[Callers] "Hands Four From the Top" Instruction

Amy Cann acann at putneyschool.org
Wed Dec 1 19:29:26 PST 2010

I tell them --

(at the beginning of dance:) *Ones get ready to be Ones* by switching.

To everyone else: when you reach the top and become a new One, switch *then*

To old Ones: when you reach the bottom and become a two, *UNswitch*.

Slightly different thought process; seems to work.

Basically, though, it's regional -- high proportion of regulars? They'll
take care of it.
High proportion of day-trippers? You prob. should nudge a little.

On Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 9:14 PM, Greg McKenzie <gregmck at earthlink.net> wrote:

> Contrary to the action of switching at the ends of the set, this
> instruction is a part of set management.  In fact it also helps to manage
> the focus of the dancers.
> I always give out set formation instructions.  In addition to forming the
> sets properly these instructions give important cues to the dancers to help
> them gracefully transition from conversations in the set into listing to
> instructions during the walk-through.  Ending a conversation politely and
> graciously takes time.  The instruction of "Please take hands in groups of
> four from the top," gives the dancers a cue that the caller will soon be
> moving into the walk-through phase of the slot.  I try to allow about 20
> seconds or so for the hands four to propagate to the bottom of the line.
>  Then I say "Number ones please cross over," if appropriate.  I say this
> even if ALL of the dancers have crossed over already.  This command tells
> the dancers that the walk-through instructions will begin very shortly and
> that they must quickly finish their story or anecdote and begin listening.
> These cues, given clearly and not too loudly, will set a tone of politeness
> and consideration.  I much prefer this to callers who use the volume of the
> PA system to interrupt conversations on the floor.  People will quickly
> learn the "drill" and will respond by helping the caller to make a smooth
> transition.  This approach also lowers the volume level in the room and
> builds a cooperative relationship with the caller.
> Another thought,
> Greg
> ***********
> At 04:55 PM 12/1/2010, Richard wrote:
>> And a related question: when will callers stop saying "Hands four from the
>> top, number ones cross over"--in acknowledgement that improper formation is
>> the default for modern contras?  I'm curious how many callers have already
>> stopped saying that. Or to put the question another way, in how many dance
>> communities do dancers line up inproper and not expect a reminder to "cross
>> over" and be in improper formation?
>> Richard
>> On Dec 1, 2010, at 7:37 PM, Mark Widmer wrote:
>> > Hey, I was wondering what other callers thought about the following:
>> often, during the walkthrough of the 1st contra dance of the evening, the
>> caller explains that dancers should trade places with their partner whenever
>> they reach the end of the set
>> >
>> > However, I never do this, and have never had a problem as a result --
>> the experienced dancers in the set, apparently, are able to get the new
>> dancers to do this, and nobody has ever complained to me that I didn't
>> instruct dancers to switch
>> >
>> > I have wondered what others thought about this -- my own thinking is why
>> take time to explain something when it isn't necessary?
>> >
>> > Regards,
>> >
>> > Mark Widmer / central NJ
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
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