[Callers] Japan dance and self intro/update

Amy Cann ACann at putneyschool.org
Tue Oct 2 23:12:16 PDT 2007

I've done a LOT of calling to non-English groups, and I LOVE it. It has
forced me to examine my assumptions/techniques like nothing else. Here's a
few things no one else has covered yet, I think.

Something to think about: dance terms like "hey" and "chain" are foriegn
to us until we connect them to their concepts. They're sometimes even
HARDER for us, since we have to unhook what we THINK they mean first. We
all start out as non-native speakers.

So if you want to do contras, go for it - they are entirely possible.

I've called:

* entirely non-verbal dances for Bosnian refugees -- taught everything by
acting it out.

* entirely verbal dances, stuck behind the mike with no hope of getting on
the floor, for two hundred people, in French, which I DON'T speak, except
for about twenty very useful words (see below).

* mixed verbal/demo dances for (LARGE) groups of 100% inexperienced
Russian orphans. ( I speak Russian with a good accent and execrable

* LOTS of dances for 100% inexperienced ESL students, speaking just 20
English words.

and done contras every time.
Here's what's makes it work.

-- Work up to them. Possible order:

	1. An anywhere-on-the-floor dance, to learn about partners and neighbors
and stars and circles.
	2. Simple longways, like Galopede, to learn up/down and lines
	3. Circle dance (keep-your-partner type) 
	4. "Harder" longways, usually one with a strip-the-willow
	5. Circle mixer
	6. Contra - BUT: one with progression but NO GENDER or CROSSOVER issues.

--Teach a group of four volunteers ahead of time so they can demonstrate!

-- Get everyone TALKING. 

	You say: "Circle left"
	Your demonstrators take hands and say "circle", then say "left" as they
start to move.
	EVERYONE says "Circle left!" AS THEY DO IT.

The verbal learners will store things much faster, the call-and-response
will help the group to gel --and will be comforting to many --  since it
feels like"school", it takes the focus off of the partner relationships
and makes it more about learning the dance.

--Boil your cues down to the essential words - you can call a LOT of good
basic dances with only
 	"partner, neighbor, up, down, left, right, under, over, line, star,
dosido, and swing."
(If you need more words than that, rethink your dances.)

Remember: WE need lots of words, like "right hand allemande three
quarters" because we know that hands and allemandes can do many things. We
need help choosing. THIS group has only ever done THIS dance, so "right
hand" will work just fine as a memory cue.

And who says you have to use the usual terms anyway?
MANY people know how to count, why not say "1 2 3 4" for "long lines into
the center" -- 
and maybe "4 3 2 1" for going back!

-- Finally, use your voice - shape the words with drama, and KEEP THE WAY
YOU SAY EACH MOVE consistant.
Example: always say "Do-si-Do" with a good clipped emphasis, or say
"SWWWINNG!" with a gleeful flip -- the dancers will respond to the musical
shape of your voice even if the words don't get through.

Good luck - and if you're going to buy books, be sure to get Marion Rose's
Step Lively collections, they are the closest thing to perfect I've EVER
encountered. EVERY dance WORKS.

If you get her first two and the N.E. Dancing Master's first two, you are
set for life.


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