[Callers] New Caller Assistance

Karen Fontana karen_fontana at yahoo.com
Mon Oct 2 14:45:30 PDT 2006

Hi Will,
  What a great question, glad you posted it as it’s interesting to see all the responses
. Here's what I do:
  I type up almost all dances that I want to call in a separate word document file.  As I’m typing up the dance, this is when I do much of my studying, so it can be a very time consuming process, but just one that I’m in the habit of now.  I put the same info in the same place on the card for consistency which includes: 
  Top of Card:
     “4 potatoes call” (this I usually write in by hand, top left)
     Level 1 – 5 (my own rating 1 = easy 5 = difficult), example L3
     Music:  music notes for the band (top right corner), sometimes type “Music” then just write in notes by hand.
  Next line:
     Dance formation (Duple Imp, BECKET etc)
     By: Author; City and State the Author lives in, or at least the State
  The dance
     A1, A2, B1, B2
      The phrasing beats in parenthesis on the left (4,12), then WHO, then WHAT figure, and where end up, who facing, where P is
                     A1:  (4,12) Neighbor Balance & Swg end facing down  (or just “N Bal & Swg” )
              This is the point where I’m studying where each person is at each point of the dance.  I usually visualize it in my head.  If I remember where I danced it and with whom, I can see the hall and the dancers in my head. Otherwise, I start scribbling on a piece of paper, not very scientifically, just the part I may be stuck at in my head.  If I still don’t get it, I’ll ask a caller friend.
  As much as possible, I look up every dance back to the original source: the author’s web page, hard copy book, or credible online databases. It’s an annoying habit that I started with and can’t shake.  I want to be sure the version I have is the same one the author wrote, or know which part is modified.  I also really enjoy knowing any story about the dance, why it was written, any teaching notes the author suggests etc.  
  Once I understand the dance after typing it out, I’ll add any teaching notes and note where I collected it, what I liked about the dance, who I danced with, what minidisk # recorded on, and where the dance is documented (original source). Usually I put the dance source and story about the dance on the back of the card.
  Once I hit “print”, I’ve studied the dance pretty well and written it in a format for calling with teaching notes.  I print two copies.  One gets cut/paste (scissors, glue) onto a 4x6 card, the other gets 3-Hole punched and goes into a notebook.  This way I have two back up copies of the dance: one electronic and one in the binder.  I’ve tried printing the dance directly on a 4x6 card, but I went back to doing it this way.
  If I get the dance straight from the author, I may just hand write it on a card
. But then I don’t have the back up copies.
  Some of my notes on the typed card are also hand written
 each color ink indicates:  Green written note = teaching (walk thru); Red = Who, the person; Becket’s get “BECKET” written in pink above the A1, AND the black text “BECKET” highlighted in pink.  Double progressions, get highlighted in orange.  (the word “Dble Prog”)
 Yellow highlight in the dance is something I need to pay attention to.  A circle with a dot in it, means this is where the dancers often need prompted when I stop calling, depending on the dance level.
  At the moment, I put my cards in alphabetical order in a box, not sure if I’m going to stay with this method.  Am also working on a corresponding excel spreadsheet that lists the figures.
  For future dance planning, my mind is usually thinking 1 – 3 months ahead and as I find dances that I want to call at a particular community, I write it down on a 4x6 card with the community name at the top, or sometimes it’s several post it notes here and there
.  By the time I sit down to program for an evening, (ideally but not always, 3 – 5 days ahead of the dance) I usually have a few dances that I’d like to build the evening around for that community.
   Hope that helps, some part is useful, or you may be sorry you asked!  You’ll fall into your own discipline that works best for you, then keep adapting it as needed.
  Keep us posted!
  Karen Fontana
  PS: yes, I really do this, crazy but true,... ask to see my cards next time we meet up!

Will <mainesail113 at yahoo.com> wrote:
  Hi All, 

After many years dancing, I decided to start calling
and recently completed Lisa Greenleaf's course at
Pinewoods, which was great-stupendous.

First of all, I want to thank all of you who have
shared of your experience and knowledge on this and
other sites so freely- your generosity is amazing and
is of great assistance.

As I begin to build a repertoire, I'm faced with how
to develop dance cards that work for me, and recording
systems for previous dance programs, event planning
aids etc.

Lisa shared what works for her, and I'd like to know
what systems works for other folks, it seems that each
person has found their own sorting/grouping structure
and recording systems-ie: grouping dances by
difficulty or prominant dance feature. I'd appreciate
feedback so I can choose among a range of
possibilities that might fit me best.

Thanks very much, Will Walton

I can also be reached at: mainesail113 atyahoodotcom

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  Karen Fontana 
karen_fontana at yahoo.com 
(H) 650-691-9663

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