I don't call squares often - it is a different feel than calling contras, and for our
contra dance, I would want to be better at it to do it regularly (of course, if I did it
I'd get more practice). But I do often call visiting squares like the Grapevine Twist
or Birdie in the Cage for barn dances. I've even done them with 5 couples because
that's what I had and it works fine as a pentagon. For beginners it is useful for them
to watch the other couples do the figure so that they catch on by the time they do it. The
kids in particular love Birdie in the Cage and tweet and caw when it's their turn. So
I find those good opportunities for the visiting squares.
I have to say that my one critique as a dancer of square dances is that it's easier
to be gracious and helpful and forgiving in contra where you dance with beginners or
people who have never quite got it only one time through the music and then pass them on.
In squares I have seen people get really irritated at being stuck with people who never
ever seem to get it well enough to allow the rest of the folks to do the square right
once. It's hard on the people who are making the mistakes, and it's hard on the
people who are impatient, and on everyone else in the set experiencing this. So I see ill
will more frequently in squares and I think that's why some people just don't want
to do them. Of course, perhaps the caller in these cases chose squares too difficult for
the group - unfortunately, more often the first dancers to square up are the better
dancers, and that square in the back the caller can barely see is half newcomers and falls
apart throughout the dance while the square they are watching is having a wonderful time.
Not sure what to do about these issues.
On Jun 27, 2015, at 6:38 AM, Tom Hinds via Callers wrote:
Yes you are correct, pointing out the benefits of
squares is a much better option than telling them to stay home. I included that comment
in hopes that callers might consider being less afraid of what dancers think. I have no
illusions that others would say that to a dancer.
One aspect that makes squares attractive is the changing patterns. For myself and
others, dancing choreography that wasn't walked through is very enjoyable. And
changing the pattern doesn't have to be challenging.
For partner changing squares there's a certain satisfaction/challenge in performing
the choreography well as a group and ending with your partner again. Picking the correct
square for this is crucial-not too easy and not too hard.
Some people enjoy dancing squares to music where the phrasing is less distinct. It's
hard for me to describe but it's like dancing without holding back. Or could it be
described as charging ahead? Perhaps some of you can describe this gooder than I can.
This works well with driving old time music.
Although I don't enjoy the visiting couple type square, I understand that there are a
number of groups who enjoy these types of squares with very fast music. In central
Virginia there're getting large turnouts. I'm told that most of these dancers are
young and not contra dancers. I often hear of other groups in the country where young
dancers are discovering squares. Is this the future?
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