Sunday, December 23, 2007

What's in a name?

"Make Magic" — I've wondered why this C1 call is so named. Most sensibly, it should be a call that takes you to a Magic Column. But there's only one formation from which this happens: a 2 by 4 formation with a center box circulate and outside couples facing in. This, by the way, has a name of its own. It's called a Quarter Box. The idea is that any 2 by 4 formation with outside couples facing in takes its name from the center, e.g. Quarter Diamond. What should be Quarter Wave, however, is ordinarily called a Quarter Tag.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Question & a Plea

Relay The Deucey, Motivate, Chain Reaction—what do they all have in common? They often break squares down. And the reason why is also something they all have in common: they depend on stars or star-like formations and there are four different paths (the maximum) an individual dancer may have to dance through. 


Star formations, if failed, break a square down because there's no saving line, no other line of four, to rebuild on by imitation. And star formations often fail when dancers are imperfect team players (it takes four dancers to make a star: if one smarty-pants dancer has skittered on ahead, a tardy dancer may not see the formation and so fail to dance the call!).

Now to the question and the plea. When teaching or workshopping any of these calls, why don't callers put us dancers through all four paths. It's absolutely essential for dancers who dance by position and it's no waste of time for dancers who dance by definition. An entire cycle of Relay The Deucey and Motivate can be achieved by having the dancers Swing Thru in between the four iterations. The same can be accomplished for Chain Reaction by an Extend & Outsides Trade (i.e. Finish Ping-Pong Circulate).

I've had some very good teachers and workshop callers, but I'm baffled why none of them has done this. I don't think any of these calls can be considered to have been successfully workshopped unless the dancers have managed to get through an entire cycle (as above) ... from left-hand waves!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Armchair Square Dancing

I've just come across a terrific resource: Vic Cedar's Choreography Database. With a few clicks you can read sequences involving your "favorite" calls, at varying levels of difficulty. Not for everybody—but those for whom this is appropriate ... you know who you are!

Left, Reverse, Mirror, Arky

I learned C1 a year ago. According to Callerlab's Basic Challenge (C-1) Definitions (10/12/06), the definition of the "Left" modifier begins "Do the call interchanging right with left, clockwise with counter-clockwise, and promenade with reverse promenade." I'd heard of "Reverse" and "Mirror" and even "Arky"—none of them as yet official modifiers. I'd supposed that "Reverse" applied to "Beau" and "Belle" and "Arky" to "Men" and "Ladies" (to follow Callerlab's antique terminology), while "Mirror" perhaps combined "Left" and "Reverse".


In double checking for this posting, however, I notice Callerlab's Advanced Definitions (10/31/06) for the "Left" modifier states 

Do the call interchanging right with left and if also applicable belle with beau. (Left should only be used to modify calls where a right hand turn or shoulder pass is clearly part of the definition. The term Reverse is commonly used when the major interchange is Beau with Belle such as Reverse Swap Around.)

—no mention of "counterclockwise" or "promenade". What a difference a couple of weeks makes! I wonder what others dancers think of this and where "Mirror" fits in.

The Tandem Concept in Plus

I think the Tandem Concept should be introduced in Plus. Little need be done with it, but how it simplifies the definition of Track II: Tandem (Trade and Touch)! Compare that with the convoluted definition in Callerlab, which even so doesn't dispense with "dancers work[ing] 'in tandem'."

Searching Callerlab

Oh Brave New World (no, not a call)! Searching with Adobe Reader through Callerlab's Basic and Mainstream Definitions (the 10/19/06 iteration) I find, what I've long suspected, that Pull By is nowhere defined! The closest one gets is in the "Dancing Hand Positions" (associate right!) — "Pull By: The action brings two people toward each other. Hands should be droped before bodies cross a common plane." Whatever the "action" might be is nowhere specified. I wonder how many on the committee have been using the search function.

Should Box The Gnat be a gender call?

Recently I was at a dance where the caller called (or seemed to call) Box The Gnat for facing dancers of the same gender. He maintained (or I thought he maintained—such is the Fog of Floor) that at our level (A or above) gender didn't matter. I should mention that he has subsequently denied all of this. But it got me thinking what a genderless definition of Box The Gnat might be. I propose, Slide Thru And Roll. The whole arm thing then just becomes a co-gender flourish.

P.S. Oh yes, I see that my definition isn't genderless, but it does allow the call to be made for two facing dancers of whatever gender.