Gathering workshop instructors, from the decision making process, to contacting them for availability to obtaining signed contracts is like trying to heard sheep who cannot hear or see. By this, I mean that the process takes so long and is so arduous. The results, though, are fabulous!
The process begins with the gathering of names. Names that have been presented to me, names that I can recall from memory, and names of dancers who stand out when watching either live performances or videos. Gathering these names is one of the most important parts of the process. They cannot be just “any” names. They must be names that resonate with other dancers across the country and throughout the globe. They must be a draw for attendees and create a stir amongst the community. These names must also be the names of professional, hard working dancers who will provide quality instruction to our guests. In addition, each name must bring something to the festival to aid in creating an atmosphere full of life. I especially look for a name that will not just show up for their time to dance and teach and then vanish for the rest of the weekend. Instead, I want instructors and performers to visit, socialize, and spend time at the festival – to “belong” amongst all dancers, not above them.
Next, the process continues by narrowing down the list of names. A presentation is created for the board, including a photo of each name, a brief bio, a link to their website, links to their performances, and most importantly, their fees for both instruction and performing. Discussions are had over each instructor; their talent, costs, and name are all considered. Votes are made, narrowing the playing field. More votes are made to choose the almost final list.
Names are contacted; contract negotiations ensue along with the checking of availability for our festival dates. Then I wait, and wait, and wait a bit more depending on the name, as many of the names travel and teach for a living. If and when all goes well, the contracts are signed and the names are promoted. When the contract cannot be worked out, I must move on to the next name on the list, providing a new opportunity for a different name from the list.
The names are now chosen, and now I must select topics for each instructor. I will use last year’s model, as it was a huge success. I will present the topics to the public for their vote and create a running total for each. This is the fun part of the process and quick as I only provide a week to respond and vote.
With names chosen, topics voted and planned, flyers are made and advertising follows. Then, and only then, can I sit and wait, fingers crossed and hope that the choices were all thorough and that attendees love our choices.