[Callers] Hello and a few questions...

lynn ackerson callynn1 at pacbell.net
Fri Dec 2 11:41:46 PST 2011

Congratulations Don! 

I don't have a set routine when things fall apart. I may just tell them to take 
hands 4 from the top and wait until the top of the music comes around. If the 
dance has been running for a while, just say "Find your partner and swing" as 
you cue out the band with a raised foot. Then have a "go to" dance ready for the 

next one - one you know cold that works 99% of the time (like Nice Combination 
or Al's Safeway Produce). It restores everyone's confidence. Even a simple dance 

can be fun if the band plays a very lively tune. It's good to get the signals 
worked out with the band ahead of time. Typical ones are faster (palm facing and 

pushing up); slower (palm facing and pushing down); going out at the end of this 

phrase (the raised foot). Find out which of the band members can talk while 
they're playing. Not all musicians can. This is the one you can ask when you 
don't know where you are in the music. And if there's a clear musician in charge 

of keeping the rhythm, I've walked up to them during a tune and called out "I 
can't hear the phrasing" - hoping they'll make it clearer. If you have a few 
"ringers" in the room, they may be good to cue off of  - assuming they're almost 

always in the right place at the right time. Also ask the band how much notice 
they want before the end of the dance: 1, 2, or 3 times and then count it down 
instead of assuming they can keep track. 

I've only heard you call a couple of times, but both times you've been very 
clear and at least sounded confident. You'll do great, and it's about time you 
did more calling. Good luck. I look forward to getting a full report.

----- Original Message ----
From: Don Veino <sharedweight_net at veino.com>
To: callers at sharedweight.net
Sent: Thu, December 1, 2011 10:20:18 PM
Subject: [Callers] Hello and a few questions...

Hi Folks,

Brand new to the list. I'm one of the organizers for the MondayContras
series at the Concord, MA Scout House and have been an avid dancer for just
over 4 years now. Hi to those I already know and to those of you I'll get
to know from here!

I've been an occasional caller for dances on shared evening programs and
camper nights, etc. but have my first full evening coming up later this
month, which I'm excited about. This is for a smaller regional dance that
attracts a mixed crowd of mostly periodic dancers. I've done some basic
"how to call" workshops at festivals, etc. but have not taken a formal
caller's course.

I'm planning to tailor my dance selection to the expected crowd and build
in some flexibility to address variability. I'm pretty confident in my
dance selection skills but I'm definitely still counting my way through the
music to call. So one concern is with making sure I stay firmly anchored to
the music, without depending upon the crowd for cues. I craft my calls to
fit the phrasing and rehearse with music to get confident but dance
breakdowns are a fear. I've come close a couple of times early on but have
been able to set things right somehow on the fly... however, I was not very
confident doing so at the time.

So with that concern, a couple of related questions:
- Do you have practiced recovery routines (more than just "get home and
swing your partner")? Is that common? Or do most callers just make it up on
the spot?
- In working with the musicians, are there any customary "I've lost track,
where are we in the music?" signals?

I look forward to learning from the shared wisdom of the group here and am
open to any other tips you may have.

Callers mailing list
Callers at sharedweight.net

More information about the Callers mailing list