[Callers] Programming on-the-fly

Keith Tuxhorn keithlmt at gmail.com
Mon Feb 10 10:05:13 PST 2014

Welcome to the tribe, Danielle! There are lots of good suggestions here,
including a very detailed approach from Sue that shows how personalized you
approach can be, according to the way you like to do things. I'll just
say/re-say thing in my way:

-Never marry yourself to your program. Not as a beginner, not if you've
called for 20 years. It's hard at the start because you simply don't have
enough knowledge, and enough dances in your box, to adjust very much. But
always be ready to make adjustments.

-Ask callers in your area for their favorite beginner dances. Keep those
handy in your box, so you can always find them to fall back on them.

-CDSS sells a good book called "Dances for Beginners" or something like
that. It has lots of simple dances. Buy that, and learn those.

-Remember the dance is never about you. It's about dancers going home
feeling happy and successful, and craving to come back to the next dance.
Please them, not yourself.

-We've all made bad choices at dances, and taught badly, and called badly.
You'll live through it. Laugh at yourself, don't take it too hard, just
remember to always think about what you can do better.

-You can't learn it all at once. Keep collecting dances,calling them, and
paying attention, and asking questions of lots of experienced callers. A
year from now, you will have "this level" down--and you'll have a whole new
level of things to think about!

Keith Tuxhorn
Austin, TX

On Mon, Feb 10, 2014 at 10:28 AM, Sue Robishaw <sue at manytracks.com> wrote:

> Hi,
>     I'm a fairly new caller as well and here are some thing that have
> helped me. I
> 1 - Have a master list of dances in rough order of difficulty so I can
> quickly go to the beginning, middle, or end for ideas on what to call
> depending on my dancers. I gave up on a formal "program" after the first
> couple of dances.
> 2 - Code the dances for type and mix them in the list (circle, contra,
> mixer, starting or main figure...) to help keep variety.
> 3 - Have different lists for3cpl, 4 cpl, 5-6, 7+ groupings (this probably
> won't pertain to you but where I am a hall full of dancers isn't likely!)
> 4 - Print out eight dances per side on paper (colored paper helps
> organize) in more or less the same order, easily folded and stuck in my
> belt pouch so I can quickly glance at a dance to jogg my memory. My dances
> are small and I'm on the floor and often dancing so quick and easy is
> important. The dances are also marked with 3, 4, etc cples tomake it easier
> to grab a right one.
> To have a "large" group of any kind would be a delight! Congratulations!
> But I've learned to enjoy 3 and 4 couple nights. Again this probably
> doesn't pertain to your situation but I've found it easier on me to rewrite
> the dances to suit different number of couples and have each one printed
> that way (unless it's a very simple change). I'm getting better at being
> able to do this on my feet, and have had to do so more than I like, but I
> like the security of having it written out, especially if I have a lot of
> new dancers to pay attention to. The same for changes that make a dance
> easier or harder. I really like dances that are easily adapted and can be
> used in a variety of situations.
> As others have noted, new dancers continually surprise me with what they
> can do (and can't) do. It depends on your dancers of course and the dance
> atmosphere, but I've found as long as we laugh and have a good time even
> the meltdowns can add to the evening. It's the fun that counts, not the
> dance.
>         Cheers from the snowy U.P. (of Michigan)
>         Sue Robishaw
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