[Callers] Planning for Medleys

Jack Mitchell jamitch3 at mindspring.com
Tue Jan 30 19:24:19 PST 2007


Here goes:

First off, keep your band and dancers happy -- don't call a medley as 
the last dance.  The dancer are brain dead by that point, and the 
band wants to be able to place knock-em-dead tunes (which no one will 
hear if the caller has to call for the whole dance.

Otherwise, here are my guidelines for medleys:

1) Know your dances!!  Know where folks should be, who they should be 
with and where they should be going.  You may need to toss additional 
information into your calls if you see a particular problem.  You 
need to be able to do that concisely and without thinking about 
it.  (This is also another vote for simple dances for medleys)

2) Figure out the dances that you are going to use for the medley and 
(unless you are at a dance weekend or otherwise somewhere that 
everyone is experienced) make sure that you've done a dance that 
includes each of the moves that you plan to use in the medley.  If 
you want to use petronellas in the medley, make sure you've called a 
dance with 'em at least once earlier in the evening.  Even so, it's 
still good to stick to nice, simple (but good) brainless dances that 
don't make the dancers try to think.  (Unless you're Robert Cromartie 
at a dance weekend, where he once called Contra Corners in the 2nd 
dance of a 3 dance medley -- don't try this at home, he's a professional ;-) )

3) Unless you're very careful and *very good* don't have two of the 
dances have the same (or similar sounding) first calls.  (ie. First 
dance starts with Balance and Swing, 2nd dance with Do Si Do, third 
with B&S).  Also be wary of dances that have the same series of three 
figures -- it's easy for dancers to revert to the previous dance if 
they're too similar and not thinking on their feet -- had that happen 
recently at an advance dance.  Two dances had the same set of figures 
in the middle, and people kept wanting to follow them with the figure 
from the first dance rather than the one we were on.

4) Communicate with the band.  Is the band going to change tunes with 
you?  If so, work out the communication from the start.  What sort of 
signal does the band want?  Remember, that you want to change dances 
when the couple at the head of the set is going back IN, not when 
they're coming OUT -- that way everyone gets to dance the first time 
through the new dance.  That means that you signal the band for 1 
more time as a couple is coming OUT at the top of the hall.  Also, 
you're going to do the first two dances an odd number of times, and 
the last dance an even number of times (to get the couple at the top 
back in for the last time through the dance).  ie. 1st and 2nd dances 
5 times, 3rd dance 6 times.

5) As you're choosing your calls and dances look out for things that 
you wouldn't normally have to call, but you have to call -- and even 
emphacize -- in a medley.  Have you change neighbors?  Then the call 
needs to be "NEW NEIGHBORS circle left"  or "WITH THE NEXT balance 
and swing"  Is it unclear whether you have changed 
neighbors?  Ambiguity is NOT your friend.  If it's ambiguous, find a 
way to make it clear.

Say it's two stars in a row -- are you progressing or not?  The 
difference between:

Left hands in for a left hand star
Right hands in for a right hand star

Left hands in for a left hand star
SAME FOUR right hand star

and

Left hands in for a left hand star
WITH THE NEXT right hand star

Is really important!!


So....that's a little more longwinded than I meant to be, but I think 
it's said most of what I wanted to say.  Almost all of the above 
rules have resulted from (mainly) me screwing up and realizing -- 
"Hey that didn't work so well -- I should do that differently!! -- or 
(less frequently) from seeing something happen to another caller.  I 
hope that they help.  Feedback from other experienced callers would 
be welcome!!

Jack Mitchell
Durham, NC


At 09:26 PM 1/30/2007, you wrote:
>Hi gang,
>
>So we're planning for a medley and I had a concern that perhaps
>people were aiming too high. So I wrote:
>
> > As you're thinking about dances for a medley, keep in mind that
> > there will be no walk-through so you  have to plan for the
> > excellent words you will use (taking up no more than 8 beats of
> > music) for the more complex calls. We shouldn't be late with a
> > single call during a medley, since (IMHO) that takes all the fun
> > out of dancing the medley.
>
>In response, I heard back that I'd only succeeded in frightening
>callers out of their wits (an exaggeration, but you get the point).
>
>My response:
> > there's an easy answer: call dances that you know inside out,
> > forwards and backwards. The medley is not a time to show off fancy
> > dances. All we need are good dances that flow.
> >
> > You can also practice by trying out your selected dances over the
> > next couple of months. If appropriate for your dancers, try calling
> > it no walk-through. If you can't do that, then try to use all the
> > words you'd need during the first time or two through the dance.
> >
> > I'm not saying it's impossible to call hard dances, but iit takes a
> > lot of preparation to be able to call dances with non-standard
> > moves and we do the dancers a huge disservice if we screw up.
> >
> > So pick dances that you love and that you feel comfortable about
> > calling, and then practice practice practice.
>
>
>
>Am I being too judgmental? BTW, it's not NEFFA that we're planning
>for, so we can't assume that every dancer knows every possible move.
>And please share any other tips you have for planning medleys.
>
>Thanks,
>Lisa
>
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