[Callers] Becket Formation

janet via Callers callers at lists.sharedweight.net
Fri Dec 11 08:21:05 PST 2015

My first guess isbthatvthey were not overly familiar with what a Becket dance is. Recently I asked a person to dance who had been coming fairly frequently for a few weeks after the caller announced it was a Becket.  He was going to sit out because he didn't know what a Becket dance was.  Some callers don't say Becket,  they just say turn your circles one place to the left/right.  As the last dance of the evening,  I would hope the call didn't have anything too complex (a major programming flaw in my book).
To address comments in the email below ...
1. Diaganol figures ... Except maybe slice left to a new couple,  I can't think of much I would consider for a last dance. Last dances should be relatively simple so dancers can enjoy the music and the flow. 
2. Debecketize maneuver ... I find this slightly annoying when callers say "like all Becket dances" circle left and pass through. I hate more when they either skip that part entirely in the walk through or start it un Becketized and then tell you afterwards that it is Becket. If you don't teach the walk through the way the dance is actually danced, you very well could have confused newer dancers,  especially. 
Since he is unlikely to say anything himself,  I will point out that the "as with all Becket dances" comment was so annoying that Cary Ravitz once called an entire evening where none of the Becket dances have that progression ... None!  And as most of you probably know,  he writes a lot of Becket dances. 
Partner swings at the end of the dance. .. To me that is the number one reason to have a Becket dance,  especially as the last dance.  You get to end with your partner and the caller doesn't have to break the moment to fudge the end to make you end with your partner. That being said,  I do know a couple Beckets that do not end that way.  Cary's Autumn Air is a pretty easy Becket that does not end with a partner swing. 
3.  If callers fudge the end of a duple improper dance to make it end with your partner, it is generally their responsibility to make sure it works smoothly. Most choreographers do not include an alternate ending to suggest how to make this work, so it is on the caller to figure it out.   If poorly done, it can be really disappointing. 
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-------- Original message --------
From: Neal Schlein via Callers <callers at lists.sharedweight.net> 
Date: 12/10/2015  8:25 PM  (GMT-05:00) 
Cc: callers <callers at lists.sharedweight.net> 
Subject: Re: [Callers] Becket Formation 

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 selection.
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 choreography.Beak
Neal SchleinYouth 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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