Sun Assembly English Country Dancers was started in Durham, NC in 1980 by Allan Troxler and Carl Wittman. We are a diverse community of young and old, families, singles, and couples of all genders, experienced dancers and newcomers to dance.
The Heather and Rose Dance Community in Oregon, who also grew out of the teaching and philosophy of Carl Wittman, describe Sun Assembly’s philosophy as well as their own when they say:
“Our philosophy is based upon community and inclusiveness. The emphasis is the whole of the dance community and the whole of the dance. We promote community and inclusiveness by teaching with global terminology, by not using gender to determine who dances on what side or with whom….at our dances you get to know and dance with everyone.
“Global terminology uses language that refers to people’s positions within the dance rather than gender. Since there are usually uneven numbers of men and women, it helps avoid confusion and is more equitable to the majority gender by eliminating translation problems (e.g. I’m a woman but dancing the man’s role so when they say man they mean me). It also promotes community spirit by being inclusive – removing a barrier for and not discriminating against the majority gender. Global terminology has the added benefit of simplicity and clarity, usually requiring fewer words when teaching.
“Teaching with global terminology supports the way we dance. We don’t worry about who is on what side or dancing with whom – we encourage people to dance in all positions of the dance. When you come to our dances you will find men dancing with men, women dancing with women and women dancing with men on either side of the dance. Gender balance is not an issue; everyone who wants to dance can. We feel this inclusiveness builds a stronger community – you get to know and dance with more people and everyone has an equal chance to dance rather than members of the majority gender having to trade in; it is also more welcoming to same gender couples. Added benefits come from dancers learning the whole dance rather than just one side of it (you become a better dancer by learning all aspects and knowing the whole pattern of the dance). Everyone in the room is a potential dance partner.”
We do encourage newcomers to English Country Dancing to partner with experienced dancers as they are learning the new terms and patterns. Having a partner who is familiar with the figures can be a great help in the learning process.