Definitions of Square Dance Calls and Concepts
Dancing and Studying Hints
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Excerpts from the Preamble of the Ceder Chest Definition Books Ceder Chest of C1 and C2. The material is copyrighted, so please treat it accordingly.

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Dancing Hints

  • Being a good dancer has nothing to do with level. It has more to do with being a good team member. Dance your part and allow the others to dance their part. A truly good dancer will wait until the last moment for another 'team member' in his or her square to act, before offering help if necessary. Please don't be the obnoxious dancer who must help every other dancer in the square whether or not they need it.
  • Watch the dancers in your own square! 'Shadow dancing' off of counterparts in an adjacent square is not dancing, and should be discouraged. No matter who your counterpart may be, that dancer is human and is quite capable of making mistakes. Always attempt to dance your own part on your own brainpower. Only check your counterpart if it was a particularly difficult call or you otherwise got lost. If you find you are checking your counterpart more than you are dancing precisely on your own, then you are probably dancing above your level.
  • Keep formations compact, and stay precisely where you belong until the caller instructs you to move. Don't rush or dance ahead of the music. There are no points for 'getting there first.' It is essential that everyone see the formations and spots involved. If you move quickly because you know where you're going, someone else may not have seen where you came from, what the initial formation was, or where they need to go.
  • Touch hands whenever possible, especially in distorted formations. Touching hands helps to keep formations compact and allows everyone to see the identified formation and who is working with whom. At times when it is not possible to touch hands, identify distorted formations by pointing to the dancers or positions within your formation. When identifying formations such as Distorted Waves, stay in your spot (without turning your body) and reach forward or backward as necessary to try to form a 'bumpy' Wave.
  • Identify yourself as necessary by raising your hand. Even when you know that you are a Head or Side, Beau or Belle, etc., the other dancers in the square may also need this information. You may also need to identify yourself as a Girl or Boy if there are mixed sex partners in the square or if you inadvertently got switched with a member of the opposite sex.
  • No yelling or arguing. It accomplishes nothing except to generate hurt feelings. Also, other dancers may not be able to hear the caller's cuing or the next call. Keep unnecessary comments and noises to a minimum, since any noise within the square can distract dancers, some of whom might have hearing impairments. When there is a live caller available, ask for his or her 'expert' opinion to settle any disputes. The caller is the final authority at the dance, even if you think he or she is wrong. Thou shalt obey thy caller. If you think the caller is wrong, it is usually better to talk to the caller in private after the tip, instead of yelling at him or her from the dance floor.
  • Dance smoothly and to the beat of the music. No yanking, pulling, pushing, shoving, kicking, or otherwise jerky or distracting movements. Square Dancing is not a wrestling match. Be considerate of other people's needs. There have been a number of dancers who have dropped out of the square dancing activity because of injuries inflicted upon them by rough dancers yanking on brittle wrists, shoulders, etc.
  • If you do not know how to do the given call, resist the temptation to wander aimlessly. By not moving, the other dancers will get the clue that you don't know what to do, and will try to help you. If you start wandering off, they might not help you since you will seem to know where you are going. Also, it is easier for the helpers if they know where you were at the beginning of the call. On the other hand, moving slowly in flow direction is often the correct way to get near to where you need to be to interact with the next dancer.
  • Resist the temptation to cheat or short cut. It is discourteous and annoying to the other dancers and the caller. You should be aware, however, that some dancers will cheat on certain calls. Cheats, unless executed 'cleanly' (i.e., not affecting the traffic pattern or the interaction with any dancers), may confuse dancers and thus cause the square to break down. Note also that many callers, myself included, do not appreciate hot-shot dancers short-cutting calls, since it disrupts the flow and timing of the sequence. I will sometimes try to 'catch' the cheating dancers (smear 'egg' in their face, as it were) by modifying the call in a way such that their cheating causes their square to break down. Please be considerate to the caller and other dancers and don't cheat!
  • If you need to help other dancers in your square, do it in a gentle manner. Don't forcefully push or pull them. Often you can simply repeat the name of the call, verbally recite a portion of the definition, or point to where the other dancer(s) should go. Try to wait until the last possible moment just in case the other dancers didn't really need help at all. Perhaps they just needed a little extra 'think-time'.

Studying Hints

  • Dance on a regular basis (at least once a week)! Either find a group with a live caller or find a group that is willing to work through taped material. Even if you don't have a full square of people, it is important to dance regularly.
  • Get a set of Square Dance Checkers. Pushing checkers helps many dancers understand the nuances of calls and concepts.
  • Get a couple of different definition books, since you may find that the material in one book is easier for you to understand (or may simply give you a different perspective) than in another book. We recommend that you get a copy of the CALLERLAB definitions or the Big Five by Bill Davis & John Sybalsky. The Big Five is basically a verbatim copy of the CALLERLAB definitions with diagrams and additional helpful information. Some definition books, such as Galburt's Glossary, contain short concise definitions that are easy to memorize; other definition books may contain many helpful diagrams with arrows showing each dancer's movement throughout the call.
  • Make flash cards or verbally record the call definitions upon an audio cassette, using your own words to help you learn.
  • Listen to teach tapes or dance tapes and try to visualize your position within a square, or simply try to recite the definition of each call as it is called.
  • After (or during) each tape group meeting or live dance, make a list of the calls that you had problems with and review that list during the week, looking up definitions as necessary. Be sure to ask your caller or tape group leader any questions that you might have.

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23-April-2014 13:38:49
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