The term "yearn" was coined by the late George Walker of
Seattle for a double-progression move. You and your partner
advance diagonally toward one set of new neighbors, then
fall back on the the other diagonal to end facing a second
set of new neighbors. The explanation for the name is that
you "yearn" to dance with the first set of new neighbors, but
you don't get to (unless of course the dance also includes
some other move the causes a reverse progression). See
(As a aside, some folks might be interested in this article
written 20 years ago in memory of George.)
I believe that the term "slice" was coined by Bob Isaacs,
and that he used it to refer to the single-progression figure,
where you go diagonally forward to meet new neighbors and
then fall straight back. George's "yearn" would be identical
to what Bob would describe as a "double slice".
That said, I agree with John Sweeney that one ought not assume
that all dancers, or all other callers, will have a consistent
understanding of these terms.
And now here's a question in a subject dear to my heart, namely
terminology in teaching: During a walk through, how do you
describe the backing-up portion of a yearn (or double slice)?
It's pretty clear what it means to go forward "on the left
diagonal"--at least if you make sure that dancers start out
facing across the set. But when you talk about backing up, I
think that dancers can plausibly decide to make either the
words "left diagonal" or "right diagonal" mean whichever
diagonal they want. One approach would be to avoid using
either of those terms, for example by telling the dancers
to "continue moving to the left as you back out" (note John
Sweeney's use of those exact words in his message quoted below).
Perhaps some of you have other suggestions.
Note that I'm asking here about words that would be effective
in a situation where most of the dancers are unfamiliar with
the yearn/double-slice action. (A similar issue about backing
up on a diagonal arises, by the way, in teaching a ricochet
[a/k/a push-back] hey if that figure is new to most dancers
present.) When you're "teaching" something that most of the
dancers already know, you can often get away with a lot of
imprecision and ambiguity.
Interestingly (to me, anyway), pretty much all dancers seem to
understand what callers mean when they say to go "straight back"
while teaching a (single-progression) slice, even though it's
technically ambiguous. (Diagonal lines can, after all, be
On Dec 27, 2016, at 2:43 PM, John Sweeney via Callers
Richard Hopkins asked, "What is 'slice'?
And is it different from 'yearn'?"
I think most people use Slice and Yearn to mean the same thing:
As a couple move forward diagonally to face the next couple (default is
usually to the left); high-five them with your spare hands (not the one you
are using to hold your partner's hand) while turning to face them across the
set; fall back (push away) to your progressed positions facing them.
There is also a Double Slice, i.e. forward to the left diagonal couple and
continue moving to the left as you back out to face the next couple (double
And Bob Isaacs introduced Half a Slice (in the dance of the same name): "As
a couple, go forward towards each other on the diagonal. The top two
dancers join hands; the bottom two push off to make a line of four facing
down. This is an efficient way to get everyone progressed and facing down
in 8 beats, so there is time for creative or dramatic push-offs."
Some people sometimes use one term to mean single progression and the other
to mean double progression, but I don't believe there is any universal
agreement, so it is always best to write or teach exactly which one you
I like Yearn as it implies more interaction with the couple you are