German Folkloric Dancing in Australia

Case Study on the "St. Raphael´s Deutsche Volkstanzgruppe"

Term Paper, 2004

9 Pages, Grade: High Distinction


Table of Contents

1. Overview of the case
1.1 Study Design
1.2 Background of the Dances themselves
1.3 Background Review and Development of the St. Raphael´s Group

2. How to get the St. Raphael´s Group “back on track”
2.1 Market Segmentation
2.2 Target Market Selection and Positioning
2.3 Values of Dancing
2.3.1 Sociological benefits
2.3.2 Physiological benefits
2.3.3 Psychological benefits
2.4 General marketing and advertising

3. Resumé

4. References
4.1 Monographs
4.2 Interviews
4.3 Bibliography

1. Overview of the case

Folkloric Dancing is a sport which can be experienced and shared at all levels and for all age groups. While many people dance purely for the enjoyment with the knowledge and background that is engrained in the dances, there is also the challenge of various kinds of social, physical and psychological values (Hall, 1963). Dance legend Beth Dean states: “Folk dance is people. Folk dance is sharp cries, irresistible shouts; it is swirling, turning and leaping for joy. It is effervescent, evanescent. It is dancers pounding into the earth or knifing through the air. It is communal or solitary; it is people.”

The preserved IDENTITY of the performers and the dances themselves is of great value for everyone who seeks to express ‘individuality in conformity’, individuality in clothing, in music, and in the so-called modern forms of dance. Due to wars and disasters large communities of people have been torn from their countries. Often this has been the force behind them to strongly retain in their grasp their rich heritage of dance steps (Dean, 1974).

Throughout Australia there are approximately 12 German Folk Dancing Groups. They get together every two years at the national Volkstanzfest, which is held in a different capital city of Australia each time. Lately however, some of these groups have disbanded and are no longer performing, which reflects also the general trend of declining interest in folkloric dancing (Gurka, 2004).

1.1 Study Design

Since 1978 the “St. Raphael´s Deutsche Volkstanzgruppe Sydney” has been performing German folkloric dances at competitions, dance carnivals and special occasions on a regular basis. In recent years, the participation rate of active members of both the children and youth group was gone down considerably, so that the group is currently struggling to have the optimal size of 8 couples performing on stage at all performances (Gurka, 2004).

This study will focus primarily on more active approaches and new marketing ideas towards the St. Raphael´s Youth Group with the ultimate goal of encouraging potential members to join and participate. After some background information on German Folk Dancing itself, a market segmentation process will be discussed, highlighting the distinct values of Folk Dancing itself and the social benefits attached to it. Secondary data as well as expert interviews are considered as the main sources of research information. In the final part of this paper, some practical advice on ‘what to do to get the struggling group back on track’ will be given.

1.2 Background of the Dances themselves

Germany has always had a long tradition of festivals, fairs, celebrations and customs; the most famous ones being the Oktoberfest, Schützenfest and different types of May-Dance functions. With regards to dancing traditions, Germany can be roughly divided into North and South. In the Northern parts, more classic circle dances are to be found, whilst in the South couple dances such as waltzes and polkas are predominant (Dean, 1974). Due to the geographical proximity, Southern German and Austrian dances are similar in style and are both performed by the St. Raphael´s Group. Claps, stamps, various types of turns, elevation and the famous Schuhplattler are included in the dances, which tend to start off at a medium speed to be followed by the dancers with runs, gallops, waltzes or polkas. Often the girl dances in front of the man whilst he follows flicking her skirt or flirting in all different sort of ways (Wingrave and Herold 1984). The Schuhplattler is a distinct form of knee, bottom and shoe slapping dance performed in the original Bavarian Lederhosen (leather pants).

German folk dance therefore is a rather relaxed and enjoyable form of ethnic dance, where social aspects are predominant over technical choreography. According to the St. Raphael´s group leader Joe Gurka, the grade of difficulty of dances performed by the youth group can be considered medium to difficult. Whereas in the beginning the group danced quite simple dances which were learnt very quickly, the current performances are more lively involving rather complex Schuhplattlers.

Dean describes the Schuhplattler Dances as “funny slap dances, irresistible calls that are almost a yodel, and music which was loved in villages for generations (…).The joyous thwacking by the men of hand upon leather shorts, against heels smartly lifted up for it, and the clapping and little shouts, are all in the Hofbräu atmosphere of convivial feast days” (1974:60).

1.3 Background Review and Development of the St. Raphael´s Group

In close cooperation with the German Speaking Catholic Community Sydney, the “Deutsche Volkstanzgruppe” was found in 1978 by German immigrants, whose children constituted the first youth group members. For the first 5 years the group mainly danced at community functions. The first external performance was at the national folkloric festival in the Sydney Opera House in 1983 (Gurka, 2004). The youth group danced at this function annually for 8 years until the function ceased. During that time the group became known outside the community and began to get invitations to perform at other clubs and venues.

Since the early stages, most group members and new participants were found in the German Community / Blacktown. Many German speaking families emigrated from Europe before, during of right after World War II. They accounted for a high number of people interested in joining the Dancing Group, because through folk dancing – with all its traditions – their feelings of ethnic identity and national heritage could be preserved (Dean, 1974).

In recent years, the group size of the Volkstanzgruppe has reduced from 10 to only 6 couples and less young German immigrants seem to be interested in joining the youth group. In former times all participants were German or children of German immigrants; however the current group consists mostly of second generation Germans.


Excerpt out of 9 pages


German Folkloric Dancing in Australia
Case Study on the "St. Raphael´s Deutsche Volkstanzgruppe"
University of Technology, Sydney  (School of Leisure, Sport and Tourism)
Sports Marketing
High Distinction
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
530 KB
German, Folkloric, Dancing, Australia, Sports, Marketing, Volkstanz, Tanz, Sport, Australien, Schuhplattler
Quote paper
Master of Sports Management (MM Sportmgt) Nico Schulenkorf (Author), 2004, German Folkloric Dancing in Australia, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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