I am a dancer. I love going to dance performances. I love going with my dancer friends. Usually these are the first friends I think to invite to come with me. It's like a reflex. However, I've discovered what I love even more is bringing in the newbies. Bring a friend who isn't a dancer to a dance show. I know, it sounds CRAZY. But it is great. If only dancers go to dance shows, then why do we dance? We don't dance only for each other in our own bubble. I should think, or I should hope, that we strive to reach people, in general - or maybe specifically young women, or children, or an ethnic group, or a random cross-section of the public.
Bringing people to a dance show who would not have thought to go originally exposes them to the form. Maybe they'll hate it. But maybe they won't. Either way, the experience will change their perception of SOMETHING in their lives, no matter how big or small.
And don't just part ways after the show, talk to your fellow show goers. A dancer-dancer conversation may involve topics like - I liked her extension, they didn't point their toes, beautiful canons, etc. Talking with non-dancers is cross-pollination that results in delicious revelations. For example....
....Recently, I brought two non-modern dancers, and one modern dancer friend, to David Dorfman's "Disavowal" at Danspace Project. Wow, were they in for a surprise. The participatory nature of the work, first of all, was a shock to the system, even for me. When we entered the space, the show was already happening. A guide led us to separate sections of the room to sit, where company members entertained/chatted with/engaged groups of audience members. They moved my Indian friend far away to the other side of the room. And I was like, oy, she's going to kill me later. So, we all viewed the piece from different vantage points. And then afterwards, we all stood outside and talked about it. I thought they were going to hate it - the usual complaints like, I was sitting all alone, I didn't get it, why all the talking? In fact, it was my dancer friend that showed the most discomfort from sitting alone. And the other two? Well they had very interesting things to say, and we agreed about many things in the piece I didn't expect we would. One of my friends was a complete modern dance show virgin, and what a way to break her cherry. She loved it. She'll go to more dance performances. Sucess. The next day we were in the park and she shared my excitement in looking up the review of the piece in The New York Times via my cell phone.
Dance is about moving people through movement. Those new audience members are out there... we've just got to find them.