Calling a great square dance requires a few components that will make the path to that successful outcome easier to achieve. You may have called many dances in the past. You might be a new caller and you want your first dance to be a very positive and exciting event. Putting it all together takes a lot of work and you need to combine both detailed and extensive preparation and psychological strategies to help you reach the plateau of success in entertaining your square dancers at your event.
First, try to plan and prepare as much as possible before putting your sound equipment in the car and driving out to that dance you are going to call. By preparing your choreography as much as you can for every tip and selecting and practicing your music selections for the night, you will gain more self-confidence, and by planning and preparing you definitely will have a lot more control of things in terms of your program for the night. This is a way of controlling the factors that you can to allow for the outcome that you intend – a fun night for all.
By preparing, you have instilled confidence into your dancers and yourself. I would like to point out, however, that you don’t always have everything in control. For instance, if you are going to meet with someone, you cannot plan every possible subject of the conversation in advance – nor is it feasible to attempt to do that. There are just way too many things that you might discuss. Similarly, you cannot control how the dancers will dance. As square dance callers, we might not have any knowledge of what the various dancers’ abilities and strength levels are when it comes to dancing modern western square dance choreography.
As you might already realize, as a square dance caller, the entirety of your program will be affected by the overall level and capabilities of the dancers and your performance of musical selections. If the floor is weak and sluggish, then everything is a little tougher and the choreography will have to be compromised for the dancers to succeed. Work at being prepared for that with some great opening sequences that are interesting and fun and present easier memorized modules or written sequences throughout the rest of the night. Encourage the dancers to interact with you and with each other and focus on fun and keeping the atmosphere light and pleasurable.
If you are a newer square dance caller, then preparing for your dance will be much more involved and time-consuming than subsequent times will be. If you are inexperienced, the first few dances that you call you are just going to be learning a lot anyway – and hopefully getting better in the process as you improve.
Further, it is useless to strive for perfection when you do anything for the first time. It is no different in learning to square dance call. You are setting the bar a little too high if you are aiming for perfection and you will just feel bad when you are not able to meet the too high level you have set for yourself.
Mental preparation is one of the most important aspects of preparing yourself for your night of calling. Your mental state is where you can optimize peak performance when you are under pressure. In all walks of life, high pressure situations place many demands on us. When we’re in a challenged situation is when we can meet those demands. The key is to increase your level of self-confidence, be fully prepared, and then you can focus on success!
Some mental approaches are to either one thing or combining things, listening to music, getting enough sleep, drinking some coffee, and then raise yourself in a psyched up state of mind for the big event you are going to perform. Establishing this type of routine can help to stay in control of your mental state and drive you to the goal you have: to call a great square dance that people will talk about and you can feel good inside about your overall performance.
You will want to call the whole dance perfectly, but perfection is unattainable. Remember striving for absolute perfection is just another way to procrastinate, so try to pursue excellence instead. If you have spent time preparing for the dance and you have worked hard, the end result will be excellent!
In mental preparation, the conversations you have with yourself leading up to and during the night’s program will influence how you behave. If you spend time before you go on stage thinking, “I’m going to fail,” and “Dancers are going to see how nervous I am,” then that is what the dancers will perceive. Your anxiety will be high and your body will react accordingly. Instead create a strong and powerful mental image of the dance that you will call. This highly powerful imagery should be made as realistic as possibly by including sights, sounds, feelings, and even smells. Visualize yourself performing well in an upcoming dance and it will be just what you want it to be – a great one!
For more inspiration on calling an outstanding dance check out this article: https://shaunwerkelesquaredancecalleraugustrecords.wordpress.com/2015/08/13/elements-of-a-high-energy-dance/
Feel free to call me if you have a square dance caller training question or any other question regarding square dance!
Have a great day!
Mission Statement: The purpose of this post is to create a greater visibility of the square dance activity for future dance population growth on a national and local level. The coaching information provided here serves as a source for square dance caller education, training, and perspectives on dance. Future articles will be developed to improve the programs of square dancing and how those learning to square dance call can help contribute to the preservation of both modern western square dancing and traditional square dancing and to aid in the growth of the square dance activity.