National Capital Area Square Dance Leaders Association
Dance Leadership since 1951
Tom Sellner is the president of NCASDLA.
This message was originally published in the May, 2018 issue of Calls n' Cues.
April rain brings May flowers. I hope your May flowers have arrived. At the WASCA festival we enjoyed many hours of smooth dancing.
Smooth dancing helps us to dance longer and so enjoy the longer dance times of a festival. Flow helps to produce smooth dancing. Stop and go dancing or calling creates bad flow. The caller creates good flow by using good timing between calls and not using the same hand twice in a row. It all starts when you square up. Dancers start by holding hands with bent elbows and stand with weight on only one foot. When moving forward, dancers hold hands, which helps them keep better timing. In general, dancers should keep their hands between their waist and shoulders.
We start Grand Square with men using left foot and ladies using right foot. If we do this, dancers are more likely to turn on the fourth beat instead of the third beat, which prevents ending Grand Square 4 beats early and waiting for the next call.
Holding hands whenever possible is a good idea. Holding hands in lines and other formations helps dancers to find centers and ends (centers are holding both hands) and holding hands whenever possible during Grand Square helps new dancers to learn Grand Square a lot quicker and helps timing. Blind dancers use hand holds to tell where they are in the square. Callers can remind dancers to take hands by saying "lines" before the call.
Not using the same hand twice in a row will avoid bad body movement and confusion. For example, if square thru 4 and left allemande is called, you get terrible body flow and the possible use of the right hand for the left allemande, instead of the left.
If callers warm up their voice and remember to breathe before starting to call, this will produce better timing, help the caller sound better and more likely be understood. Watching the dancers move allows the caller to sight time and will help the dancers not to have to run and will allow them to dance smoother. It's really bad if you start calling the next sequence before everyone is squared up. Everybody walk into the middle and back helps get the dancers all moving together.
If dancers break down, I often call at the start of the next sequence "Circle Left" to help dancers regroup and start to move in time. If I am calling for dancers I have never called to before, I often call "Circle Left" to start the dance. I immediately see if the dancers can hear me, understand me and nobody breaks down! Remember, think before you call and you won't be trying to correct the mess you just made.
Go to a festival. There are many coming. You will find me there on the dance floor having fun!
May God hold your hand till I see you again!
President of NCASDLA