Square Dance Calling: FASR Post Star Trek

Understanding FASR in Square Dance

FASR? Everyone knows what a FASR is. Oh, wait a minute. That’s PHASER, the coolest futuristic weapon wielded by Captain Kirk and company on the iconic Star Trek series. Not the same thing in square dance. FASR is an acronym used by square dance callers in modern western square dancing and to fully understand this involved and complicated concept – it can be a bit confusing and complicated – will take some good solid explanation and a breakdown of its parts.

FASR refers to the complete square in terms of it’s state or condition from an objective viewpoint – Formation – Arrangement – Sequence – Relationship.

As the square dance calls delivered change the particular position that someone is in at a specific time within the square, everything else concerning these four descriptive principles and fundamentals changes also.

Basically, FASR defines the organization of the dancers in a more technical and analytical manner. It also is a kind of mapping tool to determine where dancers are in a particular set-up, and by using FASR, modern western square dance callers are able to build choreographic ideas understanding FASR. They are able to write choreography. Understand the perfect geometry of square dance formations. And even apply FASR to sight calling in square dancing. Each area of FASR groups and defines positioning and complexities of choreography and answers many questions that clarify understanding about how all square dance calls work either independently or in arrangement with other calls in a square dance sequence.

Formation

Formations really are shapes first. The dancers each occupy a specific area of the dance floor and this is a blueprint formed by the standing position of the dancers at that particular moment. Four elements determine defining a particular formation:

  1. Shape
  2. Dancer Location
  3. Sex/Position Grouping
  4. Facing Directions of Dancers

There are quite a few formations in square dancing, the four most common being Parallel Ocean Waves, Right Handed Single File Columns, Boxes of Four Dancers (ZERO BOX or Eight Chain Thru)and Facing Lines. Other formation calls that use geometric shapes such as a square, a circle, or even a diamond or triangle (Advanced level) are part of higher level dancing, too. Additionally, formations that comprise the nuts and bolts of square dance such as Facing Lines, 2-Faced Lines, and Right Handed Single File Columns share the commonality of being shaped similar to a rectangle.

Dancer location is the one element that specifies the make-up of the square and the specific formation that is identified. Along with this is the dancer’s facing direction with regard to the formation. Formations can have variants and multiple formations within a basic formation when particular dancers are in a specific dancer positioning relationship with each other.

For example, in a Twin Diamond Formation, the Men can form a Large Box of Four while the Girls are holding the formation of an Ocean Wave. In this particular set-up, there are three formations present.

  1. The Twin Diamond Formation.
  2. The Wave Formation.
  3. Large Box of Four Formation.

The differentiating features for the three formations is the facing direction of the dancers with respect to the three formations. If the Ocean Wave were a 2-Faced Line, then the relationship in activity and the formation would change. There would be some dancers facing directly (Facing Diamond Formation) and some not, and the total square relationship would group them in a Funny Diamond Formation. The Block of Four would still be present, the 2-Faced Line would still be present, and the Diamond would still be present. This would be a variant of the Twin Diamond Formation family, a Funny Diamond Formation, and is used at Advanced and Challenge square dance levels.

The geometric shape dictates the formation name, usually by shape, and the positioning and facing direction of the dancers determines the type of formation or variant of a square dance formation that the eight dancers represent on the dance floor. Further, the sex grouping in a formation or couples grouping or even the specific grouping of persons (Centers, Ends, Heads, Sides, Couples, Boys, Girls) is a segregated part, or sub-formation of the larger formation map.

Related:   Understanding Square Dance Formations

Arrangement

Arrangement designates the dancing relationship any two dancers have at a particular moment on the dance floor. The arrangement is defined by the originally squared set positional sex (dancers as BOYS, GIRLS at Home Position) and their positioning and grouping in a formation. Most of the time, arrangement changes within a formation when a call is executed. It does not change when Facing Normal Couples execute a Right & Left Thru. The couples remain Facing Normal Couples, although they have exchanged places. Arrangement does change, however, when, for example, a Box 1-4 Ocean Wave with Boys on the end and the dancers perform a Swing Thru, the relationship changes immensely. Now the Girls are positioned on the end of the Ocean Wave and the Boys have become the Centers of the Ocean Wave.

Some calls change the formation but they do not specifically change the arrangement of the dancers. For example, if there are Normal Facing Lines and the Girls are instructed to make a U-Turn Back, the formation has changed to Parallel Ocean Waves, however, the arrangement relationship has not changed. The Waves are Boy-Girl, Boy-Girl, just as the Lines had an arrangement of Boy-Girl, Boy-Girl.

Boys paired together and Girls paired together (called Boy-Boy Girl-Girl Set-ups) are one of six possible arrangements by positional gender within various formations and most calls that involve all eight dancers can change the arrangement and possibly the formation, as well.

Sequence

Sequence relates to geometry of the square and the order of the dancers within that geometry. In a perfect world, in sequence dancers can return to the home position without running into one another. The order of the home position numbers of the dancers works in a counter-clockwise direction, numbering couples in that order, 1,2,3,4.

Every Boy has a partner on their left and they comprise one couple of four in a square. This squared set formation is an in sequence set-up and the goal of all callers is to move the dancers through square dance choreography that is interesting for the dancers and then to move out of the specialized sequence by concluding the calls within a specific formation and arrangements and then resolve the dancers by grouping the couples together and in sequence. All dancers can return to their Home Position and revel in the completion of the sequence that they have completed.

There are different degrees of being “in sequence.”  The Boys can be “in sequence” (1,2,3,4) and either Head Girls or Side Girls or all Four Girls are “out of  sequence.” Or ALL of the Girls are “out of sequence.” The Boys can be “out of sequence” (either Head Boys or Side Boys or all Four) and the Girls are “in sequence”  (1,2,3,4). All Four Couples are entirely “out of sequence.” All Four Couples are “in sequence” (1,2,3,4).

All square dance calling relies upon the successful regrouping and arranging the dancers “in sequence” at the end of a set of calls for the choreography to have a  successful resolution for the dancers.

Relationship

The relationship of dancers refers to describing one specific dancer and what the positioning is for that person and the other surrounding dancers. This is mapped by location within the square. For example, in a set-up of Facing Lines, whichever Girl is paired with the number one Man in the square, this makes a location description of which Girl is the partner of that Boy. There are four Girls in the square, any of the four can be with that particular man – it may be with his Partner, his Right-Hand Lady, his Opposite Lady, or with his Corner Lady.

Relationship is specific in an Arrangement in a Formation and the Relationship must be identified for the dancers to be resolved In Sequence.

FASR requires identifying all four of these interrelated components that comprise the working parts of square dance choreography and square dance calling in general. Both the creation of square dance modules and sight resolution depend entirely on FASR!

To conclude this, FASR’s are all working, Spock. Beam us up Scottie!

Shaun Werkele

303-250-4735

Please do not hesitate to reach me if you need a square dance caller coach 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.

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Square Dance Calling: How to Engage

Create a Festive and Positive Environment at the Square Dances that You Call

If you want to be well remembered and really get the square dancers at your event engaged, you need to make your square dance calling presentation fun and enjoyable. Without coming off as old-fashioned, corny and, even worse, not projecting a sense of trying too hard and appearing overly eager to please your group of dancers., being dynamic and engaging could take a little work on your behalf. And if you follow some simple guidelines, then you will do a lot better!

A good performance at a dance or event lacks getting stressed out. This leads to an end result of failing to perform all that well. Luckily, calling a great square dance is something that can be practiced and perfected. Focusing on being interesting is a great start, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun night to your square dance crowd.

Start Off Right

At the beginning of the night, you are new to the entire square dance club. There is little rapport, no trust in your ability as you have not called yet, and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the dancers that have come know you personally, the style of your calling will be a little foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the dance floor right at the beginning. The first tip is all about connecting and feeling the dancers out on their abilities and strengths in terms of choreography. You want to engage, it doesn’t matter what you particularly do, you just need to connect with everyone on a warm and personal level. Laughter, calling a fun little quip on a Flutterwheel, whatever you can do to get all of the dancers out of that initial feeling of indifference with you. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers to start a night’s dance, but generally speaking, the most successful callers utilize one of these tactics:

  • Surprise the entire dance floor
  • Provide a few simple yet unexpected square dance get outs
  • Drop a bombastic statement after squaring up the dancers
  • Say an interesting and fun anecdote
  • Tell a short joke
  • Open up with a short childhood story that has a humorous ending
  • Quote a famous person and elaborate on it from some personal experience
  • Use an interesting or inspirational bit of nostalgia
  • Mention something significant about a recent sports team or recent social event

Just remember if you use an engaging tactic that you need to keep whatever you do short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction. Strive to keep things light and consistent. Famous speakers throughout all of history have known the importance of keeping their words short and simple and in projecting well thought out sentences packed with focused meaning. To be effective, you must not meander or carry on for too long and lose the attention of the dancers. They came to dance! Allow them to do so, and on a grand scale!

Build a Choreographic Program

Ease the dancers into more involved square dance choreography by focusing on building upon modules that you can combine and then make those more involved. Important choreographic ideas need to be presented with a constant and smooth presentation throughout the night’s program. Once you’re done warming up the crowd with the initial first tip, you can ease them into important choreographic ideas that you will be presenting. This begins with tip number two. Keep the same consistent presentation style in your calling all night. You need to have a specific structure that you won’t deviate from too much at any given point. Everything will go easier if you just keep things interesting and engaging and efficiently creating an enjoyable atmosphere for everyone present is key.

Focus On Excitement

From an entertaining viewpoint, if you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there throughout the entire evening. A good game plan consists of several important singing calls that need to be performed well. This means working up a few singing calls that you are able to engage well with and perform well in terms of singing and entertaining.

Avoid Lengthy Announcements

With the club announcements there is a strong tendency to lose the audience fairly quickly, and after 3-4 minutes it certainly can become a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting or standing and listening to lengthy talk, some of the items will become watered down and the core details will leave the dancers in the audience with little information to take away from the whole announcement time. To avoid rambling, direct all dancers to the flyers displayed on the tables nearby for more complete details on upcoming dance events and let everyone get back to dancing. Truth is, if your flyer is good, then they will see it and want to attend your future dance.

Create a strong structure for your program. Start with the ice breaker, introduce basic and simple choreography concepts at the beginning, elaborate on lesser used various choreographic ideas (like some ideas from the Circulate and Tag the Line families of calls) add interesting and fresh combinations of those ideas, use those ideas in singing call choreographic figures, and leave your dancers at the end of the night with a positive and “good feeling” takeaway message. Ideally, everything you call needs to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are reading an exciting novel chapter by chapter.

Related:  Singing Call Choreography

Use Short and Effective Square Dance Modules

Sometimes you will lose the dancers somewhat in more involved choreography, calls that are used less, and more creative and different abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel everyone back in by calling some good, old-fashioned and simple, basic choreography. Incorporate a sing-along singing call that engages everyone and eases any tension that might have crept into the air from too much difficult choreography.

Make short choreographic sequences that are easier to resolve to the corner and most people are more than familiar with. By making choreography look simpler, not only will you help your dancers get a better understanding of the dance calls by enabling them to visualize the figures more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you and them.

Related:  Square Dance Choreography Methods with Dancers

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation of square dance calling, one that is both memorable and fun. It takes a lot of work and practice. And dedication.

Be sure to work on your square dance calling skills daily and feel free to call me at any time. I will 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.

Modern Western Square Dance Caller Teaching Guidelines

A great deal of square dancers who are interested in square dance choreography become callers or consider becoming callers because they are fascinated and intrigued by choreography. This is a good platform to build off of. However, not many modern western square dance callers are trained to teach choreography to persons in classes learning to dance. Teaching is an important part of actual calling, but the approaches of teaching square dance is often neglected. One reason is the focus is on actually learning to call a dance as opposed to working on a complete overall program of square dance calling.

So the objective standpoint of a person learning to call is to understand the framework of teaching and why great square dance teachers are so vital to the square dance activity. The first thing to take a look at to understand teaching is to understand learning. There are several learning styles, but the four basic types are:

  • Visual (spatial): You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
  • Aural (auditory-musical): You prefer using sound and music.
  • Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
  • Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.

As a square dance caller, you will need to first determine your learning style preference and then examine how you actually teach. If you learn well aurally, then you will be a better fit for teaching square dancing to students in classes and to dancers at dance functions. The reason for this is square dance is a listening experience first, and a dancing experience second. Most teaching for square dance works in this manner.

Verbal communication is the most effective way to present choreography and its definitions and corresponding formations and descriptions. To be a good teacher you need to refine your communication skills and know the calls well – the mechanics, starting and ending positions, explain the changes in positions and formations, and be great at combining the calls together well in choreographic sequences that flow.

Further, visual learning is another huge part of the process in a square dance class. The dancers can see the formations and how to perform some calls when they are simply watching the active persons in their square perform the new calls. After a teaching tip is completed, many students in a class will ask questions about how to execute some call that they have just been exposed to. The best approach in this situation is to ask a few experienced dancers to demonstrate the call and allow visual learning to occur along with reviewing the definition and mechanics involved. This is a strong and robust visualization for many beginners and it is extremely effective.

Another effective tool for teaching dancers is supplying the dancers with a modern square dance instruction booklet. These will be a great help in understanding descriptions and the pictures of dancers performing the calls provide a great visual reference. By using visual methods in addition to aural learning, new dancers will succeed a lot more and have a much better understanding of the choreography. Reinforcement of the calls on a list is a great way to show the dancers their progress and measure their comprehension of the calls and formations, figures and basic mechanics of square dance.

Always present new calls in a class with a complete description of the mechanics of the call along with a detailed and complete definition. As a new caller teacher, you will need to make a list of many choreographic possibilities to teach your square dance students. Start with the basic formations from which to dance the call and build upon that with different variations and beginning and ending positions. Formations are the same. Introduce with the most simple formations and expand into more involved ones. For example, the Static Square is the first one taught. One of the last formations taught at Mainstream level dancing is the Tidal Wave and Tidal 2-Faced Line.

Put some thought into figures and arrangements that you will teach so that the dancers learn optimally. One approach is to teach and present the calls in a way that the students will hear the calls being used by other callers once they graduate from class. Build upon that and then add variations as the dancers progress in understanding the choreography.

Aside from the above pointers, newer callers can also listen to teaching presentations by attending an ongoing square dance class with an established caller. Weekly. The learning opportunities are great when you are able to study the teaching approaches that an experienced caller can show you. Just be particular about who you learn from and how their approach to teaching works. Observe and take notes if you feel the need to. A good caller teacher can give you good teaching habits. Here is some great information on  Creating Square Dance Choreography to give you some ideas on understanding choreography creation.

Most people teach in the same manner that they have a propensity to learn. Whatever learning style they prefer is how they will convey their perception of an idea. Teaching students and expanding their potential by drawing from all of the learning styles is your best bet, and you need to be analytical in studying the mannerisms and habits and methods that your mentor caller uses during the class sessions. By observing, you will see why calls are taught in a particular order, the struggles the dancers have in learning certain moves, and how to effectively reach the students in the class with proper wording and strong teaching skills.

Ask questions of established callers who teach and look for good advice. The best way to learn how to teach is to be offered the chance to teach a specific call on several sessions at an ongoing class and then receive critical feedback from the caller-teacher. This is necessary to travel down the road to improvement. Check into this article on creating choreography:

https://shaunwerkelesquaredancecalleraugustrecords.wordpress.com/2016/02/12/best-guide-for-creating-a-unique-square-dance-choreography-sequence/

Analyze the methods that you observe and apply those approaches to what you want to be as a teacher. Practice ways to teach a particular call when you arrive at a good understanding of what is involved in both learning for the dancers and teaching for you, as a caller. Record yourself teaching a call. Analyze your teaching method and verbal approach. Did you give a clear description and instruction for the call you were teaching? Teach a call or two at a class with an experienced caller so that you get experience and advice on how to improve. Ask the more experienced caller if he can allow you to do this.

Keep in mind that every student in a square dance class will learn differently than you did. Everyone learns differently and you will need to accommodate for those differences. Understand the definitions and mechanics and different possibilities for the various calls that you teach or eventually may teach. Analyze your teaching methods. Use different teaching perspectives and approaches as mentioned above to allow for many learning styles for your classes that you will teach. Great teaching is vital and essential to dancer’s success and enjoyment in the activity!

Lastly, attend a square dance caller school to get more help in all areas of the art of square dance calling! I am offering a free class on May 21,2017 for a beginner’s ground level 3 hour session. Call for more details.

Please feel free to contact me if you are learning to square dance call and you have a question or need some help!

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 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.

Great And Original Choreography For Square Dance Singing Calls

Modern western square dance callers begin every dance by testing the capabilities of every dancer in every square, for everyone who has come through the door at every dance has an established dancing level. The primary objective is to present choreography that “breaks the ice.”  Additionally, this beginning part of the dance sets the pace for the rest of the evening on a social level – to get everyone out and mix, mingle and commence the gathering of fun with others. The ultimate goal is to straddle a line between dancing fun and engagement and you are feeling the waters in terms of everyone’s dancing ability – all of this while still providing choreographic interest for all. More involved and unique modern square dance choreography is something that should be presented more into the second tip of the night and expanded further on through the night’s program.

Below is a nice foursome of original and interesting Mainstream square dance singing call sequences that you can start using after the first
tip of the evening.

Just a little different from the normal run-of-the-mill figures that are used by most callers. I encourage you to use figures that will put a little challenge into your dancing program and this will be a great move – to instill originality and improve the dance ability on the floor.

 

CALLING TIP! Be prepared to either increase or decrease the level of difficulty at any dance by studying many choreographic possibilities ahead of time. Having ideas ahead of time will make it easier to adapt your choreographic program as you need to.

Heads (Sides) Promenade Halfway
Star Thru
Pass Thru
Step to an Ocean Wave – Girls Trade
Girls Run
Half Tag (the Line)
Scootback
Split Circulate Twice
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

Heads (Sides) Right & Left Thru
Star Thru
Double Pass Thru
First Couple go Left
Next Couple go Right
Pass the Ocean
Recycle
Star Thru
Slide Thru
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

Heads (Sides) Lead Right
Touch a Quarter
Split Circulate
Scootback
Walk & Dodge
Partner Trade
Pass the Ocean
Boys Circulate & Girls Trade
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

Heads (Sides) Pass the Ocean
Those Girls Trade
Extend the Tag
Girls Trade
Recycle
Veer Left
Boys Circulate & Girls Trade
Half Tag the Line
Scootback
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

These figures are NOT difficult in positioning, however, they are NOT normal everyday singing call figures, either…and they are NOT predictable. These will strengthen any group of dancers in listening better and dancing more of the calls that do not get called as often as they should.

Try these out, they will come in handy when you have a dance with a bunch of really sharp dancers who are looking a little bored. You will also find that this choreography cannot be anticipated and therefore will be suitable for growth in all dancer’s capabilities long-term and that’s everywhere you might gig at any Mainstream level dance!

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 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.

Microphone Techniques For Modern Square Dance Calling

Improve Sound Quality at Square Dances Through Better Microphone Technique!

Practically all modern western square dance callers don’t practice their microphone technique enough, and for this reason alone, sometimes nice voices do not get the performance exposure that they should. Poor sound quality on a sound system leads to weak communication with the dancers, and bad microphone technique when performing live is a great deal of the problem. The square dance calling art, which is a combination of singing and speaking, must also have a combination of correct microphone technique and a basic knowledge of sound systems that are used in square dance venues and, when combined, will result in clear and beautiful sound that enhances any square dance performance.

In order to entertain, communicate, and teach, every caller has to use their voice. This is an instrument (although some do not see it as such) that is processed through a microphone and an amplifier, then through speakers, and then out to the ears of the dancers so that the communication between caller and dancers becomes complete. Enjoyment and dancer success depends upon this clarity. So how is this accomplished consistently? Through good technique and efficient equipment.

Microphone Selection

Some callers have their own personal preference for a microphone, but uni-directional microphones are the most commonly used in the square dance realm. They are more sensitive than omni-directional microphones and they work quite dynamically in response to vocal sounds from your mouth. Another great thing about uni-directional microphones is they are less susceptible to feedback and “bleed” from outside noises such as music emanating from the speakers as you call. For this reason uni-directional mics are superior in calling in larger venues or at larger festivals in local regions.

Here is more information about different types of microphones

There are also normal wired microphones and wireless versions, both kinds can be hand-held or placed in a stand. The freedom to move around more is the advantage of using a head-set microphone, and they are useful for callers who need to dance and call at the same time. For singing call performance, however, the head-set is restricting in allowing for many singing microphone techniques.

Microphone Techniques

Clear communication is the most desired result of great microphone technique. Teaching and hoedown calling require smooth enunciation and clear projection. There are moments when you will be using less or more volume with your voice, singing higher or lower notes, or even whispering. Practice using different distances and positions to see how using the mic creates different effects. The most common mistake made by newer callers is when they hold the microphone too close or too far from their mouth. This results in all calling sounding muffled and distorted, too distant, or no audible recognition for everyone on the dance floor.

Since most square dance callers use uni-directional mics, the most primary rule is to hold the microphone horizontally at a 45 degree angle in relation to the ground and point the head at their mouth about an inch away. Any other way will lead to a thin and nasally sound that is not desirable. Practice working on this correct technique in your rehearsal time in front of a mirror to see and, of course, hear the  improvement.

Volume levels can be tricky, for if the sound is not loud enough, and then the volume knob is turned up, then there is a risk of both feedback and distortion. Pointing the microphone towards a speaker when you are too close causes a high pitched noise called feedback. Overdriving a microphone with your own voice or too much volume set on the amplifier will cause distortion. Clarity is the number one thing that dancers need above all else. How can they perform the dance moves for the calls if they cannot understand you?

To avoid distortion, ensure the mic is held no closer than 1 to 3 inches from your mouth during normal calling.  Every caller will have to experiment a little as this distance varies with individuals and their natural power and ability to project their voice.

To find the comfortable distance that you can move the microphone away from your mouth, try this. Gradually pull the microphone away as you continue to call and listen to the difference – at what point does the vocal sound start to fade too much?  By doing this, you will learn just how far you can move the microphone away. The optimum distance for clarity is between the closest and furthest points. All callers should avoid moving the microphone closer to their mouth when hitting high or more powerful notes and practice using the proximity of the microphone to enhance or lessen certain vocal effects until it becomes very comfortable and then the distance does not even have to be thought about too much.

Tips on Purchasing a Microphone

Before anyone ever purchases a microphone a little time should be invested in researching and trying out several types. A mic that makes one entertainer sound fantastic can make another one sound weak or thin and, although this can be adjusted in the tone controls using bass and treble knobs, the problem can be avoided altogether. Sometimes the problem can be in the microphone response. Finding a microphone with good bottom-end response and clarity that suits your deeper voice will be a much better long term solution than making tonal adjustments, particularly if you are at a festival somewhere and you end up using a sound system that is much different than what you are used to. A consistent sounding microphone that is dependable is essential.

In the recording studio, calling on a piece of square dance music might require that you carry several microphones to cater to all possible variables that change from studio to studio. In addition, owning a microphone for ‘live’ performance and one for ‘recording’ solves a few quality and clarity problems. Very often more experienced callers will give or loan used equipment to newer callers, but I still recommend that every caller purchase their own microphone that meets their individual needs and they can become really familiar with.

One great way to find an efficient microphone is to look on ebay and some online square dance shop websites to find inexpensive sound equipment. Both old and new amplifiers and microphones and speakers can be purchased in this way. Be aware that sometimes old and used equipment may have problems with the integrity of their sound quality. Contact the seller and ask some questions about the equipment and what the condition is for the item you are interested in. Be careful. Ask about a guarantee – will you will be satisfied with the working state and quality and the condition? Find out about the equipment’s history if it is used.

No one would be happy if they purchased a pair of square dance speakers and they were “spanked.”

Newer callers should get help in selecting a microphone from a more experienced square dance caller who can give them an objective and experienced viewpoint. If the newer caller has not purchased an amplifier, this is an area that they can use some help in, not only in paying a fair price for equipment that will last for years, but also in getting technical help from a mentor for the newer caller to familiarize himself with the technical aspects – proper use of the controls of an amplifier, speaker placement, and microphone technique. Coaching a student caller in many areas such as managing good sound quality (by demonstrating and explaining) is key in having effective guidance that will drive a student caller to improve.

It’s a Wrap…

A microphone is a very personal piece of sound equipment and the proper use of one is a fundamental principle of great sound quality. Bad sound in a hall can obliterate an otherwise well planned and called square dance. How do you prevent sound problems without the aid of a sound engineer or years of experience? Practice adjusting sound whenever you can. The more you do this the better you will become. And the easier it will become. And a microphone should be one of a new caller’s first investments.

Read more about using a square dance microphone here:

https://shaunwerkelesquaredancecalleraugustrecords.wordpress.com/2016/01/03/square-dance-callers-using-your-microphone-effectively/

Have a Great Day! Contact me if you have a question about square dance calling!

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: Diamond Formation PLUS Singing Call Figures

Diamonds are forever! In modern western square dancing using PLUS level diamond formation figures and sequences can be a lot of fun for everyone and using the Diamond Formation calls in singing call figures is one of my favorite things to do! Here are a foursome of great basic Plus level dance figures working the Diamond Circulate, Flip the Diamond and Cut the Diamond calls. These are a tad more difficult than my prior post I put out using the Diamond Formation…

https://shaunwerkelesquaredancecalleraugustrecords.wordpress.com/2015/05/21/shining-diamonds-for-modern-western-square-dance-calling/

…but if you spend a few minutes working through these, they will work fine for your night’s square dance calling program. Diamond Formations/Circulates provide interest and rarely are they are too difficult for the dance floor to handle. These first two focus on Split Circulate and 2 consecutive Diamond Circulates to change things around a bit:

CALLING TIP! Always look for singing call selections with a steady danceable downbeat, and even more importantly, choose songs that have a medium paced tempo for more involved choreography so that the dancers don’t feel too rushed!

Heads (Sides) Touch a Quarter
Those Boys Run
Touch a Quarter
Split Circulate Once and a Half
Diamond Circulate
Diamond Circulate
Flip the Diamond
Swing Thru
Girls Trade
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

Heads (Sides) Touch a Quarter
Walk and Dodge
Touch a Quarter
Split Circulate Once and a Half
Diamond Circulate
Diamond Circulate
Flip the Diamond
Boys Trade
Box the Gnat & Pass Thru
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

Or these two sequences have a Cut the Diamond:

Heads (Sides) Lead Right
Swing Thru
Boys Trade
Boys Run
Ladies Hinge
Diamond Circulate
Cut the Diamond
Ferris Wheel
Centers Sweep a Quarter & Star Thru
Same Four Pass Thru
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

Heads (Sides) Touch a Quarter
Those Boys Run
Swing Thru
Boys Trade
Boys Run
Ladies Hinge
Diamond Circulate
Cut the Diamond
Tag the Line Face Right
Wheel & Deal
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

All modern western square dance callers should try using the foregoing PLUS singing call figures in your hoedown calling portion of the dancing tip to build confidence and ensure ease of dancer execution. Part of effective calling is integrating your choreography into your entire square dance tip and your complete program that you call. Focus on developing the facility to program your own choreography and those ideas centered around your creative ideas in order to call the best dance that you can! Look for available square dance caller education sessions that focus on improving your choreography intelligence and teach you to think critically regarding your overall program.

Call me at any time if you need any help or you have any questions!

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.