“We have a lot of dancers who can dance either role here; please make a point of supporting them and ask them what they would prefer to do!”
Good for: all levels, during class or during the dance
If we are encouraging new dancers to choose dance roles based on their interest and not their gender, the hardest part has got to be the social dance after class. We are all so used to making split-second decisions about who we can ask to dance that male follows and female leads are very often overlooked. Even the most outgoing dancer might feel invisible and end up switching roles or leaving the scene out of sheer discouragement. If we want to keep these dancers around for long enough to be “known” and “good” and asked to dance on a regular basis, we need to tell everyone that they exist. Tell them to be on the lookout for these particular dancers and then prescribe a positive action they can take. Dancers feel like they’re contributing something good for the community and new non-conforming dancers get the dances they need to show up and bring their best.
Bonus cautionary tale: I did this once during a dance, but I literally pointed out a particular person with their name. It put them on the spot and they died of embarrassment. So don’t do that.