By: Jeff Garbutt, Bunbury, Western Australia

"Why don't we remove some of the lesser used, or redundant moves from our programs?" Have you ever heard this statement? This option has been mentioned in some of the discussions taking place about the "Ad Hoc Committee" proposals for re-structuring our programs.

I certainly remember thinking that way a few years ago. But as I consciously disciplined myself to start using what I thought were redundant moves - I discovered something amazing - my choreography started to become more exciting. It was like switching from "black and white" to "color" movies.

In my day time job I work as a "Hydrographer". We are involved with measuring the water resources of our region. Over the years have had to start dealing with environmental issues. We have been re-named to "Water Resources Officers" and get more involved with protecting our water resources. About two years ago my employer sent me on an "Environmental Management" course. Now I don't like Biology, but I did learn something about the importance of "Biodiversity". Put simply, biodiversity means that every species in an ecosystem has a role to play, and if you remove one species it could cause a problem somewhere in the system. For instance one species may be the only source of food used by a small fish, which is in turn the only source of food used by a fish which is important to the commercial viability of that region. Every species has it's part to play in the overall health of the plant and animal species in any ecosystem. Remove one, no matter how insignificant it may seem, and a new balance of species takes over, which is not necessarily a good balance. I still don't understand the vital interactions that go on - but I do now understand the necessary for biodiversity.

I believe that these "lesser used or redundant moves" may have a similar role to play in the overall health of our Square Dance Ecosystem. For instance:

As an example of where we have already lost some "color"; there used to be a move called "divide". It was used quite nicely in singing calls where, for instance, we had the heads doing something in the middle and then called "sides divide, star thru" to meet the heads for the next move. It all flowed very nicely and smoothly. But it was reasoned about twenty years ago, quite correctly in fact, that "divide" could be replaced by "separate". We all accepted this because "separate" was a generic move that could be used in many set-ups, while "divide" could only be used in one. But in the years since, how many times have you heard a singing call figure using "sides separate and star thru"? I imagine hardly ever.

Remember also that the variety of moves helps to provide "relief points" in our beginners classes. If we had nothing but the "most commonly used moves", then learning could become tiresome. For instance, we might only teach ocean wave or two faced line moves, with no relaxer moves like "dopaso". (I know that's a bad example - but it serves to make a point.) If we have no relaxer moves - then learning will be all hard work - and beginners lose interest.

I know that our programs need adjusting, but before we remove a move, have a good look at it, and apply tests similar to the following:

(I haven't heard "walk around" and "see saw" in many new singing call releases - but it would be sacrilege to lose these "colorful moves".)

The same also applies to adding new moves to a program. There are many well-documented cases of where biological ecosystems have been damaged by introduced species. The same could happen to our dance programs. For instance, have you noticed that many square dancers have had trouble doing "wheel and deal" from two faced lines since the introduction of "ferris wheel"? (It didn't happen straight away, but after twenty years of using "ferris wheel", we seem to have forgotten that we can also "wheel and deal" ). So before adding new moves to any program, we must also consider the consequences it may have on other moves, (no matter how unintentional).

I'm not opposed to trimming our programs to achieve a better "balance" of teaching load, but we need to do it responsibly.

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12-November-2006 20:49:31