Dancing and Styling Tips for New Dancers


1. Star Thru: Women, do not raise your hand up too high; bring it straight out from the side of your head. Also, offer some resistance with your arm - stiffen it a little. These things will enable you to do a much smoother and more precise star thru.

2. Turn Thru: After the turn half, make a good distinct pull by using a full step. There is a tendency to want to retain your hold with the person you have turned, as though this person were a security blanket; without a good firm pull by there is a good chance the square will break down on the next call, because it will be difficult for the dancers to see their position.

3. Right and Left Grand: New dancers tend to hold on too long to each person when pulling by. This is annoying to other dancers and makes for jerky execution of the call. A quick, snappy pull by is all that is needed.

4. Fan: Any call which starts with the word “fan” means the center of the wave or line are going to begin the call. This is an important clue to remember, because on a “fan” call you, as a center person,
never want to begin turning an outside person, it will mean an instant breakdown of the set with no chance to recover if you do.

5. Allemande Thar: Dancers should grip the wrists of the person ahead - this will hold the set together. Do not just put your hand into the center of the set and hold it upright - new dancers sometimes do this. Also the dancers on the inside should move very slowly so the outsides don’t have to run to keep up.


1. Anytime you are making an arm turn, always offer resistance with your turning arm - stiffen it slightly. This smoothes out the move and also enables one person to exercise control if the other person is unsure of how to do the call. Many squares break down without anyone knowing why merely because dancers have used limp arms and have therefore lost their positioning,

On the other hand, new men dancers are sometimes too rough in using arm turns with the ladies, but they never seem to be aware of this. Men, make an effort to analyze whether you are being too strong in arm turns or hand grips with the ladies.

2. Be bold in executing calls. If you are going to make a mistake, make a big one; this way someone will see your mistake, be able to explain what you did wrong, and you will probably not make that mistake again.

Many new dancers hold back on all calls, even ones they know, for fear of making a mistake. But this results in the square being slow in getting thru calls and possibly breaking down as a result. In addition, it hides mistakes dancers are making, and these mistakes could go on for months or years before being detected; then they have become a habit and are much harder to break.

3. There is a tendency for new dancers, especially the men, to lean forward excessively when doing calls. This looks bad and it will also tire a person out quickly. Try to stand erect or even lean back a little while dancing as it makes you look so much better.

4. Be a dancer, not a walker. Some people walk all the calls rather than dance them. This looks bad, throws a person’s timing off and quite likely throws off the timing of the entire set. The result is an uncomfortable dance feeling and the square is more likely to break down.

5. Shuffle your feet. Lifting your feet will tire you much more rapidly and will break up the dance rhythm. Remember that you are DANCING and not merely moving mechanically through various figures. Keep the rhythmic beat of the music with your feet while you glide along the floor.

6. Compromise if you miss part of a call. Don’t try to catch up by racing thru all the missed parts. The odds are you won’t make it and the set will break down. Instead forget the part you missed and try to pick up the action where everyone else is as this will keep the set dancing.

7. Keep your set tight, not spread out. New dancers tend to form large squares and then cannot understand why they always seem to be slow in executing calls; the reason is they are forcing themselves to cover much more ground in doing the calls by having a large set, and this takes more time. Experienced dancers keep their sets small and have ample time to do the calls.

Even if you start out with a tight set, it can expand as you do a variety of calls. Be aware that this will happen and always work to close in the set if it gets too large; you can do this while you are dancing.