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.

Advertisements

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.

 

 

5 Methods You Probably Are Not Using With Your Choreographic Checkers

Original Approaches For Square Dance Choreography Checkers

Square Dance Caller Choreography CheckersAll square dance callers, whether traditional or modern, use choreography to entertain and involve all of the dancers on the dance floor. If you think about a great dance show like Dancing With The Stars, why is it so great to watch? What makes it entertaining? Well practiced and interesting dance choreography! This applies just as well to square dance.

When creating new and different square dance choreography, the canonical approach, or to be precise, conforming to already established patterns or rules needs to be “turned off.” To be more fresh and creative with your square dance caller checkers you will have to leave old set rules of authority behind and ignore the typical standard that has been followed in all square dance calling which has always conformed to an accepted rule or procedure.

Consider using some of the following original methods to reach a higher place for yourself in choreography creation:

Reverse The Path

Find the end result you want and retrace your moves until you have reverse written the start of the sequence. For instance, if you want a precise get out, then start at the end result you want the square to end on, like a Right and Left Grand, and work all of the checkers backward with calls that take you back to where you want the sequence to begin.

Make the Module March

Use your checkers to write modules. Consider the power that you can create by analyzing every possible board position that can be placed into a giant choreographic tree and when connected together, each possible move acting as a string to another board position in the square. Those positions lead to a union of original and highly creative call ideas. Conversion modules. Zero module writing. Equivalent modules. Checkers can make this happen in a huge way!

Great Get Outs

Most great square dance get outs start out using square dance checkers. Look to old ideas for inspiration if you must, but use the checkers to create better and more interesting get outs that are original in substance and choreography that helps to instill interest and excitement for the dance floor. Keep in mind that get outs do not have to be hard and complicated, and just because you use the checkers to conceive a new idea does not mean that your choreography needs to be involved and difficult. Strive for fun ideas and visualize the dancers when you put together choreographic ideas

Turn The Card

Create a list of cards with one call on each card. Then shuffle the cards, draw three from the deck and write a choreographic sequence from that. This approach just requires that you create combinations of calls that connect the three calls together in a seamless yet interesting way. Zero modules work best for this method of creating choreography, yet I recommend that you write transitional and equivalent modules as well. This is a powerful method to break old overused choreography combinations and put new creative ideas forward.

Proper Flow

Follow the rules of smooth flow when you write figures with your checkers. Essential elements such as hand usage in the combinations of calls that you will deliver need to be relatively seamless and overall body flow should be smooth and gliding. Always keep this in mind because proper styling is highly important and it will enhance the quality of your dance from a choreographic standpoint and the enjoyable level for the square dancers.

Create Effective Ideas…

There are a few different ways to resolve a sequence with checkers. Just determine which ideas are the strongest and best for what you are trying to accomplish.

It is important also to remember that checkers are simply choreographic constructs, but if you create a sequence that is in the right direction with interesting ideas and great body flow, then everyone at the dance will cast a glimmering glance that you may be powerfully brilliant!

Have a Great Day! Contact me if 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.

Best Guide For Creating a Unique Square Dance Choreography Sequence

National Square Dance Caller Education1Creative choreography in square dancing is something that I learned and became fascinated with when I was young and I was first learning to call. I remember starting out in Denver Colorado square dance calling with my old caller coach and mentor, Dave Kenney, who would always ask me the same set of questions when I would present him with a new choreographic idea.

Now that I look back on those moments of learning, I see that our interaction often was centered around analyzing square dance figures that in the end, really, was a solid foundation and set of rules for creating interesting square dance choreography.

One of Dave’s most common questions would be, “Oh, does that follow the rule for the call?” or “What is the body flow for that combination?” meaning, is that acceptable and legal insofar as the dancer is concerned?  This really got me to thinking about the relationships between calls and how to combine them in an interesting manner. And this allowed for me to become a better square dance caller.

Body flow and understanding the definition of the call is a great start to creating choreography. Beyond that, what exactly is involved in creating a unique modern western square dance choreography sequence? There is an artistry to creative choreography and the basis of that creativity is first realizing that you are in the process of developing ideas that you combine with your knowledge of the rules of square dance choreography and how to apply that to your particular dancing situation.

Creating is a skill that you develop with hard work and practice and applying your knowledge to the start of an idea, even if it that idea is based upon a very basic square dance call. Talent or luck has nothing to do with this. Putting forth great effort into and getting creative on a level that boosts your choreographic possibilities from both a calling and a dancing standpoint is where you want to be when you are working a new idea. Get inspired first, then take that energy and just run with it. Often you are shooting for a different angle on some old choreography. More often than not, this is the way you should be working and there are tons of simple ideas that you can use and indeed, you can take this further than any other square dance caller has done so in the past, if you wish.

Set of Rules for Writing Choreography for Square Dances:

  1. Follow the rules and definitions of the lists of calls as established years ago – Mainstream, PLUS, Advanced, Challenge
  2. Keep your combinations simple
  3. Make sure that your dance sequences have good body flow for both sexes
  4. Build upon previously called ideas to create interest on the dance floor

Here are some great outlines to follow when you are devising creative choreography:

  • Always create choreography when you are inspired.
  • Do not try to “resolve the square dance checkers” while you are creating.
  • Springboard off of other choreographic ideas, both traditionally based ones from the past, and today’s modern western square dance
  • Put away an idea that is not working for you at the moment and return to it later
  • Take a called sequence that you like the choreography to and try reversing the sequence. Look for a different angle on the possibilities that might arise.
  • Follow the definition (rule) for the call to the letter for execution. Then break the rules and create a variation that is totally different from what it was originally!
  • Write your ideas first, analyze later. Otherwise you will stifle any creative combinations that might emerge.
  • Test your ideas on dancers at classes first, dances second. Still, remember that classes are for the dancers to learn first, and for you as a caller to learn is always second place.
  • Observe other square dance callers and pay attention to what they use for choreography.
  • Meet with other callers and run ideas by them and get feedback.

 

When you feel inspiration to create choreography, try to sit down and focus that energy on putting together something inspired and the end result will be worthwhile. That creative variable in your square dance program, utilizing a call or idea, can be the one element that makes it possible for dancers to enjoy and maybe even comment on how enjoyable your choreography was for them at the dance.

I wish you the best in your calling endeavors!

Shaun Werkele

303-250-4735

 

 

 

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