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'.
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
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
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.