[Callers] calling squares

Suzanne Girardot suzanneg at wolfenet.com
Wed Apr 21 12:07:39 PDT 2010


Martha,

You've been given a lot of great advice, and there is always more to know about calling squares. One thing I have noticed lately is that, since fewer squares have been called at contra dances (at least in my community in Seattle), contra dancers have a harder time with the different spacial awareness that is required to dance in a square formation rather than a contra formation. I find that even some dances that I consider "simple" are not executed easily by contra dancers simply because the formation is new to them. 

All this is to say that you do not need to call a square dance that you consider complicated for it to be somewhat challenging for your dancers as they start to learn how to dance squares. Visiting couple square dances are fun and accessible, and not to difficult to learn to call. The timing can be forgiving, and as Tom mentioned, you can call in fours, starting on the 1 or the 5. 

One trick that has been adopted by a number of callers is to have a visiting couple figure danced by both head couples at the same time, which allows more people to be dancing at one time. So you would have couple 1 visit couple 2, and couple 3 visit couple 4, then the two head couples dance together, then couple 1 visits couple 4 and couple 3 visits couple 2. It tends to work well, and there is not much standing-around time.

There are certainly a number of visiting couple square dances that you can find on YouTube for some examples. A fellow in Tucson, Fred Feild, has put some easier visiting couple square dance videos up on YouTube and they might be some dances that you could start with. There are certainly lots of other resources available. I started with Sandy Brandley's recording "Potluck and Dance Tonight" which is unfortunately unavailable. It had the calls and music on the record (yes, "record") with the calls on an enclosed booklet. Calling along with Sandy was how I got used to the calls, as well as some of the timing.

Perhaps you can have a house dance with some friends to try this new skill out. At the very least, you'll have a fun party!  Hope this helps.

Suzanne Girardot
Seattle, WA

-----Original Message-----
>From: Tom Hinds <twhinds at earthlink.net>
>Sent: Apr 21, 2010 1:34 PM
>To: callers at sharedweight.net
>Subject: Re: [Callers] calling squares
>
>If you're going to start calling squares, Martha, I suggest you do  
>what is comfortable for you.  Unless of course this challenge is  
>like,  "how many beers can you drink", and you're a real risk taker.   
>I think that if you call contras, New England squares would be the  
>next logical type of square to call.
>
>No matter what kind of square you call, you should have (or develop)  
>good skills in watching the dancers.  That means no cards.  For  
>example, when you call an allemande left, grand right and left, you  
>should be able to follow a couple around the set.   While you are  
>calling a square you need to be constantly watching.  Your mind will  
>be working much harder calling a square than when calling a contra.
>
>If  you're interested in checking out the various styles of square  
>dancing, I suggest reading Ralph Sweet's book, Let's Create Old Tyme  
>Dancing.   Don't know if it's still in print.
>
>For many non New England squares, calling in fours is the way to go.   
>You can start on one or start on 5.  But I would suggest to be  
>prepared to abandon that from time to time as things happen on the  
>dance floor.
>
>Tom
>
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