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.
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.
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.
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!
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.