[Callers] Modern Western Square Dance for Contra Dancers

Jeremy Child via Callers callers at lists.sharedweight.net
Sun Mar 19 11:28:34 PDT 2017

Thanks Rich and Tom for your good words of advice.

I should perhaps explain what I'm trying to do.  The idea is not to create
dancers ready to graduate (obviously), nor even to get them part way down
the road.  The aim is to give contra dancers a feel for what square dancing
is like at its best.  The flow. the satisfaction of meeting the caller's
challenge, the surprise of the resolution.  To do this dancers do not need
to have moves ingrained into them, but to have enough that with additional
cues and aide memoires, and assistance from angels, they don't break down
(or noticeably slow down).

My target is all the Mainstream moves, excluding Allemand Thar and related
plus a few outliers like Zoom.  I will be teaching them in structured
sections (NOT the same as the recommended teaching order), so if I don't
get through them all then that's fine.

I have tested this approach already, with one contra dancer with no MWSD
experience, four angels and three relatively poor MS dancers.  We managed
to get through the entire program (excluding Thar etc) in just over an
hour, and had 30 minutes fun dancing.

It's still a big ask, but there are many things that can be done to help.
There's nothing wrong with calling "Wheel & Deal, that's Left hand couple
step forward, everyone pivot round the inside person" which can be done
quickly enough to maintain the flow.

I perhaps have an advantage doing it in the UK.  With all due respect to
all the wonderful American contra dancers I have met, danced with and
called for, UK contra dancers are far more used to dancing patter squares,
and to the various formations that are found in MWSD.

Finally, yes Tom you have identified my biggest concern.  Despite the
workshop being marked as advanced, and the requirements clearly specifying
the dance experience necessary, you can guarantee that someone will turn up
who is so bad that they will mess an entire square up.    That is, however,
little different from what I at times encounter at club nights, and there
are numerous ways of dealing with it.

I'll let you know how I get on!

Kindest regards

On 19 March 2017 at 15:06, Tom Hinds via Callers <
callers at lists.sharedweight.net> wrote:

> I attempted to call modern western at Pinewoods and then latter Buff. Gap
> (in the early 90s).  Unfortunately there was always one person that wasn't
> up for it.  One person in each class had a very hard time learning the new
> moves while the rest of the class had no difficulty at all.
> So I had to drastically change my plan and expectations.
> Tom
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