[Callers] easy ONS dances where partner is kept? - report

Tina Fields tfields8 at yahoo.com
Thu Apr 28 20:56:35 PDT 2011

Beth said,
>>>"I "teach" people to listen to me during the first dance. I start with a  big 
>>>circle. I teach the group the following: Walk to the left, walk to  the right, 
>>>go into the center 3 steps, come back and do-si-do. After  that I start the 
>>>music and call hash of those. I also add promenade on  the fly during the 
>>>dancing. I once had a caller say to me "I would never  patronize a group by 
>>>teaching them circle left and circle right." But  he didn't really get the 
>>>point: I'm not teaching circle left and circle  right. The purpose of the first 
>>>dance of the evening is to teach them to  listen to the caller.  Since the 
>>>dance is hashed, they never  know what is coming and they must listen. Saying 
>>>"listen" doesn't work,  you teach them to listen with your voice. Making them 
>>>listen is the key.  If you get them on board at the beginning the evening 
>>>everything else  will go well."<<<<SNIP more good stuff 

Yes, I agree completely - and that's what I did. By saying I began with a "hash 
circle dance" I meant something very similar to your method: we did circle L, R, 
into the middle w/ a shout, do-si-dos w/N & P, plus allemande and swing, with 
variations. And they were into it. But still, a few dances later, once the 
dancers had been walked through a dance and also done it a couple of times to 
the music, one line got off & it was clear that they weren't hearing my prompts 
(due to sound glitches), or weren't heeding them if they did hear them. Their 
excitement fed their cheerful chattering, so that was  overall an okay thing - 
after all, who wants a deathly silent barn  dance? (Yeah, Beth, I'm with you 
about the 'tude!) So I didn't know what to do besides keep calling and go over 
there to physically prompt some big group moves like "head gent leads gents 
single file around the line of ladies now" as well, which I did. 

Their being off, plus talking a lot, plus the sound weakness is what made me 
think that it would have been a good idea, when I taught the next one, to 
overtly mention the importance of continuing to listen to the caller. (I don't 
know, though, as I didn't think of that till the dance was over.) 

Would you do something else in this case?  Writing this after musing over your 
commentary, I think now maybe I should have initially hash-called more over the 
music in real time. I did it fully w/o music and a couple of times through with, 
but didn't do it long up to tempo, so maybe some of the dancers got the idea 
that once the music started, they were on their own. Hm. Thoughts, ideas, more 
strategies welcome. These little things can really affect a dance!

David M. then brought up the shrewd strategy of not letting ONS dancers sit down 
(meaning they might stay away forever). Again, I agree - I've experienced that 
too, and am totally on board with the plan to continually "dance for 45 minutes 
before they cut the cake". Yet in this case, even though I held that intent 
(albeit with two planned halves as the organizers wanted 1.5 hours of dancing), 
a couple of times the dads bolted for the cool drinks in the kitchen as soon as 
a dance stopped! So I just let it go with their flow, then called them back for 
another dance after a little while when their faces seemed less red again. :-> 
And they came. Their daughters did need to earn their badges, after all.  

Given that behavior, would you do something different? If so, what?

Beth, also thanks for the tip about Marian Rose's books. 


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