[Callers] RE: dance guidelines

The Witful Turnip wturnip at sympatico.ca
Fri Jan 28 20:27:24 PST 2005

Hi all,
Re: Lynn's questions:
> 1) Have you ever received a set of such guidelines (or sent them out from
your dance), and if so, would you be willing to share them with us?   > 2)
As a caller, what information would you like to have included in such a

I've never received a set of guidelines from any of the dance communities
I've called in to date. But I have a set of questions that I ask organizers
of new communities, many of which are similar to Lisa S's.  Here are the
questions I ask in addition to hers:
- What style of music the band plays, and whether they'd find it helpful to
have my program in advance of the dance and who to send it to (with the
proviso that I have the right to switch dances as required.)
- Whether the teaching session before the dance is typically done by the
evening caller or by a local. Sometimes with a new community, I prefer to
see what they teach in a teaching session. It gives me a sense of their more
experienced community, what they think is important, etc. What things I then
emphasize within my dances, to add to the session or cover gaps.
- Any figures or formations to avoid, or conversely that they're
specifically wanting to include, for whatever reason. Lately, I've had
communities ask me to include contra corners right before the dance. And I'd
prefer to know that in advance.
- If beckets, contra corners and double progressions are ok to call.
- Whether the crowd hates mixers.
- How many dances are typically called in an evening.  That's kind of along
the lines of the interval between dances, but also gives me a sense of
whether they like the dances to go longer or shorter.
- Anything (unusual) about the size/shape of the hall.

> 3) As a dance organizer, what information would you like to convey to
incoming callers?
And as far as I know, the Toronto dance doesn't send a set of guidelines per
se.  However, since September 2004 the local callers have been specifically
working on raising the level of the intermediate level dancers, so we have
asked non-local callers to address a specific concept sometime.

4) How much detail would you like such documents contain?
It was very interesting to read the Cambridge dance guidelines, and I was
not surprised to see that level of detail for that dance/crowd, especially
after having danced there.  I agree with Lisa G's comment that they are a
very demanding clientele and I would definitely want to know this and the
details well in advance of calling there. I don't see it as micro managing,
but rather making sure up front that the caller is well prepared and that
the dancers get what they expect. Tom's examples were very interesting too.
I would definitely want to know in advance if a community required a
specific dance or figure to be called. I'm still at the stage where I like
to plan a program in advance to make sure that I vary the story lines and
include the "meat." Changing thing up on the fly is getting easier for me,
but I prefer to make sure that I work specific details in. Interesting
comment about the placement of a mixer in a program. I used to include one
in the second or third slot in my programs but then called a bunch of dances
in a row where there weren't enough dancers to pull it off.  Then, I moved
the mixer to the first dance after the break but I sometimes find that
people who hate mixers continue the break, rather than dance. Knowing when
to put it in an evening to help balance the lines would be very helpful. I
think ultimately, the level of detail should be determined by the community.
As a caller, I want the community to have an enjoyable evening.  So I'd like
to know whatever level of detail they feel is important for me to know to
help make sure that happens.
Good topic.  Thanks for raising it Lynn.
The Witful Turnip              wturnip at sympatico.ca
"If you're gonna eat shit, don't nibble."
       - said by Tom Hinds re: calling square dances

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