[Callers] What makes a caller a great caller?

Richard Mckeever macmck at ymail.com
Tue Apr 12 16:31:04 PDT 2011

Can I offer another 2 cents worth?

Every notice how when we have one of the great callers - the dancers listen to 
every words and follow the directions more readily?  That is not an accident - 
but a real skill.  Everything they say is important - even if they are just 
thanking the sound guy.  They sound natural and sincere.  There is no idle chat 
or filler.  Confidence is very high.  Often you feel like they are talking 
directly to you 1-1.  This lets them 'get away' with shortened teaching 
intervals and more successful dances while complimenting and encouraging the 
dancers.  These callers just make me feel better.

Not sure how to make that happen - but pay attention next time you are 
privileged to dance to one of the top callers.

Example - one square I like to call is the Chinese Fan. I have not found an 
effective way to teach it and usually struggle through a couple tries until I 
think everyone has the basic idea.  I have listened to Kathy Anderson teach this 
several times (once I asked her to call the dance just so I could observe her 
teaching).  She gives a couple quick directions that would never work if I did 
it and suddenly everyone is ready to dance - and I still haven't figured it out.


From: Greg McKenzie <grekenzie at gmail.com>
To: Caller's discussion list <callers at sharedweight.net>
Sent: Mon, April 11, 2011 10:27:12 AM
Subject: Re: [Callers] What makes a caller a great caller?

What kind of calling?

You pose a good question.  The answer, however, depends on the kind of venue
being discussed.  I see at least three different calling venues that require
very different skills:

1. Gatherings of dance enthusiasts: Festivals, dance camps, and other
special events that are frequented almost entirely by dance enthusiasts.

2. Regularly scheduled open, public contra dances where first-timers are
encouraged to attend without separate training.

3. Private "barn dance" events where few, if any, of the participants are
dance enthusiasts.

A caller may be a "great" caller at one of these kinds of venues while being
a poor caller at another.  The criteria for "greatness" at each type of
venue are very different.

- Greg McKenzie


On Mon, Apr 11, 2011 at 1:13 AM, Will Kruse <sideways at wcrews.net> wrote:

> Hello from Seattle!  I'd love to hear your thoughts on what separates
> good callers from great callers?  Is it their selections of dances?
> That they call their own dances?  Their ability to compose an evening
> of dancing?  Their personal charm?  Their connection with the band?
> Their intimate knowledge of how the dance, the music, and the dancers
> all flow together?
> I'm especially interested to hear from dance organizers what they look
> for when they consider booking a caller?  I suspect this second
> question may have a separate answer from the first :-)
> Curiosity abounds as my mind begins to explore the calling space :-)
> Will "now, from Seattle!" Kruse
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