Panoramic Aspects of Calling Square Dances

As a modern western square dance caller you should always think hard about what you want to do and your role in the square dance activity. Calling at various levels – called “dance programs,” whether that is Mainstream, PLUS, Advanced and Challenge, can beckon a powerful set of questions –

Why are you striving to expand to a more involved choreographic level in the first place?

Do you have the skills to call at the higher level that you are interested in?

What will it take to advance your abilities to call at a higher level?

What will the “fun” factor be for yourself in regards to what level program you call at?

Will there be enough dancers to support a group at a higher level?

Advanced and Challenge levels are much more involved and harder to call – where you are dealing with concepts, new formations, more DBD (Dancing By Definition) dancing, and involved ideas like galaxy formations, phantoms and a higher focus on fractionalizing of complex calls.

Does your calling style even match the level you would like to call at?

If you call more from an entertaining style then you might have problems with higher level concept calling and being accepted by more critical people at the Advanced and Challenge levels of dance. Or perhaps your heart and soul longs to embrace the traditional style of square dance. There is a lot for any caller to offer square dance as a social doorway which bridges together our American musical and dancing past.

  Related:  How to Teach Square Dancing

Remember, there are good callers and bad callers at every level and within every modern dance program and even within the traditional realm there exists strong dancers and weaker dancers. Making a change “up” is not necessarily the best move you can make for yourself, even if you feel that it is. You might just be “not built that way” and you may not like the stress of the increase in calls and complexity.

Overall, square dance calling is an activity that offers many niches for a dancer to participate in as well as for a caller to entertain in.

Just take a look at the tremendous strides that have been made in the area of standardization of square dance calls that are directed at the average person, as a member of a square dance club, that belongs to local and national organizations, which meet to promote the perfection of square dancing skills and healthy social interaction.

Regional dances are still very much in evidence and universally many people gather in social locales for party dancing based on old-time, simple figures.

Empower yourself as a caller who is on the crossroads of change and advance yourself in ways that will make a difference to the square dance activity. Focus on everything you need to as far as choreography goes, and adapt to being versatile and wearing numerous calling hats across several different levels of modern square dance. Be prepared to entertain at a square dance party. Or call an involved and mentally challenging square dance tip.

Or even some traditional square dance choreography. You never know what will come along. Once I called on a golf course at night! Heck, another time I called with only an accordian player and a guitarist and it was a great success! You adapt, change and have fun yourself. If you are not having fun as a caller, try to figure out what it is that you are not enjoying about the whole thing and change it.

After all, square dance reflects the personality and temper of people – which is a huge part of their human and socially attractive, fun and lasting appeal.

Related:  Modern Western Square Dance Calling: What is Involved?

 

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 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

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~Beckoning Challenge Program Of Modern Square Dancing~

Challenge Square Dancing – A Special Niche

Challenge square dancing is a lot of fun and it is different than traditional square dance and even modern square dance style dancing. It is a small, specialized interest in the square dance activity.  The entire central point of this more specialized group of dancers (that are found in not large numbers) is to successfully complete the square dance calls at this much, much higher level of difficulty.

But the dancing is not focused in the sense of participating in a competitive situation that encourages fighting or to ultimately decide which dancers are superior in terms of their ability or proficiency. Rather, the focus is on cooperation in the execution of more mentally challenging choreography than what is the normal degree of difficulty in square dance.

Watch and see…you will be amazed at the complexity that this niche of modern square dance can offer and how involved and tightly knit the interaction is between the dancers!

How It Works-

In modern western square dance the choreography is based upon learning a dancing vocabulary starting with “Circle Left” and plateauing for most people at less than a hundred calls, commonly referred to as the Mainstream program of square dance. The dancers in this square dance video are able to dance nearly a thousand calls and much more than that!

Concepts, variations of calls, and square dance formations that are much more uncommon than anyone would first realize are used by the caller to provide high interest and present difficult “dancing puzzles” that need to be solved.

There are absolutely no memorized traffic patterns for their feet to shuffle, rather the task of the square dance caller is to combine the calls together in an involved and challenging delivery that the dancers respond to as a team of eight persons in “real time.” What is intriguing is the dancers all know and are quite familiar with the basic mechanics of the square dance calls, they mostly have never heard any of the choreographic sequences of the calls assembled in these particular routines before. And they particularly did not know what was going to be called next.

 

Challenge Square Dancing Groups and Gatherings

Challenge Clubs

All Challenge level dancing meets weekly in groups that are socially joined a bit differently than the typical square dance club. For clubs at lower levels there is more interaction between the local clubs because there are more clubs and usually more dancers in those Mainstream and PLUS clubs to interact socially.

For this reason there are fewer dancers and callers at the higher levels of square dancing, therefore, there are only a few areas in the country that have Challenge level clubs with a high level choreographic program and with a capable caller getting together on a weekly basis.

Advanced and Challenge Tape Groups

Dancers sometimes form a small group that will meet regularly to dance and learn higher levels to pre-recorded live square dance Challenge level dancing. These are private and often small social groups that meet weekly to hone their dancing skills and focus on increasing their proficiency at the hihger levels of modern square dance.

Local and Regional Dances

It is common to see local Advanced and Challenge clubs to offer and promote hihger level events suited for dancers within this niche. These are organized with the goal to support Challenge dancing and to bring together more dancers on a special basis with a special square dance caller who will draw interest for all who attend the event.
Generally, state square dance festivals and regional special dances centered on Mainstream dancing offer a limited Advanced program, and Challenge dancing is almost never seen at these kinds of events. These often feature callers from other areas than the dancers normally dance to.

National Challenge Events

At all National Square Dance Conventions and most large festivals there is Challenge dancing on the program, however, most of the calling and dancing is only at the C-1 level.

National, International & World Events

The best and highest attended Challenge event is the entirely Challenge level programmed weekend for all levels of dancing at the Academy for Advanced and Challenge Enthusiasts (AACE). Assembled for Challenge dancers annually, this event emphasizes programs with dedicated dancing sessions for all levels of Challenge – C-1 – C-2 – C-3A – C-3B – C-4. The event accommodates some A-2 dancing on the program as well.

The larger overall dance event, the National Square Dance Convention, provides a program for Challenge and all of the levels of Challenge are danced within one hall that houses rotating levels throughout the day’s program.

The International PLUS – Advanced – Challenge Convention (IPAC) hosted in Europe is programmed for multi-level high level square dancing. The event happens every other year and is well attended.

The International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs (IAGSDC) offers a full program of Challenge dancing at their festivals and conventions and many local gay clubs dance several levels within their program.

 

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.