Modern Western Square Dance: Expanding On Singing Call Choreography (Revisited)

Awhile back I put together a post about increasing variety in a night’s square dance by using singing call choreography and hoedown choreographic modules together in the same tip that match in similarity, thereby make dancing much more interesting and your overall dancing program more entertaining. You can see it below.

Related:  Building Variety In Singing Call Choreography

The primary idea is to strengthen dancer’s abilities by introducing a call or a position/formation that is not used enough throughout the typical dance program and then slot that choreographic idea a few times in a hoedown/patter and then follow that up with a singing call figure using a very similar basic choreographic rendition. This is all immediate and within the singing call portion of the tip.

I have written examples for each singing call break below that has a corresponding zero module choreographic idea. These can be used as an appealing and unique “warm-up” used in the hoedown or patter portion of the tip. Using simple zero modules that bring the dancers back in sequence allow for very quick resolution of the dancers and helps in making a successful roundabout for everyone to keep moving. Repeat the module a few times as you need to so that the dancers “get it.”

This way they are then ready for the singing call figure that utilizes the same unique idea presented in the hoedown/patter. Work this approach throughout the later tips of your evening program and you should put some effort into writing some more sequences that modulate back to a zero ending for each of the four figures and their corresponding zero modules below. These are not all perfect zeroes, but they will end in an in sequence, in order resolution of the dancers:

 

CALLING TIP! 
Ask the club president if there are any new dancers and what they would like to have reviewed in terms of calls that they could use some review and voila! you have your workshop tip set in place for all to learn from!

ZERO – 1p2p Lines:
Pass the Ocean
Spin Chain Thru
Girls Circulate
Boys Run
Bend the Line
Right & Left Thru

Heads (Sides) Promenade Halfway
Sides (Heads) Right & Left Thru
Touch a Quarter
Those Boys Run
Spin Chain Thru
Girls Circulate Once
Swing Corner & Promenade

ZERO – Box 1-4:
Swing Thru
Spin the Top
Recycle
Sweep a Quarter
Touch a Quarter
Scoot Back
Boys Run
Slide Thru

Heads (Sides) Lead Right
Swing Thru
Spin the Top
Recycle
Sweep a Quarter
Veer Left
Boys Circulate
Girls Turn Around
Swing Corner & Promenade

ZERO – Box 1-4:
Touch a Quarter
Split Circulate
Boys Run
Reverse Flutterwheel
Sweep a Quarter
Step to a Wave – Recycle

Heads (Sides) Right and Left Thru
Lead Left
Touch a Quarter
Split Circulate
Boys Run
Reverse Flutterwheel
Sweep a Quarter
Pass Thru
Trade By
Left Allemande & Promenade Home

ZERO – Box 1-4:
Right & Left Thru
Swing Thru
Boys Run
Half Tag (the Line)
Walk & Dodge
Partner Trade
Reverse Flutterwheel
Slide Thru

Heads (Sides) Touch a Quarter
Walk & Dodge
Swing Thru
Boys Run
Half Tag (the Line)
Walk & Dodge
Partner Trade
Pass the Ocean
Boys Circulate
Swing Thru
Boys Trade
Girls Turn Back & Promenade

If you do call a workshop tip within your night’s program, working in a couple of reinforcing singing call figures that apply the choreographic material that was taught 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.

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~Beckoning Challenge Program Of Modern Square Dancing~

Challenge Square Dancing – A Special Niche

Challenge square dancing is a lot of fun and it is different than traditional square dance and even modern square dance style dancing. It is a small, specialized interest in the square dance activity.  The entire central point of this more specialized group of dancers (that are found in not large numbers) is to successfully complete the square dance calls at this much, much higher level of difficulty.

But the dancing is not focused in the sense of participating in a competitive situation that encourages fighting or to ultimately decide which dancers are superior in terms of their ability or proficiency. Rather, the focus is on cooperation in the execution of more mentally challenging choreography than what is the normal degree of difficulty in square dance.

Watch and see…you will be amazed at the complexity that this niche of modern square dance can offer and how involved and tightly knit the interaction is between the dancers!

How It Works-

In modern western square dance the choreography is based upon learning a dancing vocabulary starting with “Circle Left” and plateauing for most people at less than a hundred calls, commonly referred to as the Mainstream program of square dance. The dancers in this square dance video are able to dance nearly a thousand calls and much more than that!

Concepts, variations of calls, and square dance formations that are much more uncommon than anyone would first realize are used by the caller to provide high interest and present difficult “dancing puzzles” that need to be solved.

There are absolutely no memorized traffic patterns for their feet to shuffle, rather the task of the square dance caller is to combine the calls together in an involved and challenging delivery that the dancers respond to as a team of eight persons in “real time.” What is intriguing is the dancers all know and are quite familiar with the basic mechanics of the square dance calls, they mostly have never heard any of the choreographic sequences of the calls assembled in these particular routines before. And they particularly did not know what was going to be called next.

 

Challenge Square Dancing Groups and Gatherings

Challenge Clubs

All Challenge level dancing meets weekly in groups that are socially joined a bit differently than the typical square dance club. For clubs at lower levels there is more interaction between the local clubs because there are more clubs and usually more dancers in those Mainstream and PLUS clubs to interact socially.

For this reason there are fewer dancers and callers at the higher levels of square dancing, therefore, there are only a few areas in the country that have Challenge level clubs with a high level choreographic program and with a capable caller getting together on a weekly basis.

Advanced and Challenge Tape Groups

Dancers sometimes form a small group that will meet regularly to dance and learn higher levels to pre-recorded live square dance Challenge level dancing. These are private and often small social groups that meet weekly to hone their dancing skills and focus on increasing their proficiency at the hihger levels of modern square dance.

Local and Regional Dances

It is common to see local Advanced and Challenge clubs to offer and promote hihger level events suited for dancers within this niche. These are organized with the goal to support Challenge dancing and to bring together more dancers on a special basis with a special square dance caller who will draw interest for all who attend the event.
Generally, state square dance festivals and regional special dances centered on Mainstream dancing offer a limited Advanced program, and Challenge dancing is almost never seen at these kinds of events. These often feature callers from other areas than the dancers normally dance to.

National Challenge Events

At all National Square Dance Conventions and most large festivals there is Challenge dancing on the program, however, most of the calling and dancing is only at the C-1 level.

National, International & World Events

The best and highest attended Challenge event is the entirely Challenge level programmed weekend for all levels of dancing at the Academy for Advanced and Challenge Enthusiasts (AACE). Assembled for Challenge dancers annually, this event emphasizes programs with dedicated dancing sessions for all levels of Challenge – C-1 – C-2 – C-3A – C-3B – C-4. The event accommodates some A-2 dancing on the program as well.

The larger overall dance event, the National Square Dance Convention, provides a program for Challenge and all of the levels of Challenge are danced within one hall that houses rotating levels throughout the day’s program.

The International PLUS – Advanced – Challenge Convention (IPAC) hosted in Europe is programmed for multi-level high level square dancing. The event happens every other year and is well attended.

The International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs (IAGSDC) offers a full program of Challenge dancing at their festivals and conventions and many local gay clubs dance several levels within their program.

 

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.

 

 

Basics: How to Teach Square Dancing

How to Teach Some of the Most Basic Square Dancing Calls

Traditional and modern western square dancing have a universal appeal which encompasses all ages and levels of ability and social commitment. Teaching square dance to young children, teenagers, adults, senior citizens, and even some handicapped groups continually draws unique interest and social interplay to this great activity. One thing that is attractive about all dancing is it gives insecure persons an opportunity to shed their inhibitions and the opportunity to derive enormous satisfaction from interacting with others in a friendly setting.

Every local square dance caller has their own way of calling a dance and just about every caller will add short rhythmic lines to add excitement to a square dance. The dancers’ challenge is to listen for the dancing directions within the patter and then the entire square will act as a team and execute the square dance calls.

Following is a short outline for teaching the most basic set-up of the “squared set.” This is taught the first few minutes of any square dance party or any beginner class. It is imperative that all directions be simple in description and extremely clear so as not to confuse anyone learning for the first time.

Both modern style and traditional square dance follow these fundamental teaching instructions:

  • The basic setup for square dance is the “squared set” which is comprised of four couples, making a total of eight dancers, who stand within the formation of a ten foot by ten foot square, each couple taking a side, or position facing inward, toward the center, to create a square shaped figure on the floor. Each couple has their backs parallel to one of the four walls in the room.
  • Within the “Set” each Lady stands on her dancing partner’s right side.
  • The First Couple is facing toward the back of the hall and have their backs to the caller platform.
  • The Second Couple is on their right, the Third position is opposite to the couple in the first position, and the Fourth on the First Couple’s left hand side.
  • First and Third Couples are identified as the “Head Couples” (1 and 3) and the Second and Fourth are “Side Couples” (2 and 4).
  • For every man’s position the Man’s “Corner” or “Corner Lady” is the woman on his left. The Lady’s “Corner” or “Corner Man” is the man on her right.
  • The “Home” position is the traditionally established location on the squared set of eight persons that everyone ideally returns to at the end of any directed sequence that the dancers move through. Tell the dancers they are standing at the “Home” position, which is the starting and finishing position of all square dance figures at all levels of dance.

Basic Square Dance Terms:

Set – Four couples comprise a set. Each couple stands on the side of an imaginary square.

Couple – Two dancers side by side, each comprising half of a traditional pairing that historically has matched a man standing on the left side with a woman directly to the right. There are four couples in a Set.

Partner – In a square set, Partners stand side by side, the Ladies (Women or Girls) to the right of the Men (also called Gentlemen, Gents, or Boys)

Corner – The Gentlemen’s Left- hand Lady is the lady standing on his left, or his Corner Lady. The Corner Man is the Gentleman standing directly to the right of the lady. Both terms Corner and Left Hand Lady mean the same thing and these two gender based position identities are directed in the perspective of the Gentlemen in the square.

Opposite Lady (or Gent) – The lady or man standing directly opposite a dancer’s position, as in the case of Gentleman number one  and Lady number three.

Home – The station at which all couples occupy at the beginning of a square dance set of calls.

Left Hand Couple – The couple in a set standing one station to the left of a designated couple in a squared set. For example, Couple 4 is the Left Hand couple in relation to Couple 1.

Right Hand Couple – This is a couple standing one position to the right of a designated couple in a set. For instance, Couple 2 is the Right Hand Couple to Couple 1.

Right Hand Lady (or Gent) – The lady or man that is occupying the position to the right in a squared set. For example, Lady 2 is the Right Hand Lady of Gentleman 1 in a Set.

Teaching Techniques

Worldwide, throughout the years of this activity’s progress, all modern western square dance callers have developed their own method of calling a complete dance. At the heart of this approach is the selection of choreographic ideas for both hoedown patter calls and singing call figures.

When teaching, all of the focus should be on the featured call that is being taught at that particular moment in the session, and not just repetition of the call should be instilled, but also the new dancers need exposure and clear explanations and familiarization of different basic dancing positions and variations of that call along with formation awareness.

The primary mindset as a square dance caller is to direct every student dancer through various positions and combinations of choreographic calls smoothly, rhythmically, and in an energetic and entertaining manner. To accomplish this all callers, whether they call modern square dance or traditional square dance, need to provide to the dance floor succinct and concise explanations of how the mechanics of a new call should be delivered without complicated and confusing words.

The process is simply:

  1. Teach the starting position (and formation)
  2. Describe the action – what specifically happens as the call is executed
  3. Explain the change in relationship of positioning
  4. Tell the dancers what their specific individual instructions will be throughout the call
  5. Give the dancers a visual understanding of their ending position of the call
  6. Devise different variations that show the dancers other possibilities that the call offers

The ultimate goal for the caller to convey to the learning dancers is that they understand the basic movement of the call and to know that there are other choreographic possibilities for almost every call ever written. By learning the rule, rather than the most common traffic patterns that are called, all dancers will be much stronger and confident in their dancing and they will be able to apply this to many different positions.

At the end of the teaching session for the new call, announce that if dancers have questions regarding the call to come seek you, their teacher, for more help. This allows any new and/or confused and struggling dancers another opportunity to get questions answered and for you to teach a different and more “hands-on” direct approach for the new dance move and how to dance it successfully.

Command Calls

The most basic square dance calling approach is to use the “command call.” This is when the caller simply gives the call, then waits for the proper number of beats of music until the next command is given to the dance floor. It is calling at it’s very simplest, stripped down and lacking any extra wording whatsoever. Command calls can accompany either hoedown music or the singing call portion of a square dance tip. Tracking the number of beats is absolutely essential to the timing of this style of square dance calling where the rhythm is so prominent and drives the dancing.

Command calling is most prevalent in the Advanced and Challenge levels of modern western square dancing where it is used to keep the calls simple and direct.

Patter Calls

Once dancers have a fundamental understanding of the new call, and they have been walked through the call enough times to feel physically and mentally relaxed with the new square dance call, square dance callers can make simple command calls more interesting by adding “patter.” The best way to describe patter calling is, along with the command the caller delivers, there will be added clever words to either provide more description of the mechanics of the call, or simply to dress up and help fill the silences that come between commands. This usually is rhythmic and directive at the same time. You can read more about how to approach directing dancers through creative sequences in this informative article:

Related: How to Formulate Square Dance Choreography

The best way to teach new dancers how to get through a combination of calls when they are confused as to where to move to on the dance floor is to advise them to watch other dancers within the square. Advise them to combine this approach by staying in place, not panicking, and then wait for the next call. By teaching dancers this method of recovery, they will better be able to dance in harmony together and they will succeed in completing more involved square dance choreography.

Rhythm

Of course, directing the dancers with well timed patter that works in rhythm with the music is a cornerstone of great square dance calling, and to not provide musical phrasing that is in synchronization with the beats (working in 4/4 time or 2-beat) will only alienate the dancers and you will not be guiding the dancers by the musical beat of the song. Work on using rhythmic and effective patter words in your practice sessions and everyone at all classes and regular dances will benefit from you doing so.

Spend some time and productive thought into preparing for teaching at classes, parties, or even local club dances. You can read more about the choreography process here:

Related: Rules for Writing Choreography for Square Dance Classes

Have a great teaching session!

If you need a square dance caller to teach for your gathering, please keep me in mind. If you need help in improvement in your square dance calling, please contact me. I will make your group’s event plans fun with an entertaining square dance party!

Thanks,

Shaun Werkele

303-250-4735

I will be offering a short and condensed beginning caller class on May 21, 2017 for a special three hour session focusing on customizing your calling style, singing call performance tips, and a one hour choreography session. See the ad flyer below. Please call for more details.

 

 

 

 

 

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: 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.

Square Dance Calling: Groovy Mainstream Singing Call Figures

“What say, you, we go out on the town and swing, baby? Yeah! Groovy!” If Austin Powers were a square dancer, he would be a most memorable and cool one, getting about in that groovy way that only he would exude with such flashy style!

Modern square dancing offers a chance to get out and mix and mingle and have a lot of fun with others, and part of the commitment all western square dance callers have is to expand on making the dancing engaging and interesting. Unique square dance choreography is an effective manner by which many callers use to their advantage to provide dancers with different combinations to provide an entertaining and great dance. Of course, you will always want to work on interesting patterns for your hoedown portion, and that being said, here are a couple of ideas for singing call figures that offer groovy success for the square dancers, baby!   Try on some of this choreography in the singing calls in your night’s program.

Below is a nice foursome of Mainstream square dance singing call figures that emphasize using the call Circulate, however, they are not extremely hard. Just a little different from the usual sequences that are used by most. Because square dance callers do not use Circulates enough in their programs. Particularly, using All Eight Circulate throughout the night will be a great move on your behalf for this reason alone!

So groovy, baby!

CALLING TIP! Your primary goal as a caller is to instruct smoothly and rhythmically, employing square dance choreography that is challenging and unique!

Heads (Sides) Promenade Halfway
Lead Right
Swing Thru
Boys Run Right
Couples Circulate
Chain Down the Line
Pass the Ocean
Boys Circulate
Girls Trade
Boys Run & Promenade Home

Heads (Sides) Square Thru 4 & Sides Rollaway
Swing Thru
Boys Run Right
Pass the Ocean
Girls Trade
All Eight Circulate
Swing Thru
Boys Trade
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

Heads (Sides) Lead Right
Swing Thru
Spin the Top
Recycle
Pass the Ocean
Boys Circulate
Swing Thru
Boys Trade
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

Heads (Sides) Pass the Ocean
Those Girls Trade
Extend the Tag
Recycle
Veer Left
Boys Circulate & Girls Trade
Bend the Line
Square Thru Three Hands
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

I hope these singing call figures will help you in your patter calling portion of the dancing tip and they are a great success for the dancers. For square dance callers a huge part of calling is integrating great choreography into your night’s dance. Over time, you will develop the knack to program choreography and all of those ideas that are centered around your calls will fulfill the needs of your square dance dance group.

Modern Western square dancing at the simplest level can work effectively with your wedding, corporate function, party, or community event. Shaun Werkele calls many levels of square dance from the very basic 10-20 calls through the Challenge (C-1) level of dancing. Shaun will travel locally to your area outside of the Colorado Front Range to call for your get together!

Call  Shaun Werkele to make square dancing part of your special event plans and set your group up for a fun and unique square dance party!

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.

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.

Modern Musical Approaches For Square Dance Callers

Modern music is an audacious move for square dance callers. I do not mean that in a bad way. What I am saying is taking a more modern musical approach is a good way to being better at what you do.  Working at being different is the essence of audacity, to be bold, daring, and to add a little creative innovation to your way of doing things in regard to square dance.

In order for modern western square dance callers to step out and make changes in their programs in a normal night’s dance many will have to change a lot of the music that they have used normally. Perhaps some of these selections date back years from today. Take a look at your catalog of songs that you regularly use and assess all of those songs. Ask yourself, “How modern are all of these songs that I use?” and then ask yourself, “How many of these old music pieces can I put to rest and how many new musical pieces can I integrate into my normal program that I call?” This is a great starting point in the process of changing your square dance calling habits.

You might be asking yourself, why bother with changing the music that I use? There are several good reasons why. One is by changing up to modern music, you project a better, more modern image of the square dance activity. Second, couple that with the positive energy that you will induce upon yourself that will result in even more enthusiasm simply because you have compelled yourself to learn something new and different. There is no better way to tackle a new task than harnessing the forward momentum of learning something new.

There still is a place in the modern square dance activity for traditional square dance music, and I strongly feel that all square dance callers should fervently include the traditional styles of music in their night’s calling, as well. This is the root of the entire square dance movement, and there is a rich history and tradition that we should always salute and, for this important reason, keep a little of this in your program always.

Using modern style music, whether it is music based on today’s top forty music or techno-pop or hip-hop or electro dance, brings on the need for establishing some guidelines you might want to follow when you are going to use this type of music.

First, avoid distracting vocal music, it can be very hard to call over and the dancers will not hear your voice commands very well.  Things that can distract such as vocals, background instruments… these parts need to be removed in order to present a piece of music that can engage the dancers more and the non-dancing people watching will love hearing the updated changes in your music from what they had perceived years ago. Just about everyone who has not heard or seen a modern day square dance, whether at a regular dance or an exhibition, will be quite surprised at the changes in today’s square dance music that is being used by more and more callers all the time.

Second, by listening to any new musical piece over and over you will get a great feel for what you want to make editing on. Make a list of sections that you want to change. Save that new song variation as a new file and set it aside for a day or two. Go back and listen and see how your changes work in terms of smoothness and overall “danceability” and “callability.”  Another neat approach to creating new and original is to mash two different songs together, and come up with something totally new and fresh!

Third, try your new music on some dancers, preferably at a square dance class where you can get some feedback on your new music. Ask if the music seemed to flow and if they could hear you well enough. Dancer feedback on your calling is always a really good thing to receive. It keeps you in touch with the dancers and you have a much better idea about what they like and do not like about your calling. The sound, the kind of square dance music called to, the speed of the songs, and your calling technique, of course. These all are things you want feedback on. Make changes if you need to, that is why you get the feedback responses from the dancers in the first place.

Obligate yourself to adding more new and exciting square dance music for your calling engagements and then you will truly make your square dance event an over the top dance to be remembered by all!

As always, you can contact me at any time you have a square dance caller question, or if you have a comment that you might like to add.

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.

Ways to be a Showman as a Square Dance Caller

If you are looking for unique ways to be a showman square dance caller or you are looking for a different approach to entertaining when you are calling a square dance or a corporate party or function then this post is for you!  Incorporating unusual, fun and even quirky performance techniques to stage engaging live performances at events is a valuable tool for engaging a group of dancers at a club or even to captivate a crowd at an event. So many times you have to be versatile in what you offer to your audience at a square dance and bring the excitement to the dancer’s night by offering a “show.” You can read more about this in a previous post I wrote, For The Square Dance Caller: Sparkle Your Entertainment! 

Many of these ways of performing as a showman were already used quite a lot by many men in the past who called dances in the traditional square dance callers style and even the early days back in the heyday of the modern square dance revolution. These guys had it right. They KNEW they needed to engage their crowd of square dancers by entertaining and holding the interest of everyone present by being unique in their stage presence on stage. Incidentally, this is one huge advantage that the traditional square dance scene already has over modern western square dancing, and that is the live music played by a band of musicians in the dance setting at the traditional dances.

With a little work at applying yourself, you can be a specialist in unusual entertainment with audience participation. Come up with the idea of what you want to engage everyone with and work that up.  You might still see to this day at a National Convention a square dance caller who will have a unique approach to engaging the dancers by playing the guitar while they call or some other different and novel idea.   In the past this style allowed for a nationally recognized square dance caller to impress local area groups of square dance dancers with a unique and special night of entertainment. But you, as a local caller can do the same and spice up your night of square dance calling by doing the same kind of thing.

Here are some great ideas that have all been used as an entertainment platform for square dance callers in the past who either performed a short showman act between the dancing or in some cases, such as playing an instrument, they implemented different things that were entertaining while they were calling:

 

  • Ventriloquist
  • Standing on head
  • Calling blindfolded
  • Calling fast
  • Changing dynamics of the music from soft to louder
  • Original choreography
  • When singing hold a note for a long time
  • Yodeling
  • Perform magic trick
  • Telling a good joke that is not too lengthy
  • Calling with another caller in harmony
  • Involving the audience
  • Playing an instrument

 

Elegant, unusual, sophisticated, sometimes even bizarre ideas can keep everyone’s interest level at a peak. So don’t underestimate the potential this can have on your ability to take your square dance to a higher level. In order to be a unique square dance caller entertainer you need to draw from the experience of watching an unusual performance or even street entertainers to draw ideas and inspiration from. Then you will come up with new ways of engaging your audience such as they have not been engaged before.

In the end, just call the very best that you can and remember to entertain!

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.

Square Dance Calling: Chasing Down PLUS Level Singing Call Figures

As square dance callers, I feel that it is our obligation to create different square dance sequences that keep everything  interesting. This is a dynamic that many callers take for granted. Moving the dancers through different combinations so that they do not know what to expect a good amount of the time is the best way to ensure that you are calling a great dance . Now this is different choreography, not necessarily hard in terms of positioning or difficulty of calls. So strive to call more interesting singing call figures and more fun will follow for dancing and the people dancing will thank you! Always incorporate different choreography in your hoedown portion of the tip to ensure dancing success on the execution of that same different choreography in the singing call.

Here is a nice pair of Plus singing call figures that you can use that both implement a Chase Right followed up with a Cast by the Right Three Quarters or the Single Hinge. These sequences deviate from the norm, however, they are not extremely hard. Just different! I like using Cast Three Quarters and Single Hinges in Ocean Waves, it moves people around quickly and re-aligns the line/wave formations in squares quickly. I have included in parenthesis some directional commands to aid the dancing of these two sets of calls.

Enjoy!

CALLING TIP! Your basic goal as a caller is to cue your dancers through the various figures and floor patterns smoothly and rhythmically, particularly if the choreography is challenging and unique!

Heads (Sides) Square Thru 4 Sides Rollaway
Swing Thru
Boys Run Right
Pass Thru
Chase Right (when you meet this Girl)
Cast Right Three Quarters
Split Circulate
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

Heads (Sides) Square Thru 4 Sides Rollaway
Swing Thru
Boys Run Right
Pass Thru
Chase Right (when you meet this Girl)
Single Hinge
Scootback
Walk & Dodge
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

Again, as always, you need to use the foregoing singing call figures in your patter calling portion of the dancing tip to guarantee great success for the dancers. Part of learning to call is integrating your choreography into your entire square dance tip that you call. As you become more experienced, you will develop the facility to program choreography, or at least those ideas centered around your calls, in order to meet the needs of your dance group.

Modern Western square dancing at the very basic level can integrate seamlessly with your corporate function, party, wedding, or community event. Shaun Werkele calls all levels of square dancing from the basic 10-20 calls through the Challenge (C-1) level of dance. Shaun can travel locally to your area outside of the Colorado region to call for your group.

Contact Shaun Werkele today to make square dancing a major part of your event planning process and see how easy and fun a square dance party can be!

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.

National Chain Down the Line Week!

Modern Western Square Dancing at the National Square Dance ConventionSeptember is National Square Dance Month so if you know of anyone that would be interested in the fun and social aspects of the square dance activity please invite them to partake in some square dance lessons and let the fun begin!

 

I am personally declaring Chain Down the Line as the national square dance call of the week! Chain Down the Line is a great call at the Mainstream Level to use in singing calls, particularly the slower paced ones. The men courtesy turning the ladies adds an elegant style move that falls in line with romantic love song based singing calls.

Here are a couple of original Chain Down the Line singing call choreography figures that I put together for anyone who is a square dance caller.

CALLING TIP!
Always call in your patter beforehand any unusual choreographic sequences that you would like to use in your singing calls. This will definitely allow for higher success and less stress for the dance floor!

Enjoy!

Heads (Sides) Square Thru 4 Hands
Swing Thru
Girls Turn Around
As Couples Trade
Tag the Line Face Right
Chain Down The Line
Slide Thru
Swing Corner & Promenade

Heads (Sides) Square Thru 4
DoSaDo
Swing Thru
Boys Trade
Boys Run Right
Chain Down the Line
Pass the Ocean
Recycle
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

I recommend that you call the first sequence in your patter call and cue the dancers to pass right shoulders on the Tag the Line Face Right. If they pass left shoulders, not only have they completed the call incorrectly, the Ladies will not line up to complete the Chain Down the Line.

There will be no difficulties on the second figure, it is very straight ahead and normal in the choreography.

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 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.