Modern Western Square Dance: Building Choreography On Singing Call Figures

Building a Night of Square Dancing Around the Basic Choreography of Singing Call Figures

If modern square dance callers want to expand their program with more effective ways of creating an original and super dynamic night of square dancing, a very simple way to succeed in doing this is to use more original singing call figures as a basis for delivering innovative and different choreography.

Further, the use of this singing call figure approach would be that all square dance callers will now have a fair chance of covering more choreography that is on the Mainstream or PLUS level lists because they all have the same springboard from which to work off of. That’s something that you could count on in your program positively for variety. But the biggest obstacle for callers to overcome HAS ALWAYS BEEN to simply provide interest that the square dancers can truly comfortably handle – is this plateau where you only have an hour or so of actual calling time in a night’s dance to present all this nicely arranged square dance choreography – and you don’t really get much into really deep creative ideas.

I think that not providing lots of good fresh ideas in dance combinations of calls has harmed square dancing immensely. Every caller puts out the same “stuff” with the exact same approaches to all dancers everywhere – nationally, internationally, locally…worldwide it is the same…maybe I am not considering enough of the overall square dance calling population, but for me, from a subjective point of view, I think it’s not a good thing.

Related:  25 Alive Choreographic Challenge

Traditional square dance ideas can be recombined and reworked to produce lots of new and innovative ideas. These can involve elements of each original choreographic idea. As a modern western square dance caller, you have the ability and responsibility to present a simple square dance call that is interesting and build those unique ideas up with insightful choreographic variations of the original basic call as the dance progresses. This will push the dancer’s capabilities up as the night unravels. You can present both modern and traditionally based choreography and build a great progression in choreographic material with the hoedown patter portions of each tip in your program. This is the best manner for making singing call choreography the most interesting and your overall dancing program the most entertaining.

Below are a few singing call figures and two corresponding modules that will help in making modern western square dance calling a Mainstream level dance more interesting and engaging. And consequently allowing for great dancer success. Using strong ideas beforehand will encourage much higher success and will strengthen dancer’s abilities. Changing the choreography as you call a singing call by slightly altering the same choreography figures is a great easy way to offer some variety throughout your program without getting super complicated. Here is a great post that changes singing call choreography by making slight variations of the parent figure.

Related:  Square Dance Singing Call Figures With Minor Changes

The primary idea is to strengthen dancer’s abilities by introducing a call or a position/formation that is not used enough throughout the typical dance programs and slot that choreographic idea a few times in singing call choreography. Next, take those ideas and program them right into your hoedown/patter portion of the tip and then immediately reinforce some of those ideas again within the singing call sequence. Each singing call break below has a corresponding choreographic idea that can be used as an appealing and unique “warm-up” used in the hoedown or patter portion of the tip.

Try this combination for overall dancing success:


CALLING TIP!   Listen to the music only when selecting and purchasing square dance music and make a determination whether the song rendition is worthy of your style and vocal capabilities. Also understand that you can change the choreography – and probably should –  to suit your dancer’s needs. The recording artist’s choreography or vocal performance should not be a factor in your decision to purchase a particular square dance song.

Heads (Sides) Promenade Halfway
Sides (Heads) Right & Left Thru
Sweep a Quarter
Pass Thru
Spin Chain Thru
Girls Circulate Once
Swing Corner & Promenade


Heads (Sides) Lead Right
Swing Thru
Spin the Top
Right & Left Thru
Pass the Ocean
Boys Circulate
Girls Trade
Single Hinge
Scoot Back
Swing Corner & Promenade


Heads (Sides) Right and Left Thru
Lead Left
Touch a Quarter
Split Circulate
Boys Run
Reverse Flutterwheel
Sweep a Quarter
Pass Thru
Trade By
Allemande Left
Come Back & Promenade Home


Heads (Sides) Touch a Quarter
Walk & Dodge
Swing Thru
Boys Run
Half Tag  Walk & Dodge
Partner Trade
Pass the Ocean
Boys Circulate
Swing Thru
Boys Trade
Girls Turn Back & Promenade


If you do call a workshop tip within your night’s program, working in a couple of singing call figures that apply the choreographic ideas that were taught and then the reinforcement of that is a superb approach to rounding off the workshop!

Best Regards,
Shaun Werkele




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.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s