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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Entertaining With The Colour Of Music

Music naturally affects people in a certain way. It paints a tapestry in life comprised of certain colours. And all songs can evoke strong emotions in different people. As square dance callers we can be the musical agent in allowing others in joining particular types of music with particular colours.

As colours, songs are a device to evoke a strong emotional response or inspire many in lots of different ways. Do you have a favorite song that captures the essence of, say, 2018? As simple as it sounds, scientists have found that listening to particularly uplifting or conversely, sad music, changes the way we perceive the world.

Music and mood are intrinsically linked. Modern studies continue to manifest how these influences work at a neural level. Science has proven that the music we listen to engages a wide range of internal systems that reflect our inner thoughts, perception and emotions.

I would go so far as to say that all people use music to change their mood in a day, project a mood to others that might be within earshot of a piece of music, or even connect a crowd of people like, well, square dancers.

Dark and dull to bright and vivid, music has the power to paint many colours because of the emotional capabilities of a set of notes. And the instruments that convey the melody can be in a mix of emotions from sad to happy. And sad songs do not always translate as unhappy to all listeners. Parts of many sad songs will have a bright and positive melody line that offsets the minor-tinged lines and often the lyrics in songs can be both sad and happy at the same time.

Dancing to Music Holds the Power to Treat Depression!

Dancing offers a therapeutic opportunity to emotionally boost mood in a cathartic way which affects all who participate. I witness this all the time at square dances. Why does it happen? Because music carries emotional content that touches our mix of emotions. Memories often are tied with songs like we are replaying a soundtrack of our lives.

Everyone everywhere uses music to boost their mood and manage their overall feelings at the moment and in life on a larger scale.

Under the right circumstances, music and dance is healthy to all ages simply because of the emotional content and how the act of dancing improves their mood. Because music is effective for treating depression and it helps to deal with the stress and anxiety related to treating coronary heart disease. Add to that element dancing and you have an outstanding combination in improving your life!

As square dance callers we are the agent to provide these benefits and entertain at the same time. To me, I feel that makes this a great responsibility and honored place to be-calling for fun and allowing others to benefit in many different ways.

Square dancing is a social network that offers so much. If you are interested in best finding out, look to contact someone locally. There are many clubs throughout and nationally there are organizations that can help you if you need help getting information on groups and opportunities to partake in this great and wholesome 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 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.

DBD Mainstream Square Dance Calling: Singing Call Figures That Kill! (Anticipation)

The one dynamic that you can change as a modern western square dance caller in your program (outside of musical selections for the evening) is using different choreographic sequences that will ENTERTAIN the dancers at the event you are calling. Anticipation on the dance floor is not a good thing, however, calling dance moves that lose the floor and cause the squares to break down is not good, either. Still, eliminating anticipation and making what you call thought stimulating is what will win heaps of appreciation from all present that night. Calling to the dancers and allowing them to succeed through different choreographic combinations so that they do not know what to expect a great amount of the time is the best way to ensure that you are calling a great square dance!

This all relates to the old saying, “form follows function.” If you are prepared in the right manner, you will have a ton of choreography for the dance and you will implement it in a way that is interesting and keeps everyone smiling! I recommend that you use these in your hoedown/patter portion of the tips that you call first.

That being said, here is a super quad of DBD Mainstream singing call figures!

Enjoy! 

CALLING TIP!  Spend some time thinking about, focusing on and creating directional commands to aid the dancers through more involved choreography so that they will have more success and enjoyment overall!

Heads (Sides) Touch a Quarter
Walk & Dodge
Left Touch a Quarter
Walk & Dodge
Wheel Around
Flutterwheel
Sweep a Quarter
Square Thru Three Hands
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

Heads (Sides) Promenade Three Quarters
Sides Square Thru Three Hands
Left Touch a Quarter
Split Circulate
Girls Run
Pass The Ocean
Girls Circulate
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

Heads (Sides) Promenade One Quarter
Sides Pass Thru
Circle 4 Three Quarters
Reverse Flutterwheel
Sweep a Quarter
Pass Thru      Trade By
Touch a Quarter    Girls Run
Left Allemande Come Back & Promenade Home

Heads (Sides) Square Thru 2 Hands
Swing Thru
Girls Turn Around
Wheel & Deal
Step to a Wave All Eight Circulate
Single Hinge
Scootback
Swing Corner & Promenade

Some of these can be a little hard for the average Mainstream dancer. I highly recommend that you workshop these figures in a tip that themes the different choreographic ideas such as the Left Touch a Quarter and the Split Circulate and the Left Touch a Quarter and Walk and Dodge. The last figure uses a Wheel & Deal with a counter-clockwise motion and the Boys are the center. By the way, dancers seem to be weak on the Wheel & Deal from 2-Faced Lines, anyway. This would be another great workshop idea for all callers to use at their dances.

By using figures like the ones above, you will be able to also improve the dancers’ ability and strengths in listening to what you command throughout the entire night and the unique ideas centered around more adventurous choreography.

Modern Western square dance is a great social function idea that can work in seamlessly with a party, wedding, corporate function, or even large community events. Shaun Werkele calls all levels of square dancing from the basic 10-20 calls through the Challenge (C-1) level of dance. Shaun can commute locally across the Denver Front Range to your area within the Colorado region or nearby states to call for your group.

Contact Shaun Werkele today to make a square dancing a fun possibility for 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.

Plug-In Picasso: Square Dance Calling More Creatively

Learning to Square Dance Call on an Effective Creative Plateau

Before you begin a square dance calling practice session, write down how you intend to establish a basic program for the dance  that you are going to call in the near future. Choose your intentions with some good thought ahead of time. Make this element (or more than one) and let it guide you and it will establish your theme or your square dance program itinerary. Will your program be dominated by up-tempo music? Challenging choreography? Perhaps a little of both?

Also ahead of time, decide how you are going to handle injecting variety in your night’s program, using the same set of practice tools that you normally follow.

Will you contrast modern with traditional music? Workshop a few new angles on an old over-used “traffic pattern?” Will you instill fun that breaks the ice for everyone present so that they have a wonderful time?

These thought provoking elements are at the heart of creativity for a square dance caller (yes, these should be the kind of things you are considering in preparation), so during the process of creating, make sure that you are on a simple track of accomplishing your intentions. It’s simple. Just try to be aware of how your inspired ideas interact with one another. To NOT get a little creative will NOT advance your abilities or the dancers’ as well.

Related:  Panoramic Aspects of Square Dance Calling

When I first learned to call, two words had a huge effect on me when I was a young teen. Creative choreography. Once I learned about the power of creating ideas that moved people around then everything started to meld together in terms of understanding the mechanics of calling and seeing the many choreographic possibilities. And, although the square dance activity has changed some, getting creative with choreography has not really changed much at all.

Here is a great creative Get-Out idea that you can work on spring boarding and get you creating a choreographic idea or two:

Box 1-4 (Zero Box)

Step to an Ocean Wave-Girls Trade
Single Hinge
Scoot Back
Split Circulate
Walk & Dodge
Boys Fold
Touch a Quarter
Boys Cast Left 3/4
Girls Turn Around
Boys “Reverse” Extend
Left Allemande

Hope you will give that idea a try. The Left Allemande at the end helps to pull the dancers out of a kind of tricky spot quickly and then you can build on the novelty ideas of “Reverse ” Extend with other sequence ideas. Or just use it as a cool and different Get-Out!

Related:  Seven Square Dance Calling Get-Outs

Here is another simple Singing Call Figure for you to give a whirl:

Heads (Sides) Square Thru 4 Hands
Right & Left Thru
Touch a Quarter
Split Circulate
Boys Run
Reverse Flutterwheel
Square Thru 3 Hands
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

Getting creative entails one thing that you need to step back and take a look at in your own calling. Do you come up with ORIGINAL ideas some of the time, at least? If all you ever do is borrow ideas then you are not tapping into your creative side. Use your square dance choreography checkers and see what you can come up with.

One of the best ways to spawn a creative idea is to get inspired by one idea and then take it further, and that can be the fractionalization of a square dance call such as a Right & Left Thru with a Courtesy Turn a Quarter More (a simple idea that does not get used often enough). Choreographic ideas can stem from the inspiration of another caller.

Take their ideas and carry the torch a little further!

You will be glad you did. For your own growth as a caller and for the improvement of the dancers.

 

Best Regards,

Call me at anytime you might have a question, I will be glad to help in any way that I can!

Shaun Werkele

303-250-4735

 

 

Mission Statement: The purpose of this post is to create a greater visibility of the square dance activity for future dance population growth on a national and local level. The coaching information provided here serves as a source for square dance caller training, education, and perspectives on dance. Future articles will be developed to improve the programs of square dancing and how those learning to square dance call can help contribute to the preservation of both modern western square dancing and traditional square dancing and to aid in the growth of the square dance activity.

Panoramic Aspects of Calling Square Dances

As a modern western square dance caller you should always think hard about what you want to do and your role in the square dance activity. Calling at various levels – called “dance programs,” whether that is Mainstream, PLUS, Advanced and Challenge, can beckon a powerful set of questions –

Why are you striving to expand to a more involved choreographic level in the first place?

Do you have the skills to call at the higher level that you are interested in?

What will it take to advance your abilities to call at a higher level?

What will the “fun” factor be for yourself in regards to what level program you call at?

Will there be enough dancers to support a group at a higher level?

Advanced and Challenge levels are much more involved and harder to call – where you are dealing with concepts, new formations, more DBD (Dancing By Definition) dancing, and involved ideas like galaxy formations, phantoms and a higher focus on fractionalizing of complex calls.

Does your calling style even match the level you would like to call at?

If you call more from an entertaining style then you might have problems with higher level concept calling and being accepted by more critical people at the Advanced and Challenge levels of dance. Or perhaps your heart and soul longs to embrace the traditional style of square dance. There is a lot for any caller to offer square dance as a social doorway which bridges together our American musical and dancing past.

  Related:  How to Teach Square Dancing

Remember, there are good callers and bad callers at every level and within every modern dance program and even within the traditional realm there exists strong dancers and weaker dancers. Making a change “up” is not necessarily the best move you can make for yourself, even if you feel that it is. You might just be “not built that way” and you may not like the stress of the increase in calls and complexity.

Overall, square dance calling is an activity that offers many niches for a dancer to participate in as well as for a caller to entertain in.

Just take a look at the tremendous strides that have been made in the area of standardization of square dance calls that are directed at the average person, as a member of a square dance club, that belongs to local and national organizations, which meet to promote the perfection of square dancing skills and healthy social interaction.

Regional dances are still very much in evidence and universally many people gather in social locales for party dancing based on old-time, simple figures.

Empower yourself as a caller who is on the crossroads of change and advance yourself in ways that will make a difference to the square dance activity. Focus on everything you need to as far as choreography goes, and adapt to being versatile and wearing numerous calling hats across several different levels of modern square dance. Be prepared to entertain at a square dance party. Or call an involved and mentally challenging square dance tip.

Or even some traditional square dance choreography. You never know what will come along. Once I called on a golf course at night! Heck, another time I called with only an accordian player and a guitarist and it was a great success! You adapt, change and have fun yourself. If you are not having fun as a caller, try to figure out what it is that you are not enjoying about the whole thing and change it.

After all, square dance reflects the personality and temper of people – which is a huge part of their human and socially attractive, fun and lasting appeal.

Related:  Modern Western Square Dance Calling: What is Involved?

 

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 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: Traditional Ideas In Modern Western Square Dance!

When you want to spice up your square dance calling approach, I recommend that you take a look at what has been done in the past and put a new twist on it. Just think about how many modern artists, musicians and creative persons in the everyday walk of life throughout our history have piggybacked off of ideas that were previously created. Many have used ideas, concepts and inventions that had influenced them in creating directly from their own past. Very often, before they even became successful, they took that idea, incorporated it into their catalog of ideas, perhaps changing it a bit, and voila! A new and influential idea becomes popular and is used in the mainstream of life.

ONE THING!: Try replacing and inserting this simple two call combination at least twice in an evening’s dance with a traditionally based call like a very simple Circle Up Four Halfway:
Right & Left Thru   Veer Left
Replace with:
Circle 4 Halfway   Veer Left

Square dance callers can use this device to launch new ideas through creativity.  Combining traditional and modern square dance ideas is a great way to do this kind of thing. You can really spice up a program by putting a new and exciting presentation of traditional ideas within your choreography in a night’s dance.

Related:  Modern Western Square Dance: What Really is Traditional?

 

Old traditional square dance choreography figures and even the rhyming “filler” language that was used in the dances of yesteryear can be incorporated in between any type of  modern square dance figures and in the delivery of square dance calls everywhere, at any dancing level. Here is an example. Try replacing and inserting this traditionally based timing/filler word phrase and memorizing it. Then you can use this when the square dancers are executing a Right & Left Grand in an evening’s dance and inject some “old style” into the night:

Right & Left Grand- a Grando Right and a Left go round a hand and hand and a meet your Partner- Promenade ago round

Replace with:

Right & Left Grand- a Grand Right and a go and a high and low and a meet your Beau- Promenade ago round

This kind of change-up can be a “ONE THING” idea you can use in your practice regimen. Building a large arsenal of both choreography ideas and fun filler words in your performances can strengthen your calling program and lead you to improvement, raise dancer’s abilities and help out the entire square dance activity by leaps and bounds!

Related:  Traditional Square Dancing Choreography “Pop Goes the Weasel”

In the end, make it a tradition to use traditional square dance calls from the past and inject some strong, interesting and seemingly “new” and fresh ideas into your game of entertaining in the modern arena!

Related:  The Traditional List of Square Dance Songs!

 

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.

Memorizing Calls & Figures For Square Dances

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

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

Visualize The Choreography Through Mental Imaging

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

Use Square Dance Modules

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

Related:  How Square Dance Modules Work

Write Your Own Choreography

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

Related:  Creativity With Square Dance Checkers

In The End…

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

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

Shaun Werkele

303-250-4735

 

Mission Statement: The purpose of this post is to create a greater visibility of the square dance activity for future dance population growth on a national and local level. The coaching information provided here serves as a source for square dance caller training, education, and perspectives on dance. Future articles will be developed to improve the programs of square dancing and how those learning to square dance call can help contribute to the preservation of both modern western square dancing and traditional square dancing and to aid in the growth of the square dance activity.

Square Dance Calling Made Easier: Six Tricks You Should Know!

Strong Focus with a Square Dance Educator and a Smart Practice Regimen Can Propel Your Square Dance Calling to New Heights

1.  Start With a Strong Mindset and a Song or Two…

A strong focus is necessary to achieving anything in life. For square dance calling a strong will to improve will carry you far. With the right frame of mind, you can corral together your mental strengths and work on removing your weaknesses.  Performance of square dance calling takes a lot of focus to become proficient. Only then can you succeed on a higher scale than you are currently at. Take your enthusiasm and energy and launch things off with the purchase of a couple of good, solid songs with a simple melody and a strong and driving back beat. As a new caller, you will have a tendency to buy more square dance music than you initially need.

Remember your repertoire needs to only be what you can physically call in an evening. For a start, music you use right now is a path to reaching a higher plateau in your abilities, so pick that enthusiasm and make some goals!

2.  Goal Setting…

Start your improvement with goals. Make time in your daily schedule that you can get focused on calling and use that practice to boost your knowledge and vocal improvement and really make it rewarding. There’s no absolutely right manner to approach many things in life, but with set goals at least you are on track  – starting with learning the proper way to deliver calls in time, writing strong choreography that the dancers will like, strengthening your vocal performance, selecting powerful songs in your program, all of these areas need to have goals in place and a schedule focused on how to reach the plateau that you are striving for.

In other words, use a structure that aims your practice with your end goal – to basically improve your calling on an attainable and effective scale. So make reasonable goals. Goals will drive your improvement.

Related:  My Time Log Calling Practice Sheets

3.  Analyze and Improve

After you have goals, you need to analyze your current abilities and your weaknesses and objectively learn how to improve from that analysis. If you can commit to a daily practice session take time to analyze your regimen and the details of what you practice.

You should make notes about what to work on to improve and strengthen your ability. Study square dance choreography and make it something that you take an analysis on in terms of dancing – good flow and mental difficulty – and spend time studying regularly. Just taking the effort to step into analyzing the things you do will provide you the stepping stones to improve and it will at the same time prevent you from making the habitual mistakes you most likely are continually falling into doing far too often (the rut trap).

Related:  Master Square Dance Calling

Analyze what you want to accomplish, practice it. Practice your program and then analyze it.  It’s one of the very best ways to reach that place of being professional and experienced and relaxed and ready!

4.  Practice Schedule

Being fluent in anything takes hard work and practice. Your performance of square dance songs on a highly proficient level will take some time. Set aside a regular time slot to work on your practice sessions. Decide on how much time you can realistically afford to invest in improvement. It is absolutely essential that you do this to reach the goals that you have set. Even without the consideration of setting goals, you need to always strive to find a new way to provide interest and pump up the energy in your performance. With goals, all that is needed is discipline to become proficient. If you falter in maintaining your practice schedule, you will sacrifice reaching any plateau that you want to accomplish. Long term gains depend upon being consistent.

For instance, if you want to become a better traditional style square dance caller, study some old choreography figures and then add those ideas to your well of your square dance calling ideas yourself. Historic and traditional square dancing makes for a strong background for all of square dancing and you can draw from that heritage for ideas that you can always use in innovative ways. Call with devotion and reap the rewards. When you’re focused on your practice and improvement the whole learning routine becomes easy and exciting on a personal level.

5.  Study the Art of Calling a Square Dance

Callers in the past have created a legacy and a creative library to draw from for new ideas. It is important to realize that you can take ideas and apply them to your style that you are working to develop. From the traditional square dance masters in the beginning of square dance to modern day square dance artists in the art of square dance calling, learn and then use those ideas to advance. In order to improve yourself as a caller you must never stop being committed. Follow through with your plan and this is how you can improve by adding new ideas and variations on the original called ideas from yesteryear and you will come closer to moving forward.

Look at other callers and what they do. Both good and bad things. You can learn from their strengths and weaknesses in their technique, program and developed abilities. Analyze them and then take a look at yourself and fill in the wholes that will make you a stronger and more effective caller.

6.  Education in Square Dance Resources

Weaknesses are usually based upon lack of skill and knowledge. Valid and reliable opinions about how to improve can be applied to how you approach your square dance calling improvement situation. Any feedback you receive needs to be smart and honestly supportive and helpful.

Opinions on this scale are constructive, and sometimes a bad opinion can adversely put down a newer caller. Getting any feedback on your calling should come from a caller coach who can direct you in the most effective areas of improving in many areas such as selecting music, writing choreography, learning to entertain, or even overcoming obstacles such as weak teaching habits with new dancers. This is when you can get focused on improvement approaches.

Keep in mind that everyone’s approach is going to be a little different, and so is their motivation. But the discipline of working in a disciplined practice regimen with the guidance of a square dance caller coach can elevate your improvement on a much higher scale! Stay focused and be committed to learning in areas that you want to advance in.

Related:  Square Dance Calling School

This article is not a “one size fits all” guideline. Every caller will need to practice in tune with their individual set of goals, and many will need to practice in vastly different ways to achieve their ultimate end-goal: mastery of calling.

Contact me for any help in square dance caller training. Smart habits, directed goals and doing the right things to get you what you want to learn will only lead to better square dance calling for the entire activity to enjoy!

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.

“Game On!” Organizational Pointers For Square Dance Callers

Verily, all agree there is a strong relationship between being prepared and being organized. Being ready allows for you to be at your best and call the most fun and enjoyable event that the dancers will long remember and truly appreciate. For example, you are prepared to call a square dance party in a few days and you have checked your program list and you have all of your equipment ready to be loaded into your vehicle when the moment arrives. You have reconfirmed the date and time of the event with the party organizer for the party to check if there are any changes that you might need to be aware of. And when you call at the event, you will encounter a lot of things that you will not be able to fully control.

Getting a good grip on what you can is the next best thing!

So what can you focus on to keep everything in good order and keep everything prepared as best you can? Creating to do lists and following an agenda are great starting points. Below I have put together some criteria that you will want to add to your checklists to use whenever you have a dance to call in the future:

  • Equipment check list of everything that you will need to perform at the event.
  • Program plan – spend as much time as you need to put together a well thought out program of choreography and music.
  • Practice Plan – this needs to be an ongoing and well in advance organizational move.
  • Create a song list for the music program.
  • Make a choreography program for every tip that you will call.
  • Contact the party event host/organizer to confirm details
  • Create other essential checklists: what general choreography you will use for all kinds of different dances and different levels, dance level teaching checklists, even a checklist for completing all checklists!
  • Set your computer calendar’s alarm for the week before calling dates you need to remember, from an anniversary dance to regular type dance. Regional and state festivals. National conventions. Everything that you will attend. By doing this, you will have a reminder on making sure that your travel plans are well-planned in advance and that will give you enough time to buy anything you need on your trip.
  • Create an “emergency” box for the car trunk: extra extension cords, extra electrical cords for equipment, spare microphone, an assortment of electrical connectors such as quarter inch jacks, adapters, and any other items you might need like a cheap rain poncho, tape, paper notepad, blank recipe cards, extra pair of dress pants, an umbrella and an extra shirt.
  • Use computer technology to help you to remember things. If you want to remember things, put it in writing, or in a digital notebook like Evernote.
  • Keeping your to-do lists and other information written somewhere allows you to look back at it anytime, especially when you do not have an internet connection (or you have fallen down at the grocery store, hit your head and forgotten your own name!)
  • Create back-ups of everything that you don’t want to lose such as square dance music, choreography and square dance computer files and have a second computer dedicated only to square dance calling that you can count on for a back-up.

Related:  6 Keys to Caller Mastery!

Making the Gig a Success

Leave well in advance of the program’s start time, and give yourself extra time in case of heavy traffic or an accident along your route. Arrive in plenty of time to set up your equipment, test the sound, and relax just a bit before you start. Find the contact person as soon as you arrive. Introduce yourself and others who might have come with you. Take a visual tour of the area to determine the best place to set up for sound and safety of your equipment. Sometimes you might want to visit the place you will call beforehand so you will know what to expect and you can look for any problems that you will want to be able to deal with when you do call the event.

Remember, safety of your equipment is your responsibility. If your equipment gets damaged or if someone gets hurt by your equipment, you are liable. Keep your equipment away from water or excessive heat and position the cables and cords where people will not trip or get tangled up in them. Speakers need to be placed not only where the sound will be good but where they will not get knocked over, damaged, or injure someone. Make sure your table is sturdy enough to hold your equipment and not collapse if you or someone else leans on it. Make sure that you set up all equipment in an organized and safe manner.

Related:  Microphone Tips For Square Dance Calling

The Big Why…

All of these things are your responsibility as a professional modern western square dance caller.  Being organized makes everything simple and more fun for the dancers. Because you will not be stressed out and you will be ready to start on time. You will not forget anything crucial to making the event go extremely well.

“The game is on.” Once you have done a few of these square dance events you will get a better idea on what really works great and what is better left unsaid. Literally.

Whichever of these organizational tasks you decide to do, remember that you can’t completely organize your calling career in one go. It’s a long, never-ending process so be patient. But do make a decision to get organized right now then take small steps until you see some organization that will reduce your worries. Soon enough, you will be making a habit out of it all.

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.

Modern Western Square Dance Calling: Focus in Mind

For a square dance caller, a deadline can be a remarkable tool for productivity. When the upcoming dance date is around the corner and the program must be fully prepared and practiced, the deadline is a stressful but effective motivator. (sometimes there are some upsides to stress). Even the most clever procrastinator can be made to respect the looming presence of a deadline date on the calendar.

As powerful as a deadline can be, it’s not always the right tool for the job. While everyone in the real world has successfully submitted to them in the past, it can be tempting to apply the old “do or die” to everything we want to accomplish. But there are times where an arbitrary deadline can actually foul a process, limit ideas, and prevent us from attaining results.

Deadlines are fantastic for tasks with known outcomes and relatively clear paths to completion. Even if those paths are occasionally diverted by obstacles and unforeseen challenges, the deadline is perfect when we know what we have to achieve.

Being on task and on schedule go hand in hand.

But when it comes to creative processes such as those used by entertainers and artists, focus and discipline can be quite different. Without clearly defined outcomes, a deadline is less meaningful. The value is not in the finishing of a thing by a certain date, but the iterative ongoing process in satiating personal productive curiosity, giving attention and making efforts in improving and honing your craft.

“Increase your business” or “Create a better style of square dance calling” can both fit into this category, especially when the specific qualities of the final outcome are not all so clear for all to see.

Keep in mind that advancing involves more than just having a goal and focusing on the deadline. Here is a highly effective method for ensuring that you’re putting in the time and effort required to develop these process-based projects.  It is the concept of the time log.

Related:  MY TIME LOG: How To Use It!

By using a study and practice regimen like MY TIME LOG (it is free, check it out), you can both track the amount of dedicated time you spend working on your overall improvement goals and you will follow a more effective program. By noting everything in your practice routine you can keep a running total of your completed efforts. Read more about it in the link above.

Track your time spent on choreography and what those goals are.

Set practice sessions with an improvement log.

Create a notebook to access when you are calling WHAT YOUR PROGRAM WILL BE and what you need to focus on.

Related:  How To Practice Efficiently

Creating Modern Square Dance Choreography

If you need to sit down and write some choreography, get serious about it and sit down and write something. Don’t login and check your email. Keep every distraction away from you that you can! Resist the temptation to read internet news articles and check in on distracting topics that are not helping you improve. Get out your square dance checkers and take an idea and see what you can come up with.

Start by taking a look at your overall choreographic program and spend a little time daily writing some ideas that work well together. Here are two ideas that you can try in a square dance workshop.

You could try springboarding off of this fresh and novel idea of using Spin the Top in some unconventional ways starting with this simple zero module. The Square Thru sets up the flow of motion for the dancer’s hands to start the Spin the Top with the right hand. Since Spin the Top is almost always called after a Swing Thru in Parallel Ocean Waves this is a bit of a curve ball for most dancers. Similarly, the Wheel & Deal takes the dancers out to a Facing Line of Four from a Tidal 2-Faced Line and this might take some good directionalization on your behalf:

Heads Square Thru
Box 1-4 (Zero or Corner Box)
Spin the Top
Boys Run
Wheel & Deal
Slide Thru

The next choreographic snippet you might consider is using Half Tag the Line with a different twist in having the Boys leading the march by facing in and starting the move. This example puts everything back to normal quickly and resolves to a Zero Box:

Box 1-4 (Zero or Corner Box)
Star Thru
Pass the Ocean
Girls Trade
Girls Run
Half Tag (the Line)
Boys Run
Right & Left Thru
Slide Thru

Related: Hey, Flo! It’s Square Dance Perfect Zero Module Madness!

Make Practice Time Effective

Using MY TIME LOG is effective in multiple ways. First, it holds you accountable to improvement. By keeping a simple record, you can visualize how much time you’re really spending in pursuit of making noticeable improvement. Second, by programming and planning your practice time, this method can give you the motivation and discipline to keep going when your motivation has lulled. Third, it keeps you focused. Fourth, it will foster enthusiasm by starting a program that can reset your  improvement over time.

The second part of the practice regimen for MY TIME LOG is to log your vocal practice time in three ways:

  1. Rotate your song repertoire – thereby expanding your catalog
  2. Add the “One Thing” – one new idea into your practice daily
  3. Review and practice songs only twice and record and aim for improvement

Think about this: The simple act of  getting realigned and focusing on stopping the unproductive time you have spent not working on improving is enough to get you going again. Another thing that tracking and logging can help you with is actually seeing more objectively how to adjust your expectations. Understanding how much time it’s taken you to get as far as you’ve gotten can be recorded, tracked and noticeable improvement can then be realized. Finally, the log of hours can manifest within you a true sense of discipline and pride in that discipline. You have evidence of your improvement journey and you can always reflect upon and be proud of that.

Related: Square Dance Calling Performance Boosters!

If you’ve got any ideas or suggestions on how square dance callers can be more productive please let me know in the comments. I will cover it in an article or two. I’m always looking for better ways to get more done. The process never really stops.

Have a great week!

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.