Plug-In Picasso: Square Dance Calling More Creatively

Learning to Square Dance Call on an Effective Creative Plateau

Before you begin a square dance calling practice session, write down how you intend to establish a basic program for the dance  that you are going to call in the near future. Choose your intentions with some good thought ahead of time. Make this element (or more than one) and let it guide you and it will establish your theme or your square dance program itinerary. Will your program be dominated by up-tempo music? Challenging choreography? Perhaps a little of both?

Also ahead of time, decide how you are going to handle injecting variety in your night’s program, using the same set of practice tools that you normally follow.

Will you contrast modern with traditional music? Workshop a few new angles on an old over-used “traffic pattern?” Will you instill fun that breaks the ice for everyone present so that they have a wonderful time?

These thought provoking elements are at the heart of creativity for a square dance caller (yes, these should be the kind of things you are considering in preparation), so during the process of creating, make sure that you are on a simple track of accomplishing your intentions. It’s simple. Just try to be aware of how your inspired ideas interact with one another. To NOT get a little creative will NOT advance your abilities or the dancers’ as well.

Related:  Panoramic Aspects of Square Dance Calling

When I first learned to call, two words had a huge effect on me when I was a young teen. Creative choreography. Once I learned about the power of creating ideas that moved people around then everything started to meld together in terms of understanding the mechanics of calling and seeing the many choreographic possibilities. And, although the square dance activity has changed some, getting creative with choreography has not really changed much at all.

Here is a great creative Get-Out idea that you can work on spring boarding and get you creating a choreographic idea or two:

Box 1-4 (Zero Box)

Step to an Ocean Wave-Girls Trade
Single Hinge
Scoot Back
Split Circulate
Walk & Dodge
Boys Fold
Touch a Quarter
Boys Cast Left 3/4
Girls Turn Around
Boys “Reverse” Extend
Left Allemande

Hope you will give that idea a try. The Left Allemande at the end helps to pull the dancers out of a kind of tricky spot quickly and then you can build on the novelty ideas of “Reverse ” Extend with other sequence ideas. Or just use it as a cool and different Get-Out!

Related:  Seven Square Dance Calling Get-Outs

Here is another simple Singing Call Figure for you to give a whirl:

Heads (Sides) Square Thru 4 Hands
Right & Left Thru
Touch a Quarter
Split Circulate
Boys Run
Reverse Flutterwheel
Square Thru 3 Hands
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

Getting creative entails one thing that you need to step back and take a look at in your own calling. Do you come up with ORIGINAL ideas some of the time, at least? If all you ever do is borrow ideas then you are not tapping into your creative side. Use your square dance choreography checkers and see what you can come up with.

One of the best ways to spawn a creative idea is to get inspired by one idea and then take it further, and that can be the fractionalization of a square dance call such as a Right & Left Thru with a Courtesy Turn a Quarter More (a simple idea that does not get used often enough). Choreographic ideas can stem from the inspiration of another caller.

Take their ideas and carry the torch a little further!

You will be glad you did. For your own growth as a caller and for the improvement of the dancers.

 

Best Regards,

Call me at anytime you might have a question, I will be glad to help in any way that I can!

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 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.

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Modern Square Dance Calling: How To Formulate Creative Choreography

How To Develop & Use Unique Square Dance Choreography

Select an Idea

Square Dance Caller Education SchoolAs a modern western square dance caller looking for new choreographic ideas, inspiration can come from anywhere. Get an idea from the Mainstream, PLUS, or Advanced list of calls and use that as a start. Even if you are calling a Mainstream dance you can use a creative choreographic snippet from another list. For example, use a Diamond formation at the Mainstream level without calling a Diamond Circulate or try to directionalize the dancers through a call. My prior post, Best Guide for Creating an Original Square Dance Choreography Sequence gives a great set of general guidelines to follow when you want to be a little more creative in your role as square dance caller. I recommend that you read that pointer post and apply those foundation of ideas to this procedure outlined here on creating square dance choreography.

Whether you choose to use an idea from an old set list of calls or you try something new, as long as you spend time formulating the square dance choreography sequence and focus upon a smooth mixture of interesting calls, and then when you call, give clear directions to the dancers. Success is in following the procedure as it is described below.

Set Up the Position for the Sequence

Using choreography checkers is best for developing creative choreography ideas and writing the material that you will use. To analyze the choreographic example I will give you, start with two facing couples in a zero box facing the corner (Box 1-4) and have them step to an Ocean Wave. This is the start of the creative choreography sequence.

Let’s take a look. You are square dance calling a Mainstream dance and you want to use something with Hinge and incorporate individual turning directions for the dancers. Hinges are universally not called enough so anything that you can call using this figure is a good idea. And by using an individual turning direction (Right, Left, In and Out) for dancers to execute encourages them to listen to simple directions from you. So this is the heart of the creative idea that builds the sequence:

Box 1-4 (Zero Box Ocean Wave)

Single Hinge
Girls Fold
Double Pass Thru
Everyone Face Right
Bend the Line

 

Implement Sequence

Use the idea

Start with the dancers doing a Single Hinge and then the Girls Fold behind the Men. Now have the dancers do a Double Pass Thru. Then have the Dancers individually Face to the Right. Then have the dancers Bend The Line. I am sure that many of you modern square dance callers will recognize the similarity of mechanics of this call. It is very close to being a Linear Cycle from the PLUS level list and although this is not an exact duplication of the description of the call, it is very similar.

So the “directions” that you give are simple and include directional words and the dancers get it. By doing this, you have provided something new and fresh and interesting for all.

Quick Get Out

Resolve the square

First work on resolving the dancers’ sequence by getting into a normal formation that the dancers are comfortable with, then resolve the sequence of dancers and apply a get out. This is essential to the success of the square dance choreography. Returning the dancers to a normal position – either a box, line or static square quickly allows for a lot more success for the floor and if there are a lot of lost dancers they will have a chance to regroup and continue on with the rest of the floor.

In this case, if you just do a Slide Thru, then you will have resolved the sequence to a zero box once more. A simple Allemande Left will return all of the dancers back to their home positions. Or…

…quick get out/continue teaching or calling:

Pass the Ocean
returns dancers to a Box 1-4 (Zero Box Ocean Wave)

 

Expand On Variations

Take the original idea and add to it

…and incorporate it into another sequence of calls. Create a few variations. For example, if you were using the ladies as the active component to initialize the unique choreographic idea then change that to the men as the active part.

 

Variation #1 adding and changing the sequence by adding more calls:

Box 1-4 (Zero Box Ocean Wave)

Single Hinge
Scootback
Boys Fold
Double Pass Thru
Everyone Face Right
Bend the Line

…and then add the Get Out:

Pass Thru
Girls Run
Single Hinge
(returns dancers to the Zero Box Ocean Wave)

 

Variation #2 adding and changing the sequence by adding more calls:

Box 1-4 (Zero Box Ocean Wave)

Single Hinge
Split Circulate
Boys Fold
Double Pass Thru
Everyone Face Left
Bend the Line

…and then add the Get Out:

Pass the Ocean
Recycle
(returns dancers to the Zero Box)

 

Variation #3 using same sexes working together:

Box 1-4 (Zero Box Ocean Wave)

Set up the variation sequence:

Single Hinge
Scootback
Centers Trade

Begin the sequence variation:
Single Hinge
The Ones Facing Out Fold
Double Pass Thru
Everyone Face Right
Bend the Line

…and then add the Get Out:

Star Thru
California Twirl
Centers Right & Left Thru
Step to a Wave and Extend
Girls Trade
(returns dancers to a Zero Box Ocean Wave)

 

Incorporate Your Idea Further

Use the Choreographic Idea in a Singing Call Figure

…and allow the dancers to dance the sequence of calls. Let the whole floor dance the new sequence in a singing call that allows them to relax and simply dance the creative choreography you have created and enjoy:

Heads Touch a Quarter
Boys Run
Right and Left Thru
Step to an Ocean Wave
Single Hinge
Girls Fold
Double Pass Thru
Everyone Face Right
Bend the Line
Square Thru Three Quarters
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

Overall, the process takes a little thought, creativity, and work. Spend some time with a choreographic idea and you can take your square dance calling and the dancer’s potential for more fun and even let them learn some too!

 

Shaun Werkele

303-250-4735

As mentioned before, here is the information for the square dance caller school that I will be conducting on April 30 and May 1, 2016 from 12:00 to 3:00 each day. See the ad flyer above and please call if you have any questions!

 

 

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 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.