[Callers] Card boxes and Dance ending

Beth Parkes ebay at hands4.com
Mon Jan 15 12:35:51 PST 2007

When a dance ends involves at least two things: 1. The dancers 2. The band.
1. Assuming you are calling at a "typical" modern contra dance, the dancers 
will dance without the caller after a few rounds. After they have done this 
for a while, there is a point at which the dancers will start making 
mistakes. The dance is getting close to the end at that point. (An observant 
caller will be watching for this and not asssume that once the dancers get 
going they can be ignored.) Try not to end when folks are having trouble: 
get them back on track, give them a couple more, and then go out. Note: this 
is not an overt breakdown, but just more folks forgetting where they should 
be or what comes next. It can be easy to miss from the stage.
2. The band will be working through a set of tunes and will be swapping 
leads and energy and will have a sense of what they want to do with a tune. 
I try to tap into that energy and end when it feels like the band is ready. 
Hard to explain, but definitely do-able. Also, it is not courteous to your 
musicians to end a dance if they have just switched tunes. Let them play any 
new tune at least three times. Often that means, if I am about to say "twice 
more" and I see them about to switch tunes, I will change it to four more 
(in my own mind...everyone knows that musicians can't count higher than "two 
more times" <BG>) and wait to go out.
When a dance ends will also vary with the dance itself. An imbalanced dance 
will need to have shorter sets but run longer than an everyone equal dance. 
A dance with everyone moving intensely will often want to run shorter than 
one that is a bit more relaxed.
A lot of this is pretty subtle. Calling is, after all, an art.

About keeping your dances, it probably doesn't matter a whole lot how you 
keep them, but I want to put in a vote for weeding out mediocre material 
once in a while.
I just have a pile of cards. There's no order except I do have them color 
coded for contra, squares and other. They get mixed up and sorted through 
many different ways. And the more that happens, the better for my choices. I 
don't keep cards for one-night-stand material. If a dance can't be 
remembered from the title only, it's too complicated for a one-night-stand.
Beth Parkes
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "David Giusti" <David.Giusti at oberlin.edu>
To: <callers at sharedweight.net>
Sent: Sunday, January 14, 2007 1:30 PM
Subject: [Callers] Card boxes and Dance ending

> Hello,
> So most callers have dance cards, and all dances have to be ended at
> some point.  I have my ways of doing it, of course, and I've asked a lot
> of callers about theirs, but haven't found anything I'm quite happy with.
> Basically, how do you organize your box of dance cards and why do you
> like it that way?
> And,
> How do you figure out when to end a dance?  Of course finish with all
> couples in, but how do you decide when it's about time to end it?
> Some callers simply set a timer, or count a number of times through, or
> end when couples have come back to where they started.  What do you do?
> Does anyone try to gauge the energy of the dancers on the floor and end
> when it seems right?

More information about the Callers mailing list