[Callers] The Beginners' Lesson Tips?

Donald Primrose limerickfarm at gmail.com
Mon Oct 3 05:35:00 PDT 2011

Not a fan of lessons prior to a dance (although the best pre-dance is
done by Steve Zakon-Anderson).  My first dance with a large crowd of
beginners is a circle mixer.  A great dance to use is "Cabot School
Mixer" by Ted Sannella. It quickly.. and forgivingly introduces the
new dancer to several calls as well as the importance of the music.

 I particularly like mixing everyone together at the start of the
night.. I also ask that at the end of the mixer.. you ask whomever you
ended with to dance the next dance.  Thus new dancers and experienced
learn from each other.  In a circle dance you can also have a lost and
found (displaced dancers) in the center to get back into the dance.

In the summer the Nelson dance will have thirty or more new dancers
every week.. The circle works well.. and having a great local dance
community willing to ask a new face to dance is a blessing.

Don Primrose

On 10/3/11, Richard Hart <richhart49 at gmail.com> wrote:
> There are a lot of good suggestions for a beginner's workshop here, already,
> but I'll add my 2 cents, anyway.
> When I do a beginners workshop before a dance, I like to focus on key
> concepts and actions, rather than particular calls:
> 1. Line up and pay attention to the lines. If you are not in line with the
> others, you may be in someone's way.
> 2. Proper & improper formations.
> 3. Progression: After each repetition of a dance, you dance with the next
> couple..
> 4. Lady on the right.
> 5. Courtesy turns: they're part of a number of different calls.
> 6. Giving weight with your arms and hands.
> 7. The swing.
> 8. Respect for other dancers (who may not move as quickly, or who may be
> injured, or disabled in some way, or who may be a beginner who needs a bit
> of direction)
> That's already a lot to cover. I'd leave out the swing, if there was not
> enough time, especially if there will be a lot of experienced dancers at the
> dance to do that. The calls can all be explained during the walk throughs,
> reinforcing and using what was presented earlier during the beginners
> workshop. One problem that all beginners experience is figuring our where
> they should be and what direction they should face. I try to help them
> figure that out both during the beginner workshop and also when doing the
> walk through, and even when calling the dance.
> On Sun, Oct 2, 2011 at 3:16 PM, D Bar <davey.bar at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Howdy,
>> I am going to be calling one of my first gigged contra dances in a week! I
>> have a half-hour to introduce newbies on what's what in the dance prior
>> and
>> I am wondering what do other callers find has been the most effective use
>> of
>> that half hour?
>> I imagine going over improper formation [ladies on the right etc.], and a
>> few of the base moves are good. But I'd like to see if anyone else has
>> some
>> good hints I can work with!
>> Thanks,
>> Davey
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