[Callers] Becket Formation

Neal Schlein via Callers callers at lists.sharedweight.net
Thu Dec 10 17:25:08 PST 2015

Actually, I can see this.

As others suggested, it is probably a matter of the couple's prior poor
experiences with dances in Beckets.  That said, there are two fairly common
tendencies in Becket formation choreography which are somewhat aggravating
and another which absolutely drives me up a wall.  Other callers and
dancers don't seem to mind so much, but were it possible I would completely
avoid the dances which have the last one.

1. The first tendency has to do with diagonal figures, even though I like
them myself.  They are often scrunched and uncomfortable, particularly
right and left throughs; people run into each other.  Add to this the
slight disorientation for someone not used to diagonal figures, and it can
be unpleasant.  In a nice open hall, they're perfectly fine.  Not a problem
so much with the formation as with the fact that everyone is in the middle
all at once and it's confusing.

2. The second is what I like to call the "DeBecketize Manuever."  How many
beckets start with, "Circle left 3/4 (and usually swing your neighbor" and
end with "Partner swing on the side!"  (answer: TOO MANY)  If all you are
going to do with the first move is take the dance out of Becket, it seems
like a cheap trick done just to make the dance "different."  Again, not an
inherent problem of the formation, just a problem of choreographic

3. The third choreographic tendency is often tied to dances which feature
swings at the end of the dance: *partial or non progression*.    This
problem, unlike the others, is actually made possible because of the
formation: such a difficulty isn't possible in a regular duple minor, and
it drives me absolutely NUTS.  I have experienced a number of dances in
which the caller instructs the dancers to "fudge" or "maneuver" or "sludge"
or some such to make the dance work.  The contra doesn't actually progress
the couples down the line, but leaves them 1/2 progressed or
non-progressed--usually swinging partners on the outside, but not always.
Sliding up the outside from a circle is one thing; swinging on the outside
and fudging down the hall is another.

The annoyance of a non-progression can be mitigated if the caller teaches
it well (end facing across, look left and...), but to me the partial
progression problem always jars and simply seems to be excessively lazy

Neal Schlein
Youth Services Librarian, Mahomet Public Library

Currently reading: *The Different Girl* by Gordon Dahlquist
Currently learning: How to set up an automated email system.

On Thu, Dec 10, 2015 at 6:26 PM, John W Gintell via Callers <
callers at lists.sharedweight.net> wrote:

> My favorite progression requires Becket  formation: circle left and then
> slide up/down and circle with the next pair.
> > On Dec 10, 2015, at 6:43 PM, Greg Allan via Callers <
> callers at lists.sharedweight.net> wrote:
> >
> > Hi,
> >
> > That is a somewhat familiar story from my point of view. I dance in a
> number of different folk dancing communities - a varied program here in
> Winnipeg. It's quite common, as people from one group attempt to get
> interest from other dancing groups, that some people know what they like
> and what they don't like, and that's that. For example, people who English
> country dance often don't like contra because of the increased exertion and
> tempo. Personally, I'm not much of a fan of triple minor dances. Everyone's
> got their thing. But there's always a reason for it. It could be a bad
> experience, or it could be a stylistic feature of a region, where everyone
> does a figure in a way you find unpleasant. Hard to say. To leave an event
> because someone programmed something you didn't like? ... I'm not sure to
> make of it. You don't like it you don't like it, I suppose.
> >
> > We don't do Becket formation here at all, really. If someone left at the
> end of a night because of Becket formation, I would assume they didn't want
> to start learning new things late in the evening.
> >
> > Greg
> >
> >
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