The standard you set for yourself in the everyday work world that you were comfortable with and it was all good enough before was perfectly fine then. But it won’t be good enough to run your own business as a professional square dance caller.
There is nothing more frustrating than running out of money and realizing that you are square dance calling because you’ve got the guts to stand above it all and push through your worst month when there is no evidence of security. You really embrace what you do, and you’d do it for free if you had to. This is business as a square dance caller.
You do not punch a time clock, you do not settle into a daily workweek routine, and you do not get a weekly paycheck from an employer. You will travel quite a bit, you will become quite exhausted at times, you might even get lost looking for the dancing venue that you are booked to call for that night as you are saddled in your car between the rear end of a thrift store and a laundromat calling someone nearly a hundred miles away for some directions on Google maps!
Calling is a job that you have to love, but not for monies earned. Sometimes it does not pay very well at all.
But that does not matter, really. You do it because you love calling and what it represents to you inside. Calling is a way to express yourself and represent and embrace an art form that has a long and historic heritage. All experienced callers can tell of many times that they have struggled financially and they will all agree that you have to love what you are doing first and respect what square dance calling is.
It is about entertaining persons at some kind of social gathering, whatever that might be. You are an entertainer.
You are in the entertainment business!
Square dance calling as a business is in many ways similar to experiences you might deal with in other businesses. You will be confronted many times with your insecurities and fears, your abilities and limitations, your justifications, your integrity, and your inefficient time management. The big question is what do you do about all of this?
Ways to propel your business
First, like many things, promoting yourself requires discipline and focus. You need to take inspired action that feels tangible and is measurable. Anything that involves practicing or learning and advances your abilities will only help. Set a timer for 30 minutes and go to town on a practice session. Do not leave your work station, office or practice area. Do not go to the kitchen and peruse the fridge for nacho cheese spread, although the nachos are always spicy saucy good! Hey, just sayin’ stay focused.
- Learn what way you like to call and stick to that and do it consistently and often
- Once you have figured out what works within your entertaining personality and personal voice, selling to the dancers will be a thousand times easier, and this is simply because you will be working within your natural vibe
- Practice the things you are weak on every time you practice, usually at the end of the practice session
- Set up yourself a mailing campaign and combine that with a cold calling session at least once a week to find more business
- Keep good records of expenses for your tax deductions
- Send out thank you cards to every contact for every event you have called for to touch base once more and show appreciation
Make something happen, despite the fact that at times you will feel like you are totally wasting your time. Push against it all throughout the day everyday and you’ll make a difference in your progress in self-promoting, programming dances, your music selection, best teaching approaches, there are many areas to expand your business and advance your square dance calling as a profession.
Start at the bottom. Whenever you start at anything you are always at the bottom, so do your best, focus on building competence and credibility, and always reach for the next level up. Do this by learning the basics of square dance calling – timing, phrasing, applying command calls. Possibly taking voice lessons. Grasp a better understanding of choreography.
Tenacity is more important than having a lot of talent in many things. Calling is not really any different.
That’s how you gain experience and confidence.
Having the ability to call square dances can be a gift or a curse depending on how you look at it and the affect it has on your life. On a positive note, working hard at your business often leads you in finding the strength and resilience to persevere and rise to the top.
Things will happen, hopefully mostly good, and you will learn to accept yourself through all this because in order to get up every day and continue on, you simply rise up and do it…
…calling square dances.
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 calling 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.