[Callers] What makes a caller a great caller?

Richard Fischer richardallenfischer at verizon.net
Tue Apr 12 21:39:05 PDT 2011


I'd like to echo what Mac has said, and give an example. The late Culver Griffin once showed up unexpectedly at a contra dance I was leading, with a mixed crowd including some adults and children new to dancing. I asked if he would call a dance and he began teaching a square, including a grand square figure. Hmm, I said to myself, I wouldn't have chose grand square, would take me too long to teach and I'd only expect a 50% success rate. Culver, however, took very little time to teach it, and had a 100% success rate. What was his teaching secret?  As far as I could tell, his confident, cheerful and authoritative voice, and that mysterious creation of trust and communication of character that removed all doubt and hesitancy from the dancers.  Definitely something for me to aspire to!

Richard

On Apr 12, 2011, at 7:31 PM, Richard Mckeever wrote:

> 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.
> 
> Mac
> 
> 
> 
> 
> ________________________________
> 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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>> 
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