trips
  • Create jobs and things for them to do


 

 


 

HOW DO YOU PREPARE A SUCCESSFUL PLATTLER OR DANCE PRACTICE?


 

  • Arrive and start on time
  • Ban cell phones
  • Vorplattler needs to prepare a focus such as drills (line dancing, spinning); prepare agenda/outline
  • Work on basics at every practice; select a special skill to work on
  • Take dancers aside for focused instruction
  • Ensure consistency in one dance before going to the next -- keep learning, repeating; review weekly
  • Practice structure -- learn it and keep repeating it.
  • Have three Plattlers that are "basics" and use these as leverage to other dances
  • Break dance components apart
  • Work on stage presence
  • Break practice time into sections -- basics, waltzing, marching, turning; i.e., don't "just dance"
  • Videotape everyone; let them discover their own mistakes
  • Constructive critism
  • Wear correct attire (skirts, shoes, Lederhosen)
  • Cut down on chit-chat
  • Make time to train and work with children and new people


 

 


 

HOW DO YOU DISCOURAGE ARGUMENTS AND CLIQUES IN A VEREIN?


 

  • Vorplattler rules! (this "wish" met with much laughter!)
  • Encourage more involvement
  • Delegate responsibilities to more members/be more inclusive of members
  • Create more team effort
    • Everyone knows their job
    • Identify one person as a problem solver
    • Do more social activities that are not club-related
    • Encourage open communication
  • To avoid cliques -- switch off partners
  • Appoint a designated mingler/mixer/PR person at Feste (this person's responsibility is to go among the non-members at Feste and socialize)


 

 


 

HOW DOES A VEREIN KEEP FROM BECOMING STAGNANT?


 

  • Encourage research or learn a new dance
  • Assign different members to research and/or teach a new dance
  • Talk to other clubs
  • Be willing to share with other clubs and one another
  • Organize a dance workshop with other clubs
  • Encourage free-style, fun learning environment


 

 


 

HOW DO YOU INTEGRATE AND KEEP THE INTEREST OF MEMBERS OF ALL AGES INTO ONE VEREIN?


 

  • Pass the torch -- make teens leaders as they get older. Those who can no longer dance should pass on traditions
  • When you do get together, don't just let the children play games, get them involved and reach out to them
  • Outreach


 

 


 

WHAT IS VOLKSMUSIK AND HOW DO WE AS TRACHTLER/INNEN RELATE TO IT?


 

  • Should be participatory, not just geared towards performance
  • Done with limited skills, everyone does it together
  • Encourage it at home
  • Perform for the love of the music regardless of own nationality
  • As you're learning the songs, translate the words to understand the meaning
  • Encourage more singing at Gau functions


 

 


 

WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE FUNCTION OF THE GAUVERBAND?


 

  • Foster ties with Bayerischer Trachtenverband and North American Vereine
  • Keep our traditions and share/disseminate them
  • Exchange ideas/develop ideas with other groups and for the Gau
  • Bring together many groups into one
  • Promote and preserve Bavarian culture in North America
  • Teach the children
  • Participation
  • Help steer and focus groups
  • Bring Canada, North America, and Germany together more
  • Adopt other people from other clubs into our families


 

 


 

WHAT CAN THE GAUVERBAND DO TO HELP ITS MEMBER VEREINE?


 

  • Integrated song sheets, resources, what does the dance mean, where does it come from?
  • Regionalize Einzelplatteln
  • Communication
  • Consignment shop at the Gaufest
  • Make Gau officers available to Vereine for training
  • Make a shopping list of the Gau's services
  • Assign research topics to a Verein for publishing


 

 


 

WHERE DO YOU SEE THE GAUVERBAND IN 5-10 YEARS?


 

  • Cancun or Caribbean!
  • Twice as big as we are today
  • Better understanding of our culture
  • Better utilization of what the Gau has to offer
  • Einzelplatteln in the Gau
  • Encouraging new blood in leadership
  • Developing a relationship with a Verein in Germany/Austria
  • Encouraging new participation in Gau competitions
  • Making use of the Gau library
  • Exchanging children with Patenverein (not permanently though!)
  • Providing workshops for children based on what they want and enjoy: self-expression, what dances they are interested in, providing a way to understand traditions; games; gentle competition


 

 


 

HOW CAN A VEREIN GROW IN DEPTH OF KNOWLEDGE (not necessarily in number of members)?


 

  • Host a foreign Verein
  • Host a Heimatabend and learn from other Vereine
  • Junior exchange programs
  •  Expose them to other cultures
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