[Callers] Flow & Glide Contras

James Saxe jim.saxe at gmail.com
Wed Feb 5 11:07:49 PST 2014


John Sweeney asked for dances suitable for a session on "Flow & Glide
Contras."

One I'll suggest is "Joyride" by Erik Weberg.

     http://www.kluberg.com/eriksdances.html#Joyride (description)
     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwO9XRUBk9w (video)

A distinctive feature of the dance is a transition from a half
poussette into a hey.  This transition has delightful flow if
dancers are confident about where they're going, but it's unusual
enough to be a potential teaching challenge.

I've seen callers walk dancers through the half-poussette, ending
like this [top of set at top of screen]

M2>==<W2
W1>==<M1

and then struggle to describe how the couples interleave with
each other to get lined up across the set like this

W1> M2> <M1 <W2

with men facing each other in the middle and with women on the
outside facing their neighbors' backs, ready for the men to
start the hey.

Last year, I was at a dance weekend where Erik Weberg called
"Joyride", and I got to observe how he taught the transition
into the hey.  After walking us through the half poussette, he
told the women (who at that point had been backing up) to let
go of their partners and back up a couple more steps.  Then
he addressed the men something like this

     Men, face each other <very slight pause> and pass left
     shoulders to start half a hey ...

[Then he had men pass left shoulders one more time swing partner,
etc.]

Note how this approach avoids any need for an explicit description
of the configuration shown in the second diagram.

Note also that by taking a couple steps back, the women opened
ample space so that after the men passed each other, the men
didn't have to make an uncomfortably sharp change of direction
in order to weave into the right shoulder pass with their partners.

Finally, note that Erik taught the action of women backing away
as an integral part of the walk-through.  Contrast this with
what it would be like if a caller taught the transition in
some other way (so that the hey was more cramped during the
walk-through), got the dancers lined up ready for the music
to start, and then threw in a little lecture:

      Now, women, as you make the transition from the pousette
      into the hey, you can give the men an easier path if mrumph
      mrumph mrumph space mrumph mrumph mrumph cut between mruph
      mrumph mrumph ...

Here "mrumph, mrumph, mrumph" is what the caller might as well
be saying, considering that (1) some dancers will take standing
still and being lectured at as a cue to tune out and start
socializing, especially if they detect that the caller is going
off about some "style point"; (2) some dancers will have
difficulty hearing the caller over the surrounding talk, even
if they aren't directly involved in conversations; and (3) some
dancers just aren't very good at visualizing what callers mean
by this sort of description (talking about some action that the
dancers are not currently in position to do) even when the room
isn't noisy.

I think I probably would not have noticed the details of Erik's
teaching or appreciated it's beautiful simplicity if I hadn't
previously noticed some awkwardness in the way some other callers
taught this transition.  As it was, I knew during the walk-through
that we were coming up on something that I'd seen callers struggle
with, and I was primed to pay careful attention to how Erik handled
it.

--Jim




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