For the Square Dance Caller: Build Compelling Choreography

The process of creating square dance singing call figures begins in finding within yourself a new recipe, and sometimes that entails taking the same old figures that have been the basis for square dancing for the past several decades and expanding that foundation into something new, fresh, and innovative. Writing creative square dance choreography that is of an effective quality in terms of both dancing interest and being memorable really rests on a bit of control.

What? It seems a bit odd, doesn’t it? Artistry in a systematic way. But the truth is, if you use some organization and good time management, you can be creative in many aspects of square dance calling just as many people who create in other arenas of the world and in life in general. You can plug into your creative potential by focusing on these optimized methods of writing square dance figures that can be powerful and then watch what happens on the dance floor as you present your efficacious combinations.

To create singing call choreography start things out with this simple method:

Generate as Many Great Choreographic Ideas as You Can

Start with a particular call or combination of a few calls you want to promote as a new dancing idea that you want to focus on and build up the figure from there. If you cannot think of an idea then think about something that you might have danced that was called by another caller lately. Or attend a class that a local caller is teaching and see if something that is being taught might spawn an idea or two for you that will work in creating something new and different. Get your hands on some old vinyl square dance records and look over the written choreography for each song for a choreographic nugget that you can mine into something great.

Make Something Out of Your Choreographic Ideas

The key thing here is callers need to envision a choreographic idea and then carry that idea through to fit in the big picture of what they are aiming to create. For individual dance programs and more. Only then can they create something that the dancers find interesting and is relevant in the big picture of square dancing overall. Shoot for creating as you are inspired and take from that inspiration to make something out of your ideas that will make anticipation a minimal thing in your program while the dancers are moving through the figures.

Choose Your Best Choreographic Ideas

The best ideas are really what you decide to choose from your list of square dance calls that you have created. Choose by looking for choreographic ideas that are astoundingly simple at first and focus on finding a powerful combination of square dance calls that will triumph over your group as you call. Use fractions of calls or variations of the most basic calls and leverage some creativity from those ideas.

Explore Uncharted Ideas

This is where you have to change your mental thinking patterns. Writing choreography, like many creative processes, takes a focus period and a rest period before you realize great ideas. And then they will come to you. For instance try fractions of calls or variations of just about any call that can be executed and you are on your way to putting something together that will keep interest high and anticipation low among the dancers.

Write Singing Call Figure Cards and Keep Ideas in a Notebook

Chronically consumed by ideas? Sometimes… Sometimes not. Usually new ideas come in spurts and so this is the time you use a caller notebook to manage your choreography. Being organized requires that you document and manage your choreography so that it is accessible for both practice time and at dances. Make your notes readable at a glance so that you can remember your ideas and command the calling of the dance comfortably. Larger lettering is good. Generally, any sequence that you write should not exceed the space of a card, and that is skipping spaces. This seems to be the ideal length of time that a sequence of calls should be before resolution of the square to the Corner Lady and Promenading in sequence to the Home Position.

Apply the Rules of Good Body Flow and Timing

The most important elements of a great singing call figure definitely counts on smooth mechanics in the execution of the moves and being able to dance those figures in time to the music. Generally, the dancers need more beats of music to perform the calls as opposed to less. The timing of the calls needs to be danceable – another aspect that you need to consider when you direct the dancers through your calls is the timing on the delivery of the calls. Your calling (delivery of the commands) must be given before the dancers are finished completing the call that they are dancing through at that moment. By doing so you will eliminate “stop and go” dancing and encourage nice smooth dancing to the music for the dancers. Body flow and delivering the calls in spot on timing combined with interesting choreography is the cornerstone of great square dance calling!

Related:  Write Your Own Square Dance Choreography

Manage your time by setting aside creative sessions. Schedule them so that they happen. Time to reach inside of yourself and find your square dance caller creative choreography water well and draw from that spring!

As someone who cares deeply about the state of square dancing, I give you the highest regards and wish you the best in your square dance 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 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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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.

Square Dance Calling: For the Love of the Star

Many individuals start their lives full of enthusiasm and somewhere along the way they give up. These people end up existing in a manner that is displayed by their daily actions of going through the motions and somewhere along the way they stopped believing in themselves and what they are truly capable of. This is so tragic when this happens. They stop striving for excellence and forget about their passions. They take for granted the love of others who care about them. They simply go through the everyday motions of existence. And it happens in all areas of life everywhere in the world.

As our world continues to change, square dancing also continues to evolve. As callers, we all need to evolve, too. In order to do this, all callers need to find new motivation to progress and focus on a way to make an impact and navigate a fresh path in a traditionally based activity such as square dancing. In order to facilitate this, there are many sources available for a modern western square dance caller available today and the possibilities for creativity have grown considerably from yesteryear. The truth is there are many more educational resources for square dance callers than twenty years ago. There are many more choices and styles of dance music that can be used to present a tapestry for square dancers to enjoy and not just square dance music created for square dance calling.

Weave in this rich tapestry an offering of musical diversity and you can take one of the core elements of square dance as an activity and usher in new dancers from many walks of life. For instance, presently, individuals have the opportunity to download a vast amount of music from a lots of different square dance song websites. This available variety allows for square dance callers to be creative in offering many different musical selections to their square dance audience.

Related: Selecting Square Dance Music

The key thing to keep in mind is all callers need to find musical selections that are suitable, entertaining, and in line with the age and enjoyment of the audience they are calling to. Along with this is the offering of music that connects with everyone on an emotional and social level. And then there is the quotient of what everyone will expect to hear as the traditional roots music of square dance. An audience will want to be all “countryfied” and they all pretty much expect it. So all callers should give their dancers music that is traditional in sound to satisfy expectations.

On the other hand, at the same time everyone should see what square dance music can be. And that it does not only encompass traditional country music and traditional square dance music. There are many facets of the musical gem that can be cut and the end result is diversity in different styles of music from rock and roll and dance and rap and older genres such as old-time swing standards. Balancing your program is a guaranteed path to success in offering fun, variety and an overall great impression of what square dancing really is.

Musical variety in tempos of music, types of music, and an entire night of fantastic songs will make everyone happy. Put some thought into how you want to pace your night of dance and implement that in your program. You can even practice in this manner when you are working on preparing for your square dance calling gigs.

Related: Programming Musical Variety in Square Dance

Whatever music you select, always ensure that the music is not too fast for comfortable dancing. A little quicker tempo song is fine one or twice in a night. People get tired if they move too fast for too long and then they do not want to get up and dance as the night progresses. Another pointer here is to be cautious in using music that has loud background vocals in the background of the song. Choose music that is not going to conflict with your being heard clearly delivering your commands. Background vocals on songs will definitely drown out your square dance calling to the music. So just avoid that situation for yourself.

Inspire a modern approach to square dance by providing some energy that will boost the entire activity and the fun can spread by word of mouth to any and all who would simply come out to enjoy a night of square dance at a birthday party, barbeque or a corporate gathering!

Best Wishes,

Shaun Werkele

303-250-4735

 

 

Disclaimer: The purpose of this site 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 calling 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.

 

 

Memorizing Calls & Figures For Square Dances

Methods That Will Improve a Modern Western Square Dance Caller’s Memorization Of Calls

The essence of successfully square dance calling a more involved bunch of choreography to a group of dancers often is in a memorized set of calls. By having a memorized routine you can then deliver with mental confidence and accuracy and you can even focus on your timing, directions and better enable the floor to succeed in getting through your choreography. So now the big hurtle to clear is focusing on memorizing the sequences that you want to deliver.

Visualize The Choreography Through Mental Imaging

When you want to remember a sequence, you can picture yourself dancing the calls in the square and focus on your path that you make as you move through the square as a dancer. This is a memory journey that you map out as a dancing route through the completion of the particular sequence you are memorizing. By plotting yourself a visual mental journey through the eyes of a dancer you can learn the memorization of calling sequences much more easily. This takes practice, but if you can visualize then you can draw upon that map to keep the sequence of calls in proper order. By using mental image memorization you can simply access the calls that you need when you need them.

Use Square Dance Modules

Modular calling is a method that is useful because it allows for both variety in choreography and the control of resolving the square into a recognizable “in sequence” dancing formation. By memorizing modules prior to the dance all of the dance figures and call combinations presented are given with the options that afford the caller the judgment/decision about whether to give another module or continue on with a get out to bring everything back together again.

Related:  How Square Dance Modules Work

Write Your Own Choreography

Several things happen when you write your own choreography. You must understand what the calls do, where they take the dancers in the square, and how to combine the calls in an interesting and smooth manner. This is kind of a tall order to have to fill. The upside is you can then remember what you have created much more easily than if you try to memorize and use other square dance caller’s material by rote. I find that anything that I have written myself I can much more easily recall later on at the dance because the ideas came from my own creativity. Make it easy on yourself in remembering a set of calls by creating the whole thing yourself.

Related:  Creativity With Square Dance Checkers

In The End…

Memorizing figures will enable you to add another tool to your toolbox of abilities as a square dance caller. Make it a part of your calling routine in practice and live at square dancing events. Visualization of square dance calls, writing choreography and using modules can be combined to aid you in strengthening your calling for all dances that you entertain at. If you make an effort to memorize even a little of your overall program, then you will have an arsenal that can pay off for years to come.

Have a great time calling out there! Contact me if you have a question or you need a square dance caller coach!

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.

Mechanics of Square Dance Singing Calls

Mechanics of Square Dance Singing Calls

History of the Singing Call

Looking back at the history of square dancing music, the singing call became an evolved and progressive outtake that stemmed from traditional dance. This initially started with the “dance masters” during the early days of colonization along the Eastern seaboard cities and as new popular songs were composed, dance figures were composed and adapted to fit a set of choreographic moves that were appropriate to the music.

This was a genius move on the behalf of the dance masters, leading to many dance tunes that were taught to the local folk. These sets of dance moves and figures were often specific only to a particular song. The choreography had to be learned and memorized by the townspeople so they could perform the moves at their social gathering celebrating in grand festive dance.

Compositions changed and progressed continually as the decades passed, and the singing call came to be a huge part of square dance as singing pop ditties became more and more popular over time.

Most people do not realize that the actual choreography is equally as important as the music itself. And the timing in beats that comprise the structure of the dance song is unique only to square dance music.

Structure of the Square Dance Singing Call Song

Practically all modern western singing calls have a structure that has been the same for decades with the deep roots described above. The basis of the original song structure in some form mostly resembles the melodic and rhythmic nuts and bolts of the original parent song that was recorded and loved by everyone in the popular world of music. After the square dance explosion post WWII, the evolution of modern music has set the pace for change in square dance and this is symbolized and is embodied most through singing calls.

The format developed from the need for a progression of dancers within the square restricted by an allotment of time of a typical song – 3 to 4 minutes long. This simple structure is repeated seven times throughout the song at 64 beats each. There is an introduction of the song, then there is the often identical set of melodic phrases that add up to the repeating seven figures that comprise the body of the singing call, and then there is an ending to resolve the song’s “musical story,” so to speak.

Here is an outline of the anatomy of a singing call:

SONG INTRODUCTION
OPENING FIGURE
FIRST FIGURE (WITH CORNER ROTATION)
SECOND FIGURE (WITH CORNER ROTATION)
MIDDLE (BREAK) FIGURE
THIRD FIGURE (WITH CORNER ROTATION)
FOURTH FIGURE  (WITH CORNER ROTATION)
CLOSING FIGURE
SONG ENDING

The 1st sequence is the INTRODUCTION, which brings the dancers back to their original partner.
The 2nd and 3rd sequence are sequences that are called a FIGURE, which the caller instructs the choreography to change partners by a counter-clockwise rotation that progresses the Ladies to the Next man to her right, the new “Corner” and takes the Ladies around the square.
The 4th sequence is the MIDDLE (BREAK) FIGURE, which is often the same as the opener.
The 5th and 6th sequences are again the rotating Partner FIGURE which continues to progress the dancers by Singing and Promenading a new Partner around the square.
The 7th sequence is the CLOSING FIGURE which is often the same as the opener and middle break.

The SONG INTRODUCTION and SONG ENDING – the musical beginning of the song and the conclusion of the song. The beats can vary from song to song for any intro and any ending. Caller cues might be delivered during the introduction beats of music such as the ever popular “Circle Left.” It is typical to conclude a singing call with a Partner Swing or Eight and Back or even a Bow to the Partner ending is sometimes appropriate.

Dancers change partners during the figure choreography which will be the 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th sequences, and this is usually accomplished by progressing to the next Corner man for the Ladies. By doing this, all Men will Swing and Promenade with all Ladies by the song’s end. Dancers remain with their current partner during the 1st, 4th and 7th musical sequences.

Pointers For Calling a Singing Call

The presentation of square dance calls (choreography) is the most important part of the singing call for the dancers. All callers should study the commands as they relate to the music so that they understand where to deliver the calls for the singing call. The delivery of the calls in relation to the music is crucial to making the song a vocal performance. One thing that should always be kept in mind about vocal delivery on singing calls: sometimes the timing is too late, or even too early, in the actual delivery of the  calls in relation to dancing of the choreography with the music.

Related:  Entertainment Pointers For Callers

As a caller, think about recording your performance and dancing with the music to ensure that the choreography is delivered early enough for the dancers to execute comfortably. Make some notes so that you will remember the areas that you might have to deliver the calls early.

Using the “Cue” Delivery of Calls

Most times the caller will sing the actual melody in the form of square dance calls as they need to give those commands. Sometimes this implementation does not work and the need for simply delivering the calls in a spoken tone of voice in time with the music is a better approach to take. If a newer caller is attempting to learn the singing call by listening and mimicking the recorded performance by the featured singer on the vocal portion of a singing call, they might be learning timing that is not fitting for the dancers to dance to. Practice your timing and check it by dancing the recorded snippets of sequences and always watch the dance floor closely while you are calling “live.”

Related  Using Directional Words When Calling

Lyrics and musical phrases do not always synchronate with the timing needed to perform a particular call, or even an entire sequence. Study the music, dance to your calls on a recorded practice session, and determine if changes to places within the song are needed. Many callers will work through several edits of a sequence to make it so it can become a better and more danceable performance.

Build a Repertioure of Singing Calls

Over time, with experience and practice, callers can build a solid and diverse singing call catalog of songs that they can draw from. Another thing that will happen over time is the improvement of delivery of calls and the dynamics of performing a singing call optimally. Study your program as a caller and expand your singing call ability and song repertioure so that you are a prolific and popular caller in your area.

Related:  How To Practice Square Dance Calling

Beginning callers almost always begin by learning a singing call and performing it at a club dance for the first time. By working with a caller coach, they can learn how to take those first singing calls and expand that into learning to be a well-rounded and highly experienced square dance caller.

I can provide guidance to help any new caller understand the mastery of singing calls and the importance of delivering commands effectively.

Feel free to call me at any time. I would be glad to help!

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

Square Dance Calling: Open Mike Mentoring

The way a lot of square dance callers get into the art is to start out with a singing call at an open microphone night at a club dance. Some call this an amateur night, and rightly so. This is an opportunity for a newer caller to perform a singing call or two, and perhaps even a hoedown call, and get exposure and experience all at the same time.

At the end of the performance, the new caller feels good and excited and hopefully all of the dancers are polite and courteous and they enjoy the calling presented and compliment and thank the new caller. One thing the new caller will surely realize is that they are only starting to learn about the complexity of modern western square dance calling and they will need some guidance and mentoring to move forward in learning how to become accomplished in this specialized art form.

Learning to square dance call is very different from simply learning a singing call for an open microphone dance event. The difference is you have to know what you are doing if you are going to be proficient. You have to love calling – singing, teaching, writing choreography and tying all of that together. And you have to believe in yourself and what you are doing and then take that feeling and make a deep commitment in what you learn and how you use that to further your abilities as you strive to be a modern western square dance caller.

A good amount of people who call at an open mike dance are student callers who are working on building a foundation of knowledge and skills. Often they have been given some music to work on learning and after calling once, they are encouraged to learn calling. Inadvertently, some new callers will feel that they are better than they are once they get a little confidence after an amateur night. But it will take lots and lots of hard work for development and understanding many of the complexities of choreography, delivery, teaching, and entertaining.

A more experienced square dance caller often will work with a new caller. If a dancer wants to learn to call, the experienced caller can just give them some music and help them learn a simple singing call. From there, it is important to seek out a square dance caller coach to advance in every way. Over time, consulting with an experienced coach is only needed occasionally. From there, and with strong guidance, expansion into choreography writing and other areas of knowledge and skills will help refine the basis upon which everything started from.

There is an awful lot that needs to be learned after that first night calling. But by working with a set of achievable goals anyone can progress in a logical manner and build upon various areas. For example, homework will be a necessary part of learning, just like learning anything else. Knowledge of choreography is high on the list of things that need to be in place to learn how to combine modules, learn to sight call, and to use choreography in an interesting and effective manner.

And practice is the other necessary part of learning to square dance call. Delivering commands in time to the music so that the dancers are able to dance and move smoothly without “stop and go” movements is one of the most important elements of the art of calling. Music is another part that is important to practice. Relating to the music and its structure and using great phrasing and delivery is so important.

Understanding square dance choreography is essential to presenting smooth flowing calls and delivering those calls well. A common mistake that a new caller makes is rushing into attempting to sight call. I teach all callers to build a strong foundation in choreographic knowledge and understanding the mechanics and formations and definitive possibilities for square dance calls first, much more in advance of learning effective sight calling and square resolution.

Singing and entertaining is yet another facet of the calling gem. For some great practice tips, go to:

https://shaunwerkelesquaredancecalleraugustrecords.wordpress.com/2015/11/28/modern-square-dance-calling-how-to-practice-efficiently/

How long does it take to become a square dance caller, anyway?

On the average, just to become proficient in basic calling, and that does not necessarily include proficiency in calling a complete square dance, it can take up to two years. To be proficient and knowledgeable about choreography, singing performance, writing great square dance choreography, and having a complete package to offer as a caller always takes longer. There are so many things that have to be learned and some of those things only come with experience.

Overall, becoming a caller takes some time, patience, the guidance of a great experienced caller coach, and lots of work and practice.

And this all starts from that one night. The first performance at that open microphone night!

Good Luck!

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.

The Sticky Tricky Singing Call In Modern Square Dance

Singing calls are an obvious and straightforward way for a beginning square dance caller to start calling. The approach is to learn some of the lyrics of the popular song you choose to use – and it is easy—the idea is to practice the supplied figure which comes with the singing call record and then simply learn the melody using the words of the choreography rather than the words of the song. Sounds simple… not so much!

I can remember back when I first started learning to call (I was young and my voice had not even changed yet), mimicking the caller on the instrumental side of the 45 rpm record. It took me a year or so before I started to actually understand the basic mechanics of square dance choreography and the relationship of how the figure supplied with the record actually worked with the amount of beats and the melody of the popular song.

There are elements that make for a great singing call. The most crucial – does the combined choreography figure fit the timing of the 64 beat phrasing that has been the mainstay of singing calls, tracing it’s beginning to the traditional heyday of square dance?  Timed out figures are quite important to ensure that the dance is smooth and enjoyable.

And another method that has evolved over time is the interchangeability of choreography in a singing call. Using figures that square dance callers change throughout the song is an extremely effective way to provide both variety and appropriateness, that being square dance calls that match the level of the group for which you are calling.

Changing dance choreography within a singing call is not a required agenda, but this allows freedom to be both creative and more diverse and it will allow a caller to use figures of their own choice rather than to be restricted by any original sequence of calls that were provided with the singing call initially. Sometimes changing choreography for a singing call is necessary if a square dance caller wants to use the music, but the original supplied figure on the vocal version is for the mainstream level and the dancers at the group dance the PLUS level. This definitely would warrant the need for changing up the choreography for the group’s ability.

For the beginner, a new caller needs to have been practicing and spending some time with several singing call figures for every learned singing call for a minimum of several months. The end goal is to reach a plateau of comfort in presenting new replacement figures that are timed well with the singing call and learn how to place the commands in relation to the allotted time space of a 64 beat musical set of musical phrases so then the caller is not reading the calls off a sheet and begins to progress. By learning the melody, understanding the musical phrasing of the song and the timing structure, then the student caller will know the singing call thoroughly and then they can experiment with altering the choreographic figures within the song. This can take time.

This progression of learning will feel quite uncomfortable and rather strange in the beginning. A square dance mentor can help a new caller with guidance and suggestions about where to place the calls in relation to the music and how to add directional words to fit. The guidance of a square dance coach can help with learning to practice many different figures within singing calls and to find which sequences are better suited for the program and the style of song that is used.

New callers can research choreography written for singing calls from books and use other figures from other singing call records. This is a good start on learning to use and change out figures for other more useful ones. All callers need to work on writing their own sequences for a couple of different reasons. One reason is to ensure that your choreography works in terms of timing and resolution. The figures must end with Swinging the Corner on the end of the figure for the corner progression to work out.

I also recommend that you check the figures available with any square dance music you have purchased. Anything that has been written may not have choreography that works out. One call left out of a sequence will make it not physically possible to execute for the dancers. Or another thing that can happen is the figure does not resolve to “Swing the Corner” at the end.  Always check through the figures with square dance checkers before practicing those sequences with the singing call, and certainly before the choreography is used in a performance.

Recording your practice sessions is a requirement to ensure that singing call performance is smooth and to test different choreography patterns. Dance the practice parts that incorporate new calls to find out how well the timing is and how the different sequences feel to the dancer.

Square dance callers that teach square dance classes will find that new dancers do not have great reaction time in executing calls and succeed in dancing a correctly timed standard singing call figure. The solution to getting dancer success is to assemble figures that allow for more time in dancer execution, in other words, simply write figures that take less than 64 beats to dance and give the floor more time to move through the choreography. This is a better approach than pushing correct timing on calls that can create stress for newer dancers and encourage breaking down.

When calling a dance party a caller does not have to use singing call choreography that changes partners with a “Swing Corner” if the dancers are not ready to handle rotating partners around on a singing call. Easy is the key to calling square dance parties. Just use simple figures that work well  for beginners and have the dancers swing their partner instead of their corner each time. This simplified method of calling less should only be used until the dancers are ready and comfortable for a standard correctly timed figure. Then apply 64 beat figures to all singing calls to pull new dancers forward and keep them interested and comfortably challenged.

Singing calls are easier than hoedown calling. They are more fun in some ways. But they can be tricky. And sticky. And it takes a lot of work and preparation to be able to perform a singing call well!

Have a great day!

Shaun Werkele

303-250-4735

Please do not hesitate to reach me if you are learning to square dance call and you have a question! I would be glad to help!

 
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.

 

Original Plus Level Singing Call Figures Using Diamond Formations

Who does not love a diamond, the most precious and bedazzling gemstone of all? Of all modern western square dance calls on the PLUS dance list, Diamonds probably are the most fun. The concept of Diamond Circulate is an easy one to grasp, yet it can lead to many unique and engaging snips of interesting choreography.

Following is a trio of neat PLUS level singing call figures that implement Diamond Circulate. The one common denominator that two of these figures have is the Boys Hinge to set the Diamond Formation up. The second figure uses a Flip the Diamond with the Boys “Flipping” to the center of Parallel Ocean Waves. This is followed up with a Swing Thru. I recommend that all square dance callers expose this combination of calls to the dance floor before you use the figure in a singing call as this is not a “plain vanilla” combination for most dancers. Fun and different PLUS square dance calling!

 

CALLING TIP! Keep all of your square dance choreography to your email or scan and store them in Onedrive or Dropbox to make convenient access when you are traveling. This makes this resource more accessible for you!

 

Heads (Sides) Touch a Quarter &
Boys Run
Square Thru 2 Hands
Partner Trade
Dixie Style to Wave
Boys Hinge
Girls Turn Back
Diamond Circulate
Girls Cast Right Three Quarters
Boys Fold
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

 

Heads (Sides) Square Thru
Step to Wave
Girls Run
Boys Hinge
Diamond Circulate
Flip the Diamond
Swing Thru
Recycle
Swing Thru
Boys Trade
Girls Turn Back & Promenade Home

 

Heads (Sides) Lead Right
Swing Thru
Boys Run
Girls Cast Right Three Quarters
Diamond Circulate
Flip the Diamond
Girls Trade
Explode the Wave
Partner Trade & Roll
Turn Thru
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

 

For more PLUS level square dance singing call figures go to https://shaunwerkelesquaredancecalleraugustrecords.wordpress.com/2015/10/23/square-dance-calling-chasing-down-plus-level-singing-call-figures/

Square dancing allows many persons of all ages to meet and make new friends within a social environment that is safe, festive and musical.

Now is the time to check into square dance lessons for any and all that you know. September is National Square Dance Month and traditionally this is the time to join up with others in a square dance class.

Make contact with a square dance club where the fun commences with the very first night and it is a wonderful way to create a social exchange with others. There are even local special dances and regional festivals and national square dance events, such as the annual National Square Dance Convention !

This fall season make some new friends and enjoy all that square dancing offers.

Check out an activity that allows you to put aside the stress and pressures of today’s often too fast-paced world.

If you are interested in getting into square dancing and you are interested in finding out more, call me for more information!

Have a great day!

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 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.

Square Dance Callers: How To Practice Choreography Figures For Singing Calls

Honing the skills of a square dance caller takes practice! When calling a dance, one element that needs to be constantly monitored by the caller is the amount  of beats of music that each figure takes and the caller must have a lot of knowledge about how to make the timing of the calls be delivered in a smooth and relaxed style. Note, there are two different things going on when the music is playing.

The first is the delivery of the square dance call by the caller. Almost immediately following the call is the execution of the choreography by the dancers. The square dancers perform the movement in rhythm with the musical beats as they are dancing.

Furthermore, the object of delivering the calls in good and sufficient time is to allow the dancers to dance to that music in time. Record yourself and analyze your execution of the calls and within the phrasing of the music, first by listening to your vocal delivery of the calls and then get up and actually dance to the called excerpt. Feel how the dancers would move to the calls with the beat of the music.This will improve your timing and delivery of the calls as if you were actually at a square dance.

Take a few minutes and apply this technique to these three brand new original choreography break singing call figures that work really well for practicing square dance callers:

CALLING TIP! Integrate the more difficult  choreography for PLUS level singing call breaks in the hoedown portion before you actually call the singing call to the dancers!

Heads (Sides) Half Sashay
Sides Lead Right
Swing Thru
Boys Run
Load the Boat
Pass Thru
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

Heads (Sides) Pass the Ocean
Extend
Linear Cycle
Reverse Flutterwheel
Sweep a Quarter
Pass Thru
Trade By
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

Heads (Sides) Lead Right
Swing Thru
Boys Run Right
Three Quarter Tag the Line
Girls Face Right and Circulate
Diamond Circulate
Cut the Diamond
Girls Fold
Touch a Quarter and Roll
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

Feel free to call me if you need any help in learning to square dance call, I would be glad to help.

I will be running a free square dance caller school with several free short clinics in April 2016 for anyone interested in learning or improving their square dance calling in the Colorado Region. Details will be forthcoming soon.

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.

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.