Could you say more about the group you'll be calling for?
By a "... local community dance" do you mean that it's a
regular (e.g., monthly or weekly) series where most of the
attendees will be repeat dancers, thus somewhat experienced
at whatever kind of dancing the series features? Or is it
a one-time (or maybe annual) event with a preponderance of
of first-time or very infrequent dancers?
If it's a regular series, what's the usual program like?
* all squares (except maybe a last waltz and another
couple dance or two)?
* squares plus stuff like whole set dances (e.g.,
Virginia Reel?), circle mixers, and such?
* squares and contras?
* almost all contras (but for some reason they've
decide to have an evening of squares and inexplicably
picked a mainly-contra caller to lead it)?
Assuming it's a regular series where squares are the usual
bulk of the program and if you haven't attended it at least
occasionally, you might want to contact other callers who've
called there and/or the organizers and find out a little about
the usual repertoire and the likely dancer skill mix. Are
the dancers used to phrased New-England-style squares or to
more of a southern and/or trad. western repertoire? Are
there certain dances that get done fairly often and would be
familiar to many of the dancers (e.g., "Texas Star", "Forward
Six" [Right Hand High, Left Hand Low], particular singing
squares, particular visiting couple figures, ...). How
familiar are the regular dancers with various things that
come up in different kinds of squares? For example:
* If you do a partner-changing figure and use grand right
and left as part of a break, will they know that "meet
your partner and promenade" refers to the partner they
had at the start of the grand right and left (who may
not be their original partner)?
* Suppose you teach a dance where heads go out to the
right, circle half with the sides, and head gents break
to make lines of four at the sides of the set. If you
then switch to having sides go out to the right, etc.,
will the experienced 90% of the dancers know that the
lines of four should now form at the heads (and get
new 10% to follow along)? Or are there likely to be
squares where the lines have again formed at the sides
(and with goodness knows who at the left end)?
And so on. Or you could describe some dances you're thinking
of calling and ask your informant(s) whether the dancers are
familiar with those dances or ones like them.
In sum (and at the risk of prattling on about what you already
know), whether a particular figure or transition or pattern
seems easy or difficult can depend immensely on whether it's
already familiar to the majority of dancers present. The
more you know about the dancers' skills--and also the more
you know about their expectations--the better you can plan
your program to suit them while also not getting too far out
of your own comfort zone as a caller.
On Feb 4, 2017, at 9:26 AM, Amy Cann via Callers <callers(a)lists.sharedweight.net>
It's a friendly low-key local community dance, and
they know I'm mainly a contra caller, so the potential for hurled tomatoes is low --
but I still want to not stink too much.
Any suggestions for dance choices or thought-habit adjustments?
Back to scribbling on my 3x5 cards and re-reading Lloyd Shaw...
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