[Callers] Walk-throughs

Dan Pearl daniel_pearl at yahoo.com
Sun May 2 12:19:39 PDT 2010

I just led a session on conducting walk-throughs at NEFFA, so the topic is fresh on my mind.  (BTW if anyone wants a copy of the handout from that session, drop me a line, and I'll send you a pdf.)

I have a hard-and-fast rule about walk-throughs: "There are no hard and fast rules."  The number of walk-throughs depends on a zillion factors, so I usually make the decision about another walk-through at the end of the first walk through.  But because I'm a big-city-slicker from the East Coast, my goal is usually one walk through. Why?
1) I like the pace of the evening to be at a reasonable clip. Extra walk-throughs tend to slow the evening down, in my opinion.
2) I want to train the dancers to pay attention the first time, and not rely on omnipresent subsequent walk-throughs.
3) I want to maintain my credibility by doing the right amount of teaching that a dance requires.
4) The level of the evening should be attainable by most, with just a few challenges. 
5) I think the dancers want to dance.

Exceptions?  Sure! Here are some:
a) Monthly dance, lots of new dancers? Two walk-throughs (especially 1st half of the evening). This is where I explain about "out at the ends".  I might go to one walk-through later in the evening.
b) Experienced crowd?  Maybe no walk-through. [Actually, a real-time walk-through with music, if you get my drift]
c) Triple Minor dance? Two walk-throughs. (so the 2's and 3's can experience the "other" role).

Decision Time: Do another one?
LISTEN to the crowd at the end of walkthrough 1 and differentiate between friendly chit-chat sounds, and worried murmurs of people asking each other what to do. 

I would recommend to all callers that have tried one walk-through with little success to
a) Examine the material you have chosen.  Is it reasonable dance material, or challenging, unorthodox, etc.?
b) Record yourself and analyze later whether the words you chose were the best ones to get the dancers to do what you wanted.  If not, figure out better ones.  In my mind, better = shorter, less ambiguous, more memorable, etc.

Happy dancing!

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