[Callers] Becket Formation

Neal Schlein via Callers callers at lists.sharedweight.net
Fri Dec 11 09:23:39 PST 2015

*Fair disclaimer: *To say again, not everyone finds what I'm describing
below to be a problem; one caller I know and respect really likes it.  I
grew up with folks who do high-precision and high-energy performance square
and folk dancing, so I'm a bit more sensitive to stylistic and timing
discrepancies than others may be.  I prefer contras and contra tunes to be
crisply phrased, smooth, and tightly timed--almost like ECD.  Squares, on
the other hand, I like to see full of driving power and energy.

That said, I'm not sure my point about frequent "fudging" at the end of the
dance quite came across right--I don't mean the final time through, I mean
every time through.  Here's an example--it's not a good dance, just
something I'm writing down as an example based on the first time I
encountered the problem.

*Fudge the Position Sample Becket*
Author: Please don't credit me with this!
A1: Across the set, right and left thru.
Right and left back.
A2: Across the set circle left 3/4, neighbor swing on the side.
B1: ladies chain over and back.
B2: Circle left 3/4 and partner swing.  (Oooze/shift/fudge left)

At the end of the sequence, I'm right where I started; if I swing for 12
and face in, I'm needing to do a right and left thru on the *diagonal*, not
straight across.  The dance itself did not progress me, hence the need for
the fix at the end.  My options are to:

   - end the swing between 2 and 4 beats early (off phrase) and shift down,
   - end the swing on time, shift down at the start of the A1, and rush the
   - move down set while swinging with no fixed point of
   reference--something difficult for many dancers,
   - face the new two and do the first three figures on the angle, circling
   7/8 instead of 3/4...but because we're on a longer path of travel, we're
   going to have to rush, will likely be in other people's paths, and after
   the swing there's a good chance we STILL won't be lined up across the hall

By comparison, if I did the first right and left thru on the diagonal and
ended in straight lines facing a NEW couple to right and left thru with,
the dance actually progresses everyone with no need for a fix, and all the
figures all start and end with the phrase.  Yes, this particular dance
becomes a double progression in the process, but it would be less confusing
and flow better.

I hope that makes more sense.


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 Fri, Dec 11, 2015 at 10:21 AM, janet <janet at bertog.com> wrote:

> 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.
> Janet
> Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone
> -------- Original message --------
> From: Neal Schlein via Callers <callers at lists.sharedweight.net>
> Date: 12/10/2015 8:25 PM (GMT-05:00)
> To:
> 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 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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