This dance at MIT with a variety of callers was interesting and
presented many decisions for newer callers dealing with newer dances.
Chris, Seth, and others called for a special dance set up to give them
practice a while ago. It was a fun dance, and gave them practice, but
most (all) of the dancers were experienced to very experienced. In
that sense it didn't really matter how the walkthru went because we
(the dancers) were going to be very forgiving and we were going dance
and have fun no matter what. Same goes for the prompts. With
experienced dancers, early, late, missing, and even wrong prompts are
unlikely to be a large disaster.
When I was learning to call (MW squares) I found it hard to pretend to
teach dancers who already know how to do a Ladies Chain how to do a
Ladies Chain (just so I get the practice). In other words it is hard
for me to teach someone something that we both know they already know.
However, you need to be able to do that. One of the dances on Tuesday
had a full Hey. This is a tough figure to teach. What words are you
going to use? Better than that, what dance are you going to use and
what call leads into the Hey and what call ends the Hey.
In my experience, a single caller who can build an evening would have a
dance in the beginning that has a 1/2 Hey. The call that leads in to
the Hey should make it easy to get started. I am thinking of Ladies
Chain (but I don't call contras). By making it 1/2 Hey and better yet,
ending with your partner for a B&S, you remove most of the problem
areas and give people a chance to recover.
The Tuesday dance did not have this building effect in which certain
calls were introduced gradually throughout the evening. I think this
is real important when there are lots of new people at the dance.
Tuesday would have been a great chance to practice this. We (the
dancers) survived the triplet, but it had some tight timing and was
confusing for new dancers. Also, what they learned in the triplet
didn't really carry over into the rest of the dances (which were duple
minor contras). I want the first and second dances of the evening to
hook the new dancers and let them know that they _can_ do this and that
it isn't too complicated.
Just to beat on the Hey dance (Flirtation Reel) one last time, it has a
down the hall, turn alone, come back up, and face your neighbor. This
is a hard thing to do. It is not a normal entrance into a Hey. Then
we do a full Hey. Some Heys are easy to give hinge because the boys
pas in the center with each other. This Hey has mixed sexes passing so
you can't use that to help. Also, this Hey ends with your neighbor.
Finding your partner is easier than finding your neighbor. With a
dance that has a full Hey that starts and ends with the partner you can
tell the new dancers that if all else fails, get back here and swing
I found the dance to be a success. We had great music. The new people
mostly stayed and danced the whole time. There were enough experienced
dancers to hold things together. This was a good crowd for this
particular MIT dance series. Let's hope they come back.
Clark Baker, Belmont, MA