Hints For New Dancers

Hints For New Dancers
Ed Foote
News ‘n Notes, April 1981

1. 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.

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 dancer hold back on all calls, even ones they know, for fear of making a mistake. This results in the square being slow in getting through the calls and possibly breaking down as a result. In addition it hides mistakes people 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.

Compromise if you miss part of a call. Don’t try and catch up by racing through 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 – this will keep the set dancing.

Stand erect. 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.

Keep your set tight, not spread out. New dancers tend to form large squares and then can not 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.

Square up quickly. New dancers tend to hold back getting in squares, perhaps waiting to be asked. Other dancers may think you want to sit out and that this is why you do not get up – therefore they will not ask you to dance. If you want to dance, be on the floor within 15 seconds after the music goes on. If you stall around, the sets will be filled and you could be left out.

This is especially important when visiting other clubs. While clubs enjoy having visitors, they will not pamper their guests. If you want to dance, get on the floor right away.

Dance to other callers. By dancing to different styles of calling, you will improve your knowledge and understanding of square dancing and your ability to do various calls.

Take hands with adjacent dancers immediately after every call. This will help you see the formation you are in so you can do the next call. Failure to join hands immediately after every call is one of the primary reasons squares break down.

Believe the caller no matter what he/she says. Often dancers will stop cold if a caller tells them to do something and they do not know why he told them to do it. This results in the needless breakdown of the square. Forget worrying about “why” and just do as the caller says.