Styling of Square Dance Movements

Incorporating Style When Square Dancing

Dancing is about a lot of things if you think about it. It is about everyone’s fulfillment of the basic human need to have fun and this is accomplished in many ways. Moving to the music. Enjoying the cooperation of other dancers and succeeding in getting through the choreography. Exhibiting beauty, style and grace. Enjoying the social aspects of getting together. As a square dancer, you need to know the calls (choreography) but you also want to look good while you are doing the movements to the music. As a caller, you need to know what to teach that involves good styling and timing and how to present that to your group.

But what exactly are the basic elements that determine style in square dancing? The most prominent and the least thought of is the enjoyment that dancers derive from dancing and the extent to which this enjoyment is reflected not only in their facial expressions, but in their body movements that display the relaxed and emotional feelings that can be seen while they dance.

All dancing requires proper posture, a gliding smooth step, and a gentle grasp with other dancers, or occasionally a more firm grasp, when necessary. Square dance is a simple dance in terms of mechanical difficulty, and it is a joy to perform the movements on the dance floor when the calls are executed in a rhythmic, graceful manner and with body control.

Learning the steps of a square dance call or figure is only part of the dance. Learning the mechanics of the choreography is the bare minimum achievement to succeeding in being accomplished and dancing with confidence. Add to that some graceful styling moves and anyone’s self-confidence will become inspiring.

I have listed some highly important styling considerations that are used in both modern square dancing and traditional square dancing, and these are outlined below. Keep these in mind whenever you are teaching a square dance class so that you can foster strong and beautiful dancing for persons new to the activity:

  • The square dance step should be an easy, smooth gliding shuffle step that is kept short. It is a soft sliding movement that advances the dancer forward in a walking manner and at the end of each forward slide, the heel drops gently to the floor.
  • Standing erect and with good posture is at the essence of style and applies to all dance movements. When circling around in a square, avoid twisting the torso from one side to another. Some women who wear the classic dress (square dance costume)  with lush petticoats underneath their colorful and ornate skirts will twist as they circle to display the beauty of the skirts, and this is quite acceptable, however, doing this is a more advanced move and it takes practice to do well.
  • In honoring the partner, the man bows slightly from the waist as his partner, the woman curtsies by pointing the left foot, toe first, touching the floor right leg slightly bent in an elegant manner. The lady’s right arm is extended and often the right hand will hold her skirt.
  • When a man swings a lady, the swing finishes with the lady unfolding to the right side of the man, so that both dancers stand side-by-side in couple position, facing in the same direction.
  • When swinging a lady, the man supports her firmly with his right arm around her waist and when turning around each other, the move is smooth and relatively quick, but without pushing her around with undue roughness.
  • When standing in couple position, the inside hands should be joined, with the man’s palm facing up and the lady’s palm down. In certain cases and when some more advanced calls and figures require it, where the couple consists of two people of the same sex, the left-hand dancer turns the palm up and the right-hand dancer turns the palm down. Arms should be bent, with the hands held slightly higher than the elbow.
  • When a call such as Box the Gnat or California Twirl is used, the lady will be turning under the man’s extended arm held high. Hands are held loosely, with the fingers pointing up for the man and down for the lady. Only slight pressure is used as the hands revolve around each other. This firm yet gentle move takes practice and some dancers will twirl at the end of a swing.
  • When using forearm turns, each dancer holds the inside of the other dancer’s forearm in a loose style that requires the two to be almost at the same angle that is in line with their shoulders lining up. The thumb is kept close to the entire hand that is used for this.

Nationally, it has become accepted to dance with the handshake and the arm turn with the forearm for almost all figures used in a square dance. Some local areas have their own customs that they have developed when using styling. In traditional square dancing these general rules are followed, but there are some exceptions in Contra style dancing and specialty figures that have to be taught at that particular moment. For older dancers in age some styling is altered to accommodate their limited ability to move as freely as they once did.

As a square dance caller, it is your responsibility to teach dancers to be as good of a dancer as they can be. Take time to demonstrate with an experienced “angel dancer” the correct ways to incorporate style into every student’s dancing as they progress through the set of lessons. Style is not hard. It should be taught as the best way for dancers to demonstrate their pleasure in celebrating together as they fulfill a basic need to have social fun and fellowship with others and to exhibit the beauty of dance.

Even something as simple as square dancing.

 

Best Wishes!

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.

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Square Dance Caller: Engage With Dynamic Singing Call Figures

The one dynamic that you can change as a modern western square dance caller in your dance program outside of the 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 interesting is what will win heaps of appreciation from all present that night. As a square dance caller it is necessary and crucial to allow the dancers to succeed through different choreographic combinations that they do not know what to expect a great amount of the time, and this is one of the best ways to ensure that you are calling a great square dance !

If you are prepared, and prepared in the right manner, you will have a ton of choreography for the dance that is not too difficult and you will implement it in a way that is interesting and keeps everyone smiling!

That being said, here is a duo of Mainstream singing call figures that you can use that are not the “usual” thing. And they are pretty basic in dancing level incorporating Walk and Dodge, Single Hinge and Recycle.

Enjoy!

CALLING TIP! Spend some time creating directional commands and practicing the delivery of those commands to aid the dancers through more involved choreography so that they will have more success and enjoyment!

Heads (Sides) Square Thru 4 Sides Rollaway
Swing Thru
Boys Run Right
Pass the Ocean
Recycle
Square Thru Three Hands
Trade By
Swing Corner and Promenade Home

Heads (Sides) Box the Gnat
Slide Thru
Slide Thru again
Pass the Ocean
Swing Thru
Single Hinge
Girls Walk – Boys Dodge
U-Turn Back
Square Thru Three Hands
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

 

Modern Western and Traditional square dancing at the very basic level can intermingle harmoniously with your corporate function,  barbeque , wedding, or church or community event. Shaun Werkele is a square dance caller who entertains in all levels of square dancing from the very basic Mainstream calls on through the Challenge (C-1) dance level. Shaun tours locally in Colorado and to nearby areas outside of the Colorado region such as Nebraska, Kansas, Utah, and Oklahoma to call for your group.

Make square dancing a major part of your event or festival plans 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.

Springfield National Square Dance Convention in 2015

Here’s some helpful information about the 64th National Square Dance Convention coming to Springfield, Massachusetts in 2015!

The National Square Dance Convention will take place June 24 – June 27, 2015 at the MassMutual Center in 2015 as a major event for the year in the state of Massachusetts. “Experience New England”

The large MassMutual Center will provide a great amount of area for all of the square dancing and entertainment with just under 100,000 total square feet and the venue is backed by quite a few local hotels that total more than 2,500 hotel rooms in Springfield and more than 1,100 downtown area accommodations within 5 minutes walking distance of the center.

The City of Springfield has a very thorough bus system. You may contact the Springfield Bus Terminal located at 1776 Main St Springfield MA 01103 at: (413) 781-3320. Of course there are taxi and other ground transportation options available.

The main parking garage is located in close range across from the center, whether you choose to use private flat parking lots, metered car street spaces, or locally managed vehicle parking garages.


Springfield Square Dance Parking
has more information about available parking in the vicinity around the MasssMutual Convention Center and the downtown area of Springfield MA.

For The 64th National Square Dance Convention events, please use the main entry located near the corner of Main Street and Falcons Way.

For general entrance into this grand square dance event, please use the MassMutual box office entry located on Falcons Way. The elevator for ADA and other transport is also located at this entrance. The flooring will be installed removeable hardwood that can be reused at other national conventions.

If you are flying in to the convention, The Bradley International Airport (BIA) is less than 19 miles north of the MassMutual Center. The Westover Metro Airport-CEF is just 10 miles away.


Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau
is a great resource for more information about available restaurants and dining in the downtown area of the “Pioneer Valley”

There will be lots of great dancing and, of course, great square dance calling at this year’s “national.” Hope to see you there with dancing shoes on! Enjoy.

Shaun Werkele

 

 

 

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 dancing and contributing to the ongoing promotion and the preservation of both modern western square dancing and traditional square dancing and to aid in the growth of the square dance activity.

Cincinnati National Square Dance Convention in 2017

Square Dancing at Cincinnati National Square Dance Convention

 

Here’s some information about the 66th National Square Dance Convention coming to Cincinnati in 2017 on Yahoo News .

The National Square Dance Convention will take place June 21st – June 24th, 2017 at the Duke Energy Convention Center in 2017 as a major event for the year in the state of Ohio. “Cincinnati – Your 2017 Destination Vacation”

The Duke Energy Convention Center will provide a great amount of area for square dancing with 750,000 total square feet and is backed by several great hotels that total more than 3,000 hotel rooms within walking distance of the center.

The City of Cincinnati has a very thorough bus system. You may contact the Metro System by calling (513) 621-4455. Of course there are taxi and other ground transportation options available.

2,500 parking spaces are located in close proximity of the center, whether you choose to use private flat parking lots, metered street spaces, or locally managed parking garages. The garages offer direct entry into the Duke Energy Convention Center via Cincinnati’s Skywalk System. Further, there are several parking lots or parking garages located around the Duke Energy Convention Center . For more details about the Duke Energy Convention Center parking systems contact these numbers:

Central Parking: (513)345-4461
Systems Parking: (513) 684-9341

The 66th National Square Dance Convention provides two ATMs in the convention center. They are both located on Level 1 near the main entrance (Fifth Street and Elm Street) and in the Fifth Street Concourse near Hall B.

If you are flying in to the convention, The Dayton International Airport (DAY) is 66 miles north of the Duke Energy Convention Center. The Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport – CVG is just 13 miles away.

The Greater Cincinnati USA Convention and Visitors Bureau is a great resource for more information about available restaurants and dining in the downtown area of the “Queen City”

There will be lots of dancing and, of course, square dance calling at the “national.” Hope to see you there! Enjoy the event.

Shaun Werkele

 

 

 

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 dancing and contributing to the ongoing promotion and the preservation of both modern western square dancing and traditional square dancing and to aid in the growth of the square dance activity.

Using Slingshots While Square Dance Calling

Dancing to modern Western square dance can be challenging and surprising due to the unexpected choreography of the caller. Like traditional square dancing , recovering from occasional mistakes is often part of the fun.

Singing calls, though, do not allow the dancers much time to recover from involved choreography. As a general rule, simple singing call figures are the best ones to use. And callers should always encourage dancers to dance only those programs at which they are reasonably proficient. You have to use your discretion when deciding how much the dance floor as a whole can handle as far as difficult square dance choreography is concerned. You should build the confidence of the dancers slowly.

This is a classic figure that still is one of my favorites:

CALLING TIP! Try to offer at least one new figure combination in every tip to improve dancer’s ability and keep the interest high!

Heads (Sides) Square Thru
Right & Left Thru
Veer Left
Couples Circulate
Chain Down The Line
Star Thru
Pass Thru
Trade By
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

By making some changes to this figure, you can try this instead for a more original combination. I call this the “slingshot,” because the dancers essentially go from one end of the square to the other and then back again:

Heads (Sides) Square Thru
Swing Thru
Boys Run
Couples Circulate
Couples Trade
Couples Circulate
Half Tag (the Line)
Scoot Back
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

 

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 to the Challenge (C-1) level of dance.

Contact Shaun Werkele today to make square dancing a major part your event planning process and see how easy and fun a square dance 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 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.