Verily, all agree there is a strong relationship between being prepared and being organized. Being ready allows for you to be at your best and call the most fun and enjoyable event that the dancers will long remember and truly appreciate. For example, you are prepared to call a square dance party in a few days and you have checked your program list and you have all of your equipment ready to be loaded into your vehicle when the moment arrives. You have reconfirmed the date and time of the event with the party organizer for the party to check if there are any changes that you might need to be aware of. And when you call at the event, you will encounter a lot of things that you will not be able to fully control.
Getting a good grip on what you can is the next best thing!
So what can you focus on to keep everything in good order and keep everything prepared as best you can? Creating to do lists and following an agenda are great starting points. Below I have put together some criteria that you will want to add to your checklists to use whenever you have a dance to call in the future:
- Equipment check list of everything that you will need to perform at the event.
- Program plan – spend as much time as you need to put together a well thought out program of choreography and music.
- Practice Plan – this needs to be an ongoing and well in advance organizational move.
- Create a song list for the music program.
- Make a choreography program for every tip that you will call.
- Contact the party event host/organizer to confirm details
- Create other essential checklists: what general choreography you will use for all kinds of different dances and different levels, dance level teaching checklists, even a checklist for completing all checklists!
- Set your computer calendar’s alarm for the week before calling dates you need to remember, from an anniversary dance to regular type dance. Regional and state festivals. National conventions. Everything that you will attend. By doing this, you will have a reminder on making sure that your travel plans are well-planned in advance and that will give you enough time to buy anything you need on your trip.
- Create an “emergency” box for the car trunk: extra extension cords, extra electrical cords for equipment, spare microphone, an assortment of electrical connectors such as quarter inch jacks, adapters, and any other items you might need like a cheap rain poncho, tape, paper notepad, blank recipe cards, extra pair of dress pants, an umbrella and an extra shirt.
- Use computer technology to help you to remember things. If you want to remember things, put it in writing, or in a digital notebook like Evernote.
- Keeping your to-do lists and other information written somewhere allows you to look back at it anytime, especially when you do not have an internet connection (or you have fallen down at the grocery store, hit your head and forgotten your own name!)
- Create back-ups of everything that you don’t want to lose such as square dance music, choreography and square dance computer files and have a second computer dedicated only to square dance calling that you can count on for a back-up.
Related: 6 Keys to Caller Mastery!
Making the Gig a Success
Leave well in advance of the program’s start time, and give yourself extra time in case of heavy traffic or an accident along your route. Arrive in plenty of time to set up your equipment, test the sound, and relax just a bit before you start. Find the contact person as soon as you arrive. Introduce yourself and others who might have come with you. Take a visual tour of the area to determine the best place to set up for sound and safety of your equipment. Sometimes you might want to visit the place you will call beforehand so you will know what to expect and you can look for any problems that you will want to be able to deal with when you do call the event.
Remember, safety of your equipment is your responsibility. If your equipment gets damaged or if someone gets hurt by your equipment, you are liable. Keep your equipment away from water or excessive heat and position the cables and cords where people will not trip or get tangled up in them. Speakers need to be placed not only where the sound will be good but where they will not get knocked over, damaged, or injure someone. Make sure your table is sturdy enough to hold your equipment and not collapse if you or someone else leans on it. Make sure that you set up all equipment in an organized and safe manner.
The Big Why…
All of these things are your responsibility as a professional modern western square dance caller. Being organized makes everything simple and more fun for the dancers. Because you will not be stressed out and you will be ready to start on time. You will not forget anything crucial to making the event go extremely well.
“The game is on.” Once you have done a few of these square dance events you will get a better idea on what really works great and what is better left unsaid. Literally.
Whichever of these organizational tasks you decide to do, remember that you can’t completely organize your calling career in one go. It’s a long, never-ending process so be patient. But do make a decision to get organized right now then take small steps until you see some organization that will reduce your worries. Soon enough, you will be making a habit out of it all.
Have a Great Day! Contact me if you have a question about square dance calling!
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 training, education, 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.