[Callers] Putting Out Fires

Alan Winston - SSRL Central Computing winston at slac.stanford.edu
Mon Apr 12 13:06:38 PDT 2010

Jo wrote:

> I'd love to hear from some of you, about how (and when?) to fix contra
> lines that have broken down.  What are your favorite strategies?

> If one line has broken down, it's easy to stop the music, do one more
> walk through, and start up again.  Even with two lines this can work
> pretty well.  And you don't even have to stop the music - I've seen
> callers get everyone organized and improper again (or whatever
> formation), while the music is still going.

> What if there are three or more lines and one doesn't work?

> Do you ever go to a different dance?  Do you keep trying with the
> current one?

It depends.

Has the dance run long enough that you can just call it done and move on to the
next thing?  If so, good, do that.  Sometimes dancers zoning out and screwing
up is a sign the dance has run long enough already.

Why did it break down?  Is it because two couples who didn't really get it were
brought together by progression and are now scrambled (in which case you just
need to get them moved on to the next couples who do get it - which you
probably want to do from the floor rather than over the mic, because it
confuses everybody else, and also because they may not be able to process your
verbal input) or because the floor really doesn't have it?  If it's the whole
room, you need to assess what the problem is - is there some tricky bit that
isn't happening; did you call the dance wrong? - then another walkthrough may
do the trick.  If you've gotten the wrong sequence into their bones, then drop
it and move on.

If you do do another walkthrough, it's a good time to emphasize the simple
recovery procedure of progressing one place and waiting for the music to come
around again (unless, of course, it's one of those action-outside-the-set
dances, which may be more complicated).

Sometimes the first time through is really rocky, but by the second time
through the floor has it - you don't win anything by stopping and doing another
whole walkthrough in those cases.

Alan Winston
SF Bay Area

 Disclaimer: I speak only for myself, not SLAC or SSRL   Phone:  650/926-3056
 Paper mail to: SSRL -- SLAC BIN 99, 2575 Sand Hill Rd, Menlo Park CA   94025

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