Modern Western Square Dance Singing Calls: Recycling the Zero Module

The singing call figures and corresponding modules that I put together in the previous article  Modern Western Square Dance: Expanding on Singing Call Choreography (Revisited) which was about increasing not only choreographic variety but also strengthening dancer’s abilities in your evening program by using singing call figures with similar combinations of calls netted me the nuts and bolts to very easily write EVEN MORE singing call figures based from the ZERO modules that I wrote that were in the article.

Overall, any level square dance set of calls that you program can be more engaging if you come up with some great ideas and actually USE them in the program. That really is what you should focus on when you are practicing and using MY TIME LOG. This practice regimen is designed to push you into learning and using different choreography ideas and be well prepared to deliver the calls in a night’s dance.

Related:  Modern Square Dancing: Building Variety In Singing Call Choreography

Old modules can provide new choreographic ideas, singing call figures, workshop ideas, they can even be recycled into newer modules that you can get even more mileage out of at dances. Or they can be changed to work at different levels of square dancing with some study and homework!

By using calls and combinations of calls that are new or thought provoking for the dancers, you are promoting stronger dancing through these different choreographic ideas. As a square dance caller, your evening dance program needs to be loaded with sequences that give interest and make anticipation of calls almost non-existent.

 

CALLING TIP! 
Always approach choreography writing with the newest dancer’s capabilities in mind. By making the weakest dancers on the floor your focus and using some imaginative choreographic ideas, your program will then become a learning desk for all!

Heads (Sides) Touch a Quarter
Those Boys Run
Swing Thru
Spin the Top
Recycle
Sweep a Quarter
Touch a Quarter
Scoot Back
Boys Run
Slide Thru
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

Heads (Sides) Touch a Quarter
Those Boys Run
Touch a Quarter
Split Circulate
Boys Run
Reverse Flutterwheel
Sweep a Quarter
Swing Thru
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

Heads (Sides) Lead Right
Touch a Quarter
Walk & Dodge
Bend the Line
Touch a Quarter
Everybody Circulate
Boys Run
Swing Thru
Boys Trade
Swing the Corner & Promenade Home

Heads (Sides) Touch a Quarter
Those Boys Run
Right & Left Thru
Swing Thru
Boys Run
Half Tag (the Line)
Walk & Dodge
Partner Trade
Boys Walk – Girls Dodge
Swing the Corner & Promenade Home

 

Look into taking some of your old singing call figures and rewriting them into something unpredictable. Or if you have any modules take look at them and see if you can rewrite them and come up with some new figures that you then can inject into your program and reinforce better and stronger understanding of the calls for the dancers.

Workshop tips within your night’s program should provide some new or needed choreographic ideas that can be taught quickly.

All in all, if you work on changing choreography and present new ideas that foster stronger dancing, you will have done something both powerful and beneficial to the square dance activity!

Best Regards,
Shaun Werkele
303-250-4735

 

 

 

Mission Statement: The purpose of this post is to create a greater visibility of the square dance activity for future dance population growth on a national and local level. The coaching information provided here serves as a source for square dance 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.

Advertisements

Classic Square Dance Singing Call Figures

Modern Western square dance has a deep rooted background that is based upon tradition. At a dance, the ultimate goal is to have a great time with friends. Dancing it up on the dance floor. There definitely is a time for dancing where the dancers do not need to think too much in terms of choreography, and this happens when faster paced song numbers that bring excitement – when all of a sudden everyone hears it – the song everyone can’t resist – is used in your program. The song the dancers just HAVE to dance to. Their feet really have no choice in the matter!

Classic songs that have a timeless quality are the perfect vehicle for using classic square dance singing call figures. Traditional songs in square dancing lend themselves well to dancing because of nostalgic reasons that take baby boomers back in time and many millennials might be familiar with some of these old square dance songs. Certainly, all persons will want to participate in an old tradition of dancing and participating in a sing-along in unison.

This is a perfect time to use some classic choreography that the dancers are already familiar with so they can really cut loose. And they might even know what is going to be called next. But that’s OK this time. A classic high energy singing call is a perfect time to instill the dancers with simpler choreography sequences to ensure overall success.

Below are four classic singing call figures that make for almost mindless dancing – just what is needed to jazz up a sing-along or a classic traditional song, or just a faster paced or highly energetic piece of square dance music. These are nothing ground-breaking or unique, they simply have withstood the years and have lasting worth and for that reason are classics.

So let the dancers Have. The. Time. Of. Their. Lives!

CALLING TIP! Check with the square dance club officers about their group’s ability level and whether or not they want star tips during the dance to help in making your program plan.

Heads (Sides) Promenade Halfway
Square Thru 4 Hands
Swing Thru
Boys Run Right
Ferris Wheel
Centers Square Thru Three Hands
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

Heads (Sides) Square Thru
Do Sa Do
Swing Thru
Boys Run Right
Bend the Line
Flutterwheel
Slide Thru
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

Heads (Sides) Promenade Halfway
Square Thru
Right & Left Thru
Do Sa Do
Pass Thru
Trade By
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

Heads (Sides) Square Thru
Do Sa Do
Swing Thru
Spin the Top
Right & Left Thru
Square Thru Three Hands
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

Simple and lively and enjoyable! Relax yourself and the dancers with these four classic sequences and happy 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 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.

Modern Western Square Dance: What Really is Traditional?

In the midst of the proliferation of modern western square dancing starting in the late 1940’s there became a point at which everything changed dramatically. Many call this change the Chicken Plucker revolution and the growth in the activity was phenomenally huge. At one point there were at least 6 million square dancers in the activity and many countless persons who were exposed to square dance at parties or viewing square dance on television or in the media back in the heyday.

Square dance callers realized nationally that choreographic sequences which were used at square dance parties (one-night stands) could and should be expanded to include variations and creative and different approaches. Over time, it became apparent that major changes in choreography, musical content, and calling styles were progressing with new groups that bred a more sophisticated way of enjoying this popular dance form.

Even the need for square dance caller training became quite apparent by this time. Square dancing needed to become more stabilized and standardized, and so it did. Dancing levels were established and variations in formations and traffic patterns and methods of calling a square dance came to light.

Because of this period of extreme growth, callers began to exchange ideas and improvise new figures and spontaneity was intermingled with memorized sets of commands that ultimately led to more intermingling. Sophistication. Dancers moved more simultaneously. Square dance had made tremendous strides in less than 30 year’s time!

Musically, all of the songs evolved right along with all other forms of music as everything in our society progressed and grew. This was a much simpler time when the days seemed to be much more carefree and endless. Square dancing was a great fit for this period in the American culture, where people, honestly, just got together to enjoy one another in company in a friendly social setting without discussing political viewpoints.

At the end of the day, more than anything else, square dancing has always been about people dancing and socializing in an atmosphere of music and experiencing fun together. Within America developed a unique social dance from the root of centuries-old European folk and formal dance and evolved into an international activity that is enjoyed in many parts of the world. Square Dance has grown and developed over time in order to fit the needs of the dancers. The changes within this changing dance art form tell a fascinating story with a rich heritage which also directs the light to a bright future.

All based upon people enjoying the company of others.

To learn about the advantages that the square dance activity has to offer, check into attending a square dance class in your area. There are traditional square dance and modern western square dance groups in your neck of the woods and you can indulge into something that is socially gratifying and musically delightful!

Best Regards,

Shaun Werkele 

303-250-4735

 

 

 

Mission Statement: The purpose of this post is to create a greater visibility of the square dance activity for future dance population growth on a national and local level. The coaching information provided here serves as a source for square dance 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.

Modern Western Square Dance: Building Variety In Singing Call Figures

Square dancing has a long heritage and legacy that is still evolving to this day, much like all music and dance. Since both of these elemental traditions are combined to call a dance, using square dance choreography that is in the “classic square dance” meme will always be a home run when incorporated within  your program.

Further,  two different ideas can recombine to produce a new and innovative idea involving elements of each choreographic parent idea. As a modern western square dance caller, you can present simple square dance singing call music and along with that build the choreography up in difficulty as the dance progresses and push the dancer’s ability up as the night unfolds. You can present both new and old music and new and old choreography and build a great progression in choreographic material with the hoedown patter portions of each tip. This  is the best manner for making singing calls the most interesting and your overall program the most entertaining.

Below are a few singing call figures that will help in making modern western square dance calling a Mainstream level dancing interesting and engaging. Changing the choreography as you do a singing call by slightly altering the same choreography figure is a great way to offer great variety throughout your program without getting super complicated. Another great aside is the dancers will have to listen more carefully and they will not be able to anticipate each calling sequence.

Make sure you practice these with a couple of different singing call songs so you can help yourself build an appealing and potent presentation of the calls. Three of the four figures start out the same but they all end differently. These make for some nice dancing and gives special practice time to the dance floor by offering Half Sashay and Circle Four Halfway as choreography options. Both calls Half Sashay and Circle Four (to a Line) are Basic calls that have strong and deep roots in the traditional square dance arena:

 

CALLING TIP! Change the choreography in your singing calls to strengthen dancing ability and provide high interest in the overall program that you present!

Heads (Sides) Right and Left Thru
Half Sashay
Star Thru
Circle Four Halfway
Swing Thru
Spin the Top
Square Thru Three Hands
Swing Corner & Promenade

 

Heads (Sides) Touch a Quarter
Those Boys Run
Circle Four Halfway
Touch a Quarter
Walk & Dodge
Wheel & Deal
Zoom
Centers Pass Thru
Star Thru
Pass Thru
Swing Corner & Promenade

 

Heads (Sides) Right and Left Thru
Half Sashay
Star Thru
Circle Four Halfway
Veer Left
Bend the Line
Reverse Flutterwheel
Sweep a Quarter
Veer Right & Promenade

 

Heads (Sides) Right and Left Thru
Half Sashay
Star Thru
Circle Four Halfway
Star Thru
Half Sashay
Pass Thru
Girls Fold
Swing Corner & Promenade

 

I personally like to use Circle Four Halfway and Circle Four Three Quarters as a nice change from the traditionally based Circle Four to a Line and verily, it adds a little spice to the night choreographically.

If you do call a workshop tip within your night’s program, working in a couple of singing call figures that apply the choreographic ideas that were taught and then the reinforcement of that is a superb approach to rounding off the workshop!

Best Regards,
Shaun Werkele
303-250-4735

 

 

 

Mission Statement: The purpose of this post is to create a greater visibility of the square dance activity for future dance population growth on a national and local level. The coaching information provided here serves as a source for square dance 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.

Singalong Pointers For Modern Square Dance Singing Calls

Use Singalong Songs For Musical Energy

In square dance calling, singing calls can accomplish many things – entertaining and engaging all of the dancers in a beautiful melody or a fast paced moving beat is a great way to enhance the pace of the evening and create enjoyment for all. One way to involve everyone on the floor is to call a singalong. Joining people to sing together instills a community of togetherness and it can be uplifting, fun, powerful, and exhilarating. But it can also be a huge failure! Making a singalong singing call succeed on a large scale does not just happen.

Here are some tips I find make a difference:

Be a Song Leader

Square dance callers need to have a powerful and confident style of singing on stage. They need to be able to project their voice over the dancers even when they are using a microphone. By projecting your voice in a strong and enthusiastic way then the dancers will all be able to hear the melody of the song, stay on pitch, stay on the beat. A confident singing voice is infectious. Just listen to any popular song and you can hear this in all lead singers on the recording.

Avoid Overpowering the Group

Be careful that you do not dominate the singing on the singalong and not enable the group to sing and hear themselves. A great approach is to stop singing at times once you have everyone singing well to help the dancers “hear themselves”. It’s fun to listen some yourself too! And gives you a slight rest on the vocal chords for a moment or two.

Hall Size and Acoustics

Acoustics in a room make a huge difference. A lively venue with good acoustics helps everyone hear their voices and that will aid in keeping the entire group together and this alone makes everyone feel good about how they all sound in unity. Good sound in a square dance hall is important overall. This is why.

It is generally better to call in a room that’s a bit too small than one that is too big. If you have a room that’s a little too small, it will be full of vibrant energy and the dancers will feel like they are at something that is popular, fun, and successful. If you are in a hall that is too large, it’s hard to hear each other due to bad echo from the emptiness in the room and all will seem more disconnected and the general sense will be that not enough people chose to come to the dance. Acoustics and sound tie into another part of calling the dance…amplification.

System Amplification

Amplifying a caller’s voice and music will sound best with quality amplification. You need to hear your own voice as well as you possibly can and the dancers you will be leading will be able to hear you clearly.

For people to sing well together they need to be led. Otherwise, it is very easy for most people to fall off the rhythm of the beat or off the melody with each other. The need for sufficient amplification systems and the importance of good hall acoustics is because the larger the dance, the poorer the acoustics can be due to ambient noise in the hall, and a well placed speaker system will definitely help overcome this problem.

The less experienced the singing ability of the dancers and the less familiar dancers are with the song that you select as a singing call that is to be sung, the more important this is.

Lyrics and Song Content

Everyone in any audience often know certain songs well enough to sing them without any help with the words. This is often true at campfires and sports events with families and other groups that have been used to singing together for a long time.

The best way to have the square dancers sing with you in unison is to first give the dancers the words. Simply say, “Hey, we are going to sing a song together. I am going to need your help with singing the words. Here are the words.” Then sing the lines you want them to sing. One key to success in the group singing with you, as the caller, is using a song that everyone will know and will want to sing. Old hymnal songs and classic songs that have been passed on word of mouth are well established in folk music and some are known worldwide.

Many people can pick up a simple melody quickly if it is not too involved.

Carry the Beat

For the dancers to sing together successfully, they need to stay joined together in their rhythm. Simply, the less experienced the singing audience is, the more critically important this is. As a caller you can can communicate the beat in the melody to everyone through your voice, but the instrumental music that you call to is even more important. Strong steady beats on the square dance version of songs are critical to carrying the dance beat and the singing rhythm, and great instrumentation of the melody needs to be carried to accomplish this. Guitar, fiddle and mandolin are all popular instruments in supporting melodies in square dance music.

Drop the Beat

Another great effect to singalong with a singing call is to incorporate a capella – to have the music drop out midway through a song for the tag verse. On the Promenade part of  a sequence drop the music when the dancers start singing the lyrics. then increase the volume on the music to start the next choreography sequence. Try calling out just before you do this: “Let’s try singing a capella now!”

Learn From Other Callers

A great way to pick up these ideas is to watch others. This is an entertainment ability in square dance and takes some practice. Learn from another caller that can perform this technique effectively and work on implementing this into your dance program.

Unified singing can be powerful if used properly, and together, the dancers can create their own musical energy.

Keep in mind that many traditional songs in our culture are often the result of a song having “entered oral tradition” that is, having been passed along from one singer to another orally over time, the result being added and changed verses to the original song and in some cases, unknown authorship of the song itself! Modern square dance calling is charmed to be a great vehicle to instill traditional songs into our cultural interests of today.

So have fun! It’s enjoyable to listen to a group singalong. And to participate in one. This kind of singalong is possible to use in traditional square dance calling and modern western square dance, too!

Ultimately, square dance is about building community, uplifting hearts, and pleasant amusement. Over time, I hope you enjoy leading groups in song as much as I have!

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.

Call Square Dancers Through Involved Mainstream/PLUS Choreography Formations

Succeed in Getting Square Dancers Through Mainstream and PLUS Level Choreography Formations

Short History of  Traditional Square Dance Calling

In order to get a clear visual of the history of square dance calling in America, you have to take a look at the important role of the dancing masters. From the early times of the first settlers until well into the nineteenth century, English dancing masters would travel from place to place: staying in an area for only a short amount of time before continuing to the next town or village. These itenerant dancing masters traveled from town to town in New England and they would approach the heads of the townspeople, and depending upon the attitude and acceptance of the ones in charge, the dancing masters would arrange to conduct a short set of lessons and put on a dance for the local townspeople to enjoy. The dances taught were English Minuets, Cotillions, and the newest Contra dances and the choreography sequences had to be memorized by the dancers.

This was a huge undertaking, teaching dance movements in a relatively short period of time, and this traveling lesson/dance helped spread the popularity of country dance all across the Eastern coast, and it fostered the very beginnings of American square dance.

As decades passed, the Cotillion, a dance done in a square formation with eight dancers became quite popular on a national level in the mid-eighteen fifties, and this style of dance spread and evolved across the country. The choreography was usually called by the fiddler in the band, who would spontaneously shout out combined dance moves and directions to the dancers. Cotillions were danced to traditional square dance music that was based upon Irish jigs and Scottish reels in regional locales that joined music with choreography.

So historically, the square dance caller has a long legacy tracing back from the formal approach of the local dance master with his teaching of dance to everyday people to sequences delivered by the fiddler/callers who had to prompt the dancers through the choreography at dances. As modern western square dance continues to progress post-world war two, square dance has further matured and developed into many geometric formations and movements that work within this same old traditional framework.

Modern Western Square Dance

Indeed, today’s square dance has evolved to become more complex, and over time, calling has become more involved. along with this change there is a monumental challenge for callers to render and provide highly interesting choreography that the dancers are able to execute with success. By creating variations using Mainstream or PLUS choreography and formations and then combining a few elements to “direct” the dancers through and resolve the set back to the home position or to the corner dancer in sequence can achieve just that.

One key to success in square dance calling comes from the following steps that will lead to calling fun dances with interesting choreography:

Write a Creative Choreography Sequence

First, start with a choreographic idea that you want to expand upon and work on creating five creative choreography sequences from start to finish that you will call during your dance in a “tip.” The third tip (or other later tips depending upon how much interesting ideas you want to render) of the dance is usually the best time to use your expanded choreographic ideas on the dancers. Come up with a couple of ideas that will be quite interesting and will more than likely put everyone on the dance floor on the same level of learning – some new variation or combination of an uncommon dance move. You will want the sequences to progress and become a little more challenging for the dancers to build the interest of the floor.

Personally, I like to use Folds and Cross Folds and Tag the Lines on Mainstream dance and at the PLUS level I might use Diamond Formations that are different or variations of Linear Cycle or Crossfire because these are good for strengthening dancer’s abilities. Spin Chain Thru’s are good too, because generally, dancers are a little weak on these moves. Callers need to focus on presenting these calls more often in their dance choreography programs and the general population of dancers will be better at dancing through these calls/moves.

Spend Some Time Writing Out Directional Key Words

Now here is the part that will lead to success in dancing on the floor, and thereby allow you to succeed as a caller. Take the five written sequences of calls for the tip and type the calls out in Microsoft Word then print the pages and put them in a notebook. Notebooks work best for square dance choreography for a lot of reasons. A notebook is portable. You can write in notes next to the choreography if you want to add a new idea or you have a note that you want to address later to make a change on a second edit.

Next, close your eyes and think about where you are moving to in the intricate parts of the calls, the ideas that you know will be a struggle for some of the dancers. Focus on words that will make it easier to prompt and create directions for all dancers to where they need to move to. Write the key words out on another piece of paper. Think about what words will help the dancers the most, for example, “work with the farthest person,” or “person facing in move here, person facing out move there” and write these down as well. Additionally, refer to the prescribed definition of the written description of the square dance calls to help you with key words to use.

Now you can use this page to add to your use of the choreography. These key words are AS IMPORTANT as the choreography itself in ensuring dancer success.

Practice Calling With Directional Key Words

The key words are the KEY to making the combinations of figures work well. The directionalization process needs to be delivered immediately after the call and it will take some practice to deliver this combination seamlessly with all important words and choreography married together.

As Always, It Is In The Timing!

Delivering the choreography and the key words together in a smooth and tight manner is great, but having your prompting work together with the music in great phrasing is really when this works most effectively. All of the dancing will be smoother and your presentation will encourage a relaxed and more executable set of directions that will lead to instilling more confidence within the dancers, particularly when some are not certain where they are moving upon dancing a particular call or set of calls.

Use a metronome or drum machine and practice with the choreography this way. Then try clapping your hands and practice the delivery of the calls without any accompaniment. It is combining the delivered square dance call with the directional key words into a timed musical phrase that makes the sequences within the tip more danceable. Since the dancers feel the beat of the music and the “in time” phrasing, they will more easily succeed in their dancing efforts.

Callers should not have to directly teach the moves for the dancers to execute, however, by directionalizing the choreography variations with key words you have taught the dancers without “workshopping” the moves.

And you will look like a modern dancing master of the twenty-first century!

Good fortune to you in all of your 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.

 

Memetic Square Dance Singing Call Figures

Square dancing has a long heritage and legacy that is still evolving to this day, much like music and dance. Since both of these elements are combined to call a dance, using square dance choreography that is in the “classic square dance” meme will always be a home run when incorporated within  your program.

Further,  two different ideas can recombine to produce a new and innovative idea involving elements of each choreographic parent idea. You can present simple square dance singing calls and along with that build the choreography up in difficulty as the dance progresses and push the dancer’s ability up as the night unfolds. You can present both new and old music and new and old choreography and build a great progression in choreographic material with the hoedown patter portions of each tip. This  is the best manner to make singing calls the most interesting and your overall program the most entertaining.

Below are a few square dance singing call figures that will make Mainstream level dancing interesting and engaging. Changing the choreography as you do a singing call by slightly altering the same choreography figure is a great way to offer great variety throughout your program without getting complicated.

Make sure you practice these with a couple of different singing call songs so you can help yourself build a congenial and effective presentation of the calls. All the figures start out the same but they all end differently. These make for some nice dancing and gives practice on Half Sashay and Circle Four Halfway:

 

CALLING TIP! Change the choreography in your singing calls to strengthen dancing ability and provide high interest in the overall program that you present!

Heads (Sides) Right and Left Thru
Half Sashay
Star Thru
Circle Four Halfway
Swing Thru
Spin the Top
Square Thru Three Hands
Swing Corner & Promenade

 

Heads (Sides) Touch a Quarter
Those Boys Run
Circle Four Halfway
Touch a Quarter
Walk & Dodge
Wheel & Deal
Zoom
Centers Pass Thru
Star Thru
Pass Thru
Swing Corner & Promenade

 

Heads (Sides) Right and Left Thru
Half Sashay
Star Thru
Circle Four Halfway
Veer Left
Bend the Line
Reverse Flutterwheel
Sweep a Quarter
Veer Right & Promenade

 

Heads (Sides) Right and Left Thru
Half Sashay
Star Thru
Circle Four Halfway
Star Thru
Half Sashay
Pass Thru
Girls Fold
Swing Corner & Promenade

 

If you call a workshop tip, working in a couple of singing call figures that apply the figures taught and the reinforcement of the calls is a superb approach to rounding off the workshop.

Best Regards,
Shaun Werkele
303-250-4735

 

 

 

Mission Statement: The purpose of this post is to create a greater visibility of the square dance activity for future dance population growth on a national and local level. The 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 Calling: Expanding the Possibilities

Changing your Square Dance Calling Through Variety Research and Creativity

Variety

The music has to resonate with people in a new direction that inspires them to dance and want to participate. Part of your job as a caller is to provide variety that inspires, motivates the dancers to dance, and strives to create positive energy when you are on stage. Take a look at how you call now and re-imagine your approach to calling. Look for different ideas that take your calling in a different direction.

One step to providing some variety in square dance music programming is to use a Janusian approach. This is an opposite/combination concept,  one used by many great thinkers in the world both past and present. The concept is to combine opposites in a method, concept, or idea and come up with outstanding results. One way to apply this idea to square dance music is to use traditional square dance hoedown music for the first part of a square dance tip and then use an ultra-modern musical piece as a singing call to follow. Or a fast tempo song with aslower paced tempo song immediately afterward.

Another way is to combine easy choreography with more difficult choreography and come up with a new combination of calls that no one has thought of before. Don’t be afraid to stop the music for a moment and show the dance floor your new choreography idea if it is a little different. They need to succeed in order for you to succeed.

These two elements, music and choreography, whether they are combined or focused on in your program separately, will have a great impact on how original and different you can be as a caller. These are tangible, positive and immediate changes that you can make as a square dance caller. Variety is the spice of life. Make sure that you sprinkle a good helping of it in all of your square dance dishes that you serve.

Research

There are tons of ideas that you can borrow from both past callers and today’s callers that you can incorporate into your dance. Borrow choreography from other callers to come up with new material. Never call something if you cannot visualize the choreography and understand what you are calling. This is a necessary step to being able to call well.

Try this different opening choreographic sequence that will provide a fresh approach to both your square dance calling and the dancer’s dancing:

 

Bow to the Partner Bow to the Corner
Four Ladies Chain
Star the Ladies back Home do a Dopaso
(Turn Partner Left, Turn Corner Right & Turn your Partner Left)
Men Star Right One Time
Left Allemande
Right and Left Grand

 

Contact other callers and ask them for ideas that you might be able to use in your dances. They will be glad to help, just ask!

Create

Strive to be resourceful and creative in your offerings to your group that you call for. There is no real exact formula to being creative. But if you do not work at coming up with new ideas, then you will call the same old dance. Spend a little time coming up with new ideas that will make the square dance choreography interesting and fun.

Here is an original opening sequence that I use when I call and I hope you will find it useful:

 

Bow to the Partner Bow to the Corner
Left Allemande
Touch a Quarter
Boys Fold
Four Ladies Chain
Girls when you meet the Opposite Man Turn him by the
Left go Full Around and a bit more and the Men
Swing in make an Allemande Thar
Slip the Clutch…twice
Pass your Partner
Left Allemande
Right and Left Grand

 

Don’t limit your possibilities and don’t limit your ways of doing things. Don’t limit your musical choices to just one genre or tempo of music. Don’t limit your choreography that you use in your program for the dances that you call. Do resolve to work at providing something different and exciting to your dancers at your dance.

In order to continue to meet the changing musical and entertainment tastes of the world as we move into the future, we need to be creative in looking for different avenues. While changes in music and choreography for square dancing certainly is a part of it, maybe part of the answer has been in front of us all along and that is simply what we choose to use in our program in our dances that excites and creates enthusiasm!

As always, feel free to call me if you have any questions 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 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.

For the Square Dance Caller: Forgotten Singing Call Figures

Singing calls provide a ton of energy and entertainment to a dance and, really, modern square dance became successful years ago due to the changes in all of the modern music that was produced  at that time. But reaching back, we can see that not only did the music evolve from the traditional square dance scene, so did the square dance choreography.

The following singing call figures are great examples of call sequences that were used in the early days of modern western square dance before the square dance call lists were established and nationally there was not a union of ideas and approaches through publications such as American Square Dance magazine. Simplicity was at the heart of these singing call breaks, and the choreography was not changed throughout the songs that were danced to:

 

Heads (Sides) Square Thru
Star Thru
Square Thru Three Hands
Left Allemande
DoSaDo
Go to the Corner Box the Gnat
Swing the Corner & Promenade

Heads (Sides) Promenade Halfway
Sides (Heads) Right & Left Thru
Star Thru California Twirl
Swing the Corner Girl
Left Allemande
Weave the Ring
DoSaDo & Promenade back Home

Four Ladies Chain
Star back Home do a Dopaso
(Turn Partner Left, Turn Corner Right & Turn your Partner Left)
Men Star Right
Left Allemande
Weave the Ring
DoSaDo with the Partner
Swing Corner & Promenade

 

If you do not square dance but you are interested in finding out about the social activity, local square dance clubs offer dance lessons that are available for anyone, and they would love to have you join a class today! It is a GREAT social experience that can open your life to new friendships and fun!
Ask at your local recreation center or check online for information on square dancing clubs and events in your city.

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.

Stupid Easy Modern Western Square Dance Singing Call Breaks

Square dance callers are always looking for easier ways to call a dance, and my advice would be to use square dance choreography that has been written by others as often as you can to offer variety in your program. You should target easy songs to sing and along with that keep the choreography simple and progress the dancer’s ability up to more difficult figures throughout the dance. You can accomplish this progression in choreographic material through the hoedown patter portions of each tip. Then highlight the combinations that you called in the patter in your singing calls.

Here are a few easy square dance singing call figures that will make Mainstream level dancing interesting and fun. Easy is important, however, by changing the choreography you can offer great variety throughout your program. Make sure you practice these with several different singing call songs so you can help yourself build great structure and timing in your presentation of the calls:

 

CALLING TIP! Why not start your dance off with a classic all-time great piece of square dance music!  This will set up great momentum that carries the energy throughout the night.

Heads (Sides) Square Thru
DoSaDo
Swing Thru
Boys Run
Ferris Wheel
Centers Right & Left Thru
Centers Wheel Around
Swing Corner & Promenade

 

Heads (Sides) Promenade Halfway
Walk in Square Thru
Right & Left Thru
Veer Left
Couples Circulate
Girls Trade
Bend The Line
Square Thru 3 Hands
Swing Corner & Promenade

 

Heads (Sides) Square Thru
Circle Four Halfway
Swing Thru
Boys Run
Girls Trade
Bend the Line
Square Thru Three Hands
Swing Corner & Promenade

 

This last figure you can hear on my homepage where I am performing live at the Foot and Fiddle in Fort Collins, Colorado using “Dance With Me One More Time.” This is a classic song in tempo and melody, it is easy to call to, and is always a crowd pleaser. Consider using it in your square dance calling program. I use it often.

Best Regards,
Shaun Werkele
303-250-4735

 

 

 

Mission Statement: The purpose of this post is to create a greater visibility of the square dance activity for future dance population growth on a national and local level. The 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.