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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Best Guide For Creating a Unique Square Dance Choreography Sequence

National Square Dance Caller Education1Creative choreography in square dancing is something that I learned and became fascinated with when I was young and I was first learning to call. I remember starting out in Denver Colorado square dance calling with my old caller coach and mentor, Dave Kenney, who would always ask me the same set of questions when I would present him with a new choreographic idea.

Now that I look back on those moments of learning, I see that our interaction often was centered around analyzing square dance figures that in the end, really, was a solid foundation and set of rules for creating interesting square dance choreography.

One of Dave’s most common questions would be, “Oh, does that follow the rule for the call?” or “What is the body flow for that combination?” meaning, is that acceptable and legal insofar as the dancer is concerned?  This really got me to thinking about the relationships between calls and how to combine them in an interesting manner. And this allowed for me to become a better square dance caller.

Body flow and understanding the definition of the call is a great start to creating choreography. Beyond that, what exactly is involved in creating a unique modern western square dance choreography sequence? There is an artistry to creative choreography and the basis of that creativity is first realizing that you are in the process of developing ideas that you combine with your knowledge of the rules of square dance choreography and how to apply that to your particular dancing situation.

Creating is a skill that you develop with hard work and practice and applying your knowledge to the start of an idea, even if it that idea is based upon a very basic square dance call. Talent or luck has nothing to do with this. Putting forth great effort into and getting creative on a level that boosts your choreographic possibilities from both a calling and a dancing standpoint is where you want to be when you are working a new idea. Get inspired first, then take that energy and just run with it. Often you are shooting for a different angle on some old choreography. More often than not, this is the way you should be working and there are tons of simple ideas that you can use and indeed, you can take this further than any other square dance caller has done so in the past, if you wish.

Set of Rules for Writing Choreography for Square Dances:

  1. Follow the rules and definitions of the lists of calls as established years ago – Mainstream, PLUS, Advanced, Challenge
  2. Keep your combinations simple
  3. Make sure that your dance sequences have good body flow for both sexes
  4. Build upon previously called ideas to create interest on the dance floor

Here are some great outlines to follow when you are devising creative choreography:

  • Always create choreography when you are inspired.
  • Do not try to “resolve the square dance checkers” while you are creating.
  • Springboard off of other choreographic ideas, both traditionally based ones from the past, and today’s modern western square dance
  • Put away an idea that is not working for you at the moment and return to it later
  • Take a called sequence that you like the choreography to and try reversing the sequence. Look for a different angle on the possibilities that might arise.
  • Follow the definition (rule) for the call to the letter for execution. Then break the rules and create a variation that is totally different from what it was originally!
  • Write your ideas first, analyze later. Otherwise you will stifle any creative combinations that might emerge.
  • Test your ideas on dancers at classes first, dances second. Still, remember that classes are for the dancers to learn first, and for you as a caller to learn is always second place.
  • Observe other square dance callers and pay attention to what they use for choreography.
  • Meet with other callers and run ideas by them and get feedback.

 

When you feel inspiration to create choreography, try to sit down and focus that energy on putting together something inspired and the end result will be worthwhile. That creative variable in your square dance program, utilizing a call or idea, can be the one element that makes it possible for dancers to enjoy and maybe even comment on how enjoyable your choreography was for them at the dance.

I wish you the best in your calling endeavors!

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 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.