Let’s Square Dance PARTY!

Tips On Square Dance Calling Your Best at a Social Event

A party is a way to friendly interact and socialize at a lively gathering with other people and have a memorable time. The positive vibe of going out with friends and surrounding yourself by a bunch of fun people is a great experience to add to someone’s social life diary.

And there are so many things to love about a square dance at one of these get togethers. The whole thing becomes an age spanning, ice-breaking bundle of fun for everyone present, regardless of a lot of things. Ability is not so important at one of these gigs, and for the whole group, regardless of the type of event that is being put on, simple fun and interaction is at the heart of it all. Do make sure that you have good solid ways to teach the simple steps and calls that you want to use for choreography.

Related:  How to Teach Square Dancing Basics 

As a modern western square dance caller, you will be contacted regarding someone’s need for square dance entertainment at a social function of some kind. The key thing is to have lots and lots of good fun and impactful music for everyone to enjoy on your night’s program.

Many callers have made a successful entertainment run out of calling square dance parties and this exposure to square dance is the basis of experience for most younger millennials and their families as they get their first taste of basic traditonal square dance moves (a great amount of the basic calls of square dancing have origins from the traditional period of square dance) and the presentation of all sorts of square dance music.

Success will be determined by two things: your choices and preparation.

Related:  Square Dance Entertainment Pointers

Calling a successful party depends upon how you present your overall program and your methods of entertaining, and generally, how well you engage and create interaction and great fun will determine if you have triumphed or  failed at what you were hired to do.

It is very important to load your program with lots of entertaining ideas. Simple ones that involve everyone such as a “Boys louder than Girls” contest to instill a little friendly competition between everyone. The truth is, if your program ideas are not strong and engaging, then the impression that you impart may be that square dancing is boring and old-fashioned. Or it just plain is not fun. Entertain with the impression that square dancing is fun and something that everyone present finds interesting and different from what they normally do. Because it is. Your performance is a representation of what the square dance activity is. If you follow this one simple thing, you will succeed on a much higher scale than otherwise.

To succeed you must engage everyone that came to the party. That they have had one of the most memorable and unique times of their entire lives. Maybe even the greatest night at a party they have ever had. You must be a showman and an entertainer that leads everyone through a night of all nights. Your presentation and overall demeanor must be one of high spirits and festive happiness. You must interact with everyone present and be the life of the party and, unquestionably, you must inspire the crowd to want to have another square dance party. To do any less means failure.

Make sure all in attendance enjoy themselves. This is the only real reason you were hired.  You can be the best square dance caller in the world, but if everyone did not have a blast, you have not fulfilled your obligation of your contract and most likely will never be asked back.

Avoid that situation at all costs.

Best Regards,

Shaun Werkele

303-250-4735

 

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.

 

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Mechanics of Square Dance Singing Calls

Mechanics of Square Dance Singing Calls

History of the Singing Call

Looking back at the history of square dancing music, the singing call became an evolved and progressive outtake that stemmed from traditional dance. This initially started with the “dance masters” during the early days of colonization along the Eastern seaboard cities and as new popular songs were composed, dance figures were composed and adapted to fit a set of choreographic moves that were appropriate to the music.

This was a genius move on the behalf of the dance masters, leading to many dance tunes that were taught to the local folk. These sets of dance moves and figures were often specific only to a particular song. The choreography had to be learned and memorized by the townspeople so they could perform the moves at their social gathering celebrating in grand festive dance.

Compositions changed and progressed continually as the decades passed, and the singing call came to be a huge part of square dance as singing pop ditties became more and more popular over time.

Most people do not realize that the actual choreography is equally as important as the music itself. And the timing in beats that comprise the structure of the dance song is unique only to square dance music.

Structure of the Square Dance Singing Call Song

Practically all modern western singing calls have a structure that has been the same for decades with the deep roots described above. The basis of the original song structure in some form mostly resembles the melodic and rhythmic nuts and bolts of the original parent song that was recorded and loved by everyone in the popular world of music. After the square dance explosion post WWII, the evolution of modern music has set the pace for change in square dance and this is symbolized and is embodied most through singing calls.

The format developed from the need for a progression of dancers within the square restricted by an allotment of time of a typical song – 3 to 4 minutes long. This simple structure is repeated seven times throughout the song at 64 beats each. There is an introduction of the song, then there is the often identical set of melodic phrases that add up to the repeating seven figures that comprise the body of the singing call, and then there is an ending to resolve the song’s “musical story,” so to speak.

Here is an outline of the anatomy of a singing call:

SONG INTRODUCTION
OPENING FIGURE
FIRST FIGURE (WITH CORNER ROTATION)
SECOND FIGURE (WITH CORNER ROTATION)
MIDDLE (BREAK) FIGURE
THIRD FIGURE (WITH CORNER ROTATION)
FOURTH FIGURE  (WITH CORNER ROTATION)
CLOSING FIGURE
SONG ENDING

The 1st sequence is the INTRODUCTION, which brings the dancers back to their original partner.
The 2nd and 3rd sequence are sequences that are called a FIGURE, which the caller instructs the choreography to change partners by a counter-clockwise rotation that progresses the Ladies to the Next man to her right, the new “Corner” and takes the Ladies around the square.
The 4th sequence is the MIDDLE (BREAK) FIGURE, which is often the same as the opener.
The 5th and 6th sequences are again the rotating Partner FIGURE which continues to progress the dancers by Singing and Promenading a new Partner around the square.
The 7th sequence is the CLOSING FIGURE which is often the same as the opener and middle break.

The SONG INTRODUCTION and SONG ENDING – the musical beginning of the song and the conclusion of the song. The beats can vary from song to song for any intro and any ending. Caller cues might be delivered during the introduction beats of music such as the ever popular “Circle Left.” It is typical to conclude a singing call with a Partner Swing or Eight and Back or even a Bow to the Partner ending is sometimes appropriate.

Dancers change partners during the figure choreography which will be the 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th sequences, and this is usually accomplished by progressing to the next Corner man for the Ladies. By doing this, all Men will Swing and Promenade with all Ladies by the song’s end. Dancers remain with their current partner during the 1st, 4th and 7th musical sequences.

Pointers For Calling a Singing Call

The presentation of square dance calls (choreography) is the most important part of the singing call for the dancers. All callers should study the commands as they relate to the music so that they understand where to deliver the calls for the singing call. The delivery of the calls in relation to the music is crucial to making the song a vocal performance. One thing that should always be kept in mind about vocal delivery on singing calls: sometimes the timing is too late, or even too early, in the actual delivery of the  calls in relation to dancing of the choreography with the music.

Related:  Entertainment Pointers For Callers

As a caller, think about recording your performance and dancing with the music to ensure that the choreography is delivered early enough for the dancers to execute comfortably. Make some notes so that you will remember the areas that you might have to deliver the calls early.

Using the “Cue” Delivery of Calls

Most times the caller will sing the actual melody in the form of square dance calls as they need to give those commands. Sometimes this implementation does not work and the need for simply delivering the calls in a spoken tone of voice in time with the music is a better approach to take. If a newer caller is attempting to learn the singing call by listening and mimicking the recorded performance by the featured singer on the vocal portion of a singing call, they might be learning timing that is not fitting for the dancers to dance to. Practice your timing and check it by dancing the recorded snippets of sequences and always watch the dance floor closely while you are calling “live.”

Related  Using Directional Words When Calling

Lyrics and musical phrases do not always synchronate with the timing needed to perform a particular call, or even an entire sequence. Study the music, dance to your calls on a recorded practice session, and determine if changes to places within the song are needed. Many callers will work through several edits of a sequence to make it so it can become a better and more danceable performance.

Build a Repertioure of Singing Calls

Over time, with experience and practice, callers can build a solid and diverse singing call catalog of songs that they can draw from. Another thing that will happen over time is the improvement of delivery of calls and the dynamics of performing a singing call optimally. Study your program as a caller and expand your singing call ability and song repertioure so that you are a prolific and popular caller in your area.

Related:  How To Practice Square Dance Calling

Beginning callers almost always begin by learning a singing call and performing it at a club dance for the first time. By working with a caller coach, they can learn how to take those first singing calls and expand that into learning to be a well-rounded and highly experienced square dance caller.

I can provide guidance to help any new caller understand the mastery of singing calls and the importance of delivering commands effectively.

Feel free to call me at any time. I would be glad to help!

Shaun Werkele

303-250-4735

 

 

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

Advanced Level Modern Square Dance Singing Call Figures

Here are a few modern square dance singing call figures that will make any Advanced level singing call dancing fun, interesting, and engaging. Singing calls even at the higher levels are important to include in a square dance caller’s program to break up the drills of involved choreography and remind all present that simply relaxing and dancing to beautiful music that has a melodic hook is an important part of the night’s program.

These four Advanced choreography figures will do the trick:

CALLING TIP! If you plan to call at any level, inject  a couple of singing call figures that are more involved  and reinforce the call figures with similar choreography in the hoedown portion  prior to presenting them in the actual singing call for improved dancer success.

Heads (Sides) Wheel Thru
Swing Thru
Switch the Wave
Acey Ducey
Turn & Deal
Touch a Quarter
Split Circulate
Follow Your Neighbor & Spread
Swing Corner & Promenade

Heads (Sides) Touch a Quarter
Those Boys Run
Circle Four Halfway
Touch a Quarter
Follow Your Neighbor
Trade the Wave
Switch the Wave
Turn & Deal
Swing Corner & Promenade

Heads (Sides) Touch a Quarter
Walk & Dodge
Swing Thru
Switch to a Diamond
Boys Circulate
Diamond Circulate
Cut the Diamond
Wheel & Deal
Swing Corner & Promenade

Head (Side) Ladies Chain
Sides (Heads) Pass the Ocean
Extend (the Tag)
Motivate
In Roll Circulate
In Roll Circulate
Swing Corner & Promenade

Advanced level is for the dancer that has been dancing Mainstream level and PLUS level square dancing for at least 2 years, and they want to start or is currently participating in regular weekly dance with a local group. You must have and be able to execute all choreographic moves already learned proficiently at the PLUS level and be able to commit to weekly classes to learn the A-1 and A-2 basics and work well in a team environment. Call for more information!

Shaun Werkele
303-250-4735

 

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.

 

Proven Square Dance Calling Confidence Boosters

Proven and Effective Ways to Square Dance Call with More Confidence

Sell Yourself as a Performer First

The best way to exude confidence is to get into the right mental frame of mind before you step up onto the stage. It is important to remember that every audience out there wants to believe in the all-powerful magic of a captivating performance. And even the most experienced or the newest square dancer is present at that dance to believe that someone (yes, you!) can be fantastic in presence and performance. To help those dancers believe, you must first believe that wholeheartedly yourself. You must believe in yourself, otherwise your confidence will be nothing but a half-empty shell. Focus on getting in the right mindset before your square dance.

Think about past things you have done that were a success and focus on the value you bring to every dance that you call at. Check in with the club or group to get some reinforcement. By doing these pensive and proactive things you can turn around any self doubts you may have.

Assume Responsibility

As a square dance caller, you have a role to uphold within the square dance activity as a whole and on a more individual basis with each and every dancer. Even co-star movie actors with the fewest number of lines must see their role as important to the entire production of the film. Callers, indeed, must always assume a helpful and fuduciary role in every square dance class, event, or social gathering, so step up and accept it with pride.

Always thank all dancers for the opportunity and shower them with gratitude. At the same time be confident, be courteous and respectful and be succinct in your choices of words when speaking. Which brings us to the next appropriate point:

Know your Program

Every type of entertainer throughout the history of man surely has had the nightmare of being on stage and forgetting the lines they needed to deliver. To prevent this stressful outcome, every good actor will practice and practice until they have their lines down pat. As a caller, you have flexibility in what you call and choose not to call, and even when, however, don’t use that as an excuse to under-prepare or totally take an extemporaneous attitude to your programming. Even improvisers have to practice. Rehearse until you can effectively deliver smooth choreographic figures. This gives you a better boost in confidence than anything else and it allows you to go “off-script” without panicking. Learn how to memorize and practice material like singing call figures and choreography like a true professional does.

Pick out a square dance call and pretend you are “workshopping” it. Base some of your practice sessions with this scenario in mind. Force yourself to quickly adapt and build a solid program in just a few minutes. Figure out where you would change parts of your program in terms of your square dance choreography to make a better and more effective dance.

Related:  Square Dance Calling Your Own Choreography

Build Your Voice

Take a notable lesson from any professional actor who knows that their voice and energy body transfer is the most important thing to their audience and their performance – more important in many ways than their lines, especially in those first few moments when the curtains are drawn. Performers stay focused on getting prepared and they would never go onto the stage without first warming up, and neither should you.

Doing a few vocal and physical drills beforehand will give you confidence when you’re in front of dancers. There’s an undeniable and powerful connection between body and mind. Channel your energy once you are on stage and use plenty of warm-up exercises just before you call.

Related:  Modern Square Dance Calling: How to Sing Better and More Effectively

Use Good Posture and Great Gestures

Sometimes being one hundred percent physically confident when you start your first few beats of music at a dance can be daunting, despite all of the practicing and positive self talk. Simply standing taller with your shoulders back and your chest out will make for a much more powerful impression. Use hand gestures that show dynamic and visually interesting ways to project and pervade great energy to all sizes of square dance audiences.

Identify within your mind what confident behavior looks like and sounds like for you. Remind yourself to be strong, confident and dynamic. Often opening a dance with a humorous anecdote is an excellent way to break the ice and it will put everyone at ease. I do not recommend a joke, but perhaps something funny and a little awkward that happened at a previous dance, or on the way to this one, that will evoke a smile or a laugh. Establish good eye contact and hold that contact with everyone. Make a warm smile and push ahead even if things are a little awkward. Apply these confident behaviors as you’re practicing (I sometimes practice in front of a mirror. It is very effective). Push through even when it feels uncomfortably awkward and forced.

Related:  Entertainment Pointers For Callers

Maintain all of these confident behaviors in your presentation of yourself. And you will also want to keep filler words such as “OK,” “um,” “so,” and “all right” to a minimum. Good enunciation is an important part of good stage performance in any area of public presentation, so practice good language skills to further boost your confidence.

You can show and feel more confident at all of your dances that you call if you take the time to incorporate some of these great ideas that have been proven to work and ensure that you are both prepared with a good musical program and you have great square dance choreography in your arsenal.

Be professional and ready and make sure you are confident!

Please do not hesitate to reach me if you are a new square dance caller and you have a question! I would be glad to help!

Have a great day!

Shaun Werkele

303-250-4735

 

 

 

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.