Wednesday, July 16, 2008

As Easy as ABC!

I was over at Kent, Brian, and Michael's last night. Kent and I were discussing the DC Diamond Circulate web site, then veered off into other square dance topics. He asked me if I had heard of ABC Square Dancing. I had heard about it, but hadn't really looked into it.

One of the challenges of square dancing is that if people are going to learn it, they have to make a big time commitment to it to take classes and learn the calls. Most people want to dance, rather than learn how to dance.

In the Olden Days before Modern Western Square Dancing, that's exactly what people did. The caller would teach the figure at the beginning of the dance, the new dancers would be designated the third or fourth couples in the square, and by the time the dance came to them, they knew how to do the figure. In ancient days, when people went to a square dance, they danced.

The ABC square dancing restores some of this immediate danceability back to square dancing. Couples, within a tip or two, learn basic calls that move them around the floor. By the end of an evening they know fifteen or so calls. The whole ABC program teaches 22 calls/formations/designations. Within three sessions, dancers will have learned all 22, and can become quite proficient in the ABC dance program.

If some of the dancers want to go on the Mainstream or beyond, they can then take square dance classes. The beauty and simplicity of the ABC program is this: you encourage people to dance first. Let them dance the first time they are out on the floor, and if they want to learn only those calls that's fine! They're square dancing, and that's what they want to do! You encourage dancers to dance immediately. You don't worry whether they will continue with square dancing; instead, you focus on giving dancers a great dance experience.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

When A Dancer's NOT Supposed To Be There

Several weeks ago I was in waves (trailing center) and heard the call "Motivate, Leading Ends Don't Move." After circulating and casting 3/4, I arrived in the center waiting for my star to form. It was only later (that evening, after the dance) that I realized it never would. My partners in the star were my original partner and her symmetric opposite whom I (and my symmop) had left behind at the call's start. I can't imagine being quick-witted enough to have caught that on the fly, on the floor. I guess this all comes under the rubric of "When the Formation isn't There." There are some calls that end with dancers in the spot where they began. Motivate is one of those, for the leading end ... and for the trailing center as well. The leading end does nothing but wander around, join in the star, and drift back to home. That's how the call above was able to work. The trailing center however has to Cast 3/4 both before and after the star. No one, even at C1 (where this all happened), would expect dancers to do that solo. I wonder how many other "fixed-point" calls there are that could work with stationary dancers. I doubt there are many, but I'm sure if I keep dancing/moving, they'll come across me (sigh).

Touch A Quarter Century

Wasn't able to dance much at this convention but almost every tip was instructive:

1. All 4 Couples, Partner Tag — what an interesting (?) idea, applying "All 4 Couples" (meant for facing couple calls) to a single couple call. Or, what is the difference between All 4 Couples, Partner Tag vs the simpler Partner Tag? The answer lies in one of the subtler passages from Callerlab's Advanced Definitions (p. 21):
At the end of the call, you must adjust to the nearest static square footprints of the wall you are facing. For example, if you end facing the head walls, adjust (without turning) to the nearest head position. If you end on that spot, you don't adjust.
i.e., with "All 4 Couples, Partner Tag," after partner tagging, you advance to the original footprints of your partner's corner, facing in the opposite direction. I won't mention who in my square went wandering right-shoulders past his corner etc.

2. In Your Blocks, Split Square Chain Thru — I'm a sufficiently inexperienced C1 dancer that at first this call struck me as a paradox. How could you move (split) outside of your block!? Well of course you don't. "Split" means do the first part of the call and then quarter in to the inactive dancers and do the rest. If your block is t-boned (couple facing facing singles), the couple are the inactive dancers and all works well. (Note: if the couples in the blocks are near the center, it could get really messy!)

3. From Waves, Ends O-Circulate, Centers Butterfly Circulate — I'll let you figure this out yourself. Hint: you know how the next call begins!