|Extended Applications (for Callers)
|| by Vic Ceder
CALLERLAB Convention, 2010, Niagara Falls, NY - Extended Applications
Calling Extended Applications - CALLERLAB has published a report of the
Mainstream and Plus applications which are called most often. These applications
are known as the "Standard Applications" and are contained in the Standard
Applications books. This session will explore some of the applications which
are NOT Standard and are, therefore, known as extended applications. The panel
will provide information and samples of some extended applications, including
tips on how to help the dancers succeed with this type choreography. If you are
looking for some challenging Mainstream and Plus choreography, this session is
for you. Come and enjoy.
Standard applications are those combinations of calls and formations that are most frequently
called, and which give a high dancer success rate. When a caller goes beyond this
basic 'norm', dancers tend to break down because they are given unfamiliar
positions from which to do the call. In the past, there's been several names for
these 'extended' applications such as DBD (Dancing By Definition) and APD (All
Many calls have several layers of difficulty, not just standard vs Extended, but Easy, Medium, Hard.
For example, consider Fan the Top. The standard application of Fan The Top starts from a
R-H Wave with Girls as Centers and Boys as Ends. This formation gives the highest dancer success rate.
An Easy (Extended) application would be from a L-H Wave with Boys as Centers and Girls as Ends;
A Medium application might be a mixed sex R-H Wave;
A Hard application would be mixed sex facing couples, or perhaps a Diamond.
How to gauge a floor
It's important to gauge the capability of the floor before calling harder material.
1st tip: Warm up the dancers. Call well-timed standard choreography at speed. See how the dancers react.
Keep their success rate high.
2nd tip: Experiment a bit with Extended Applications and see how the dancers react. E.g.,
"Heads Pass The Ocean, same 4 Swing Thru, all Ping Pong Circulate, Centers
Swing Thru, Ping Pong Circulate" is a good test at Plus to see how well
dancers might do with Half-sashayed choreography.
How to successfully call Extended Applications
Here are some methods to successfully get dancers
through more complicated choreography.
"Slide Thru" feels good
The standard version of many calls have Girls turning to the Left as
Boys turn to the Right. These calls include: Box The Gnat, California Twirl,
Dixie Grand, Explode The Wave, Fan The Top, Load The Boat, Partner Trade,
Pass The Ocean, Peel The Top, Ping Pong Circulate, Slide Thru, Spin The Top,
Square Thru, Star Thru, Track 2, Trade By, and Trade The Wave.
For these calls, the Girls are pre-programmed to always turn left, as the
Boys are pre-programmed to always turn right. As such, calls normally
done from a right-hand BGGB wave (such as Fan The Top or Explode The Wave)
can be easily extended to be done from a left-hand GBBG wave, since boys still
turn right, and girls still turn left.
The call ends "normal"
The standard starting formation for Recycle or Linear Cycle is a right-hand BGGB
wave. From this formation, these calls end in normal facing couples (Boy on
Left, Girl on Right). Reasonable success can be acheived from a left-hand
GBBG wave, since the ending formation is also normal facing couples.
Similarly, the standard starting formation for Linear Cycle is parallel R-H
Waves with Boys as Ends and Girls as Centers From here, Linear Cycle ends in
normal Facing Lines. If Linear Cycle is called from a R-H BGGBBGGB Tidal Wave,
even though each 4-dancer formation is standard, the dancers
tend to make Facing Lines instead of an Eight Chain Thru.
Isolating the call to the "center 4"
(restricting the scope from 8 to 4 dancers)
Calling an extended application to just the center 4 dancers (either to all
of one sex, or a half-sashayed arrangement) has a better success rate than
calling the same call to all 8 dancers working in two groups of 4.
First get the center 4 dancers successfully through a given call,
then move the other 4 dancers into the center, and successfully get them through the call.
Later the call can be called to all 8 dancers, working in each group of 4.
Dancer success is greatly improved if the dancers are actively focused upon
the group with whom they are working.
For example, consider these two sequences from a Squared Set:
In the first case, the dancers previously did a Touch 1/4 and are focused on
the 4 dancers in their box, the same dancers with whom they are to do the Scoot Back.
In the second case, dancers just did a Swing Thru, and are focused on the 4
dancers in their wave. To do a Scoot Back from here requires the dancers to
break their focus from their wave, locate their box, then do the call.
Even though in both cases the starting formation is identical (parallel
right-hand waves with boys facing in), the second example is much harder
because dancers are not properly focused.
- Easy: Heads Square Thru 4; Touch 1/4; Scoot Back.
- Harder: Heads Half Sashay and Square Thru 4; Swing Thru; Scoot Back.
Another contributing factor to the focus issue is the tendency at Mainstream
and Plus to have parallel waves that are waaaaaay too far apart. This is a
pet peeve of mine, as I frequently call Advanced and Challenge, where compact
formations are a necessity. When teaching beginners and or doing
Mainstream/Plus workshops, I often emphasize that dancers should keep their
parallel waves closer together. One call combination that helps accomplish such
dancer training is (from an 8 Chain Thru) Touch 1/4 + Centers Trade.
Setting up proper flow is essential to getting weaker dancers though
Extended Applications. Dancers' body flow (i.e., turning direction) should
move them toward and into the correct action for the next call.
For example, before a call such as Trade The Wave or Explode The Wave,
the previous call should have the centers turning with each other. Swing Thru +
Explode The Wave works much better than Scoot Back + Explode The Wave.
Another example: from BBGG out-facing lines. Do a Wheel & Deal (Girls now
in the middle). Which call has a better success rate, Girls Flutter Wheel, or
Girls Reverse Flutter Wheel?
Often, a few extra helper words, judiciously said either before or during
the call can dramatically increase dancer success rate. For example:
"Take a peek" Trade The Wave always gives a better success rate in a
mixed sex wave. Make sure the dancers actually take the peek
before you call Trade The Wave!
From a Completed Double Pass Thru formation with Leaders as normal couples
and Trailers as half-sashayed couples, tell
the trailers to "place a hand on the back of the dancer in front, follow them"
and do a Track 2.
After dancers have successfully executed the movement several times, helper
words should be relaxed or avoided, as dancers may rely too heavily on such a crutch.
The calls that immediately precede an Extended Application also affect how dancers react.
For example, Sides 1/2 Square Thru, Swing Thru, Trade The Wave is most likely
a disaster; whereas Sides Square Thru 4, Dosado to a Wave, Swing Thru, "take
a peek" Trade The Wave has a better chance of success.
Often, a mixture of Boys together, Girls together works better than the
half-sashayed arrangement. E.g., Load The Boat from BBGG facing lines is
better than GBGB facing lines. Having some dancers in their normal position
helps those who are not in their normal position. The
normalized dancers act as 'stabilizing anchors'.
It is usually desirable to workshop (or "build up" to) an extended
application, before calling it cold turkey to an unsuspecting floor.
Make sure all dancers fully understand and can successfully execute the call before
introducing a more extended application of the call. Use drills or repetition until
everyone is successful and can smoothly dance the call.
When I workshop a call, I try to ensure that dancers understand
the 'concept' (definition) of the call instead of simply memorizing a
traffic pattern. Depending upon dancer skill levels, I'll delve into mixing
up the call more and more as the workshop progresses. Be careful,
as workshopping is a finely honed skill. Watch dancers closely to ensure they're
enjoying the experience, or else everyone loses.
Caller-Dancer Trust Relationship
It is important that the dancers trust you.
Do not call complicated Extended Applications to a brand new group on the first tip.
Warm them up and get them accustomed to your voice, style, timing, and
humor. Gradually you can see what they can do, and expand upon that. If you
break them down before you've established a trusting relationship with them, they
will never trust you. They'll say things such as "You can't do that from here", or
they'll think you don't know how to call. In either case, you'll be branded
a "bad" caller.
Praise and encouragement from the microphone is important.
Let the dancers know that you see they are getting it and reward them with a
kind word. When they mess up, never poke fun nor point out the mistakes of
an individual. Keep it light-hearted and use their errors as teaching moments.
Keep it Fun, and Danceable
Never overdo extended applications. Keep the dancers happy, having fun, and let them succeed.
Learning something different should be a fun accomplishment. If the patter portion
of your tip had some difficult material, ease up for the singing call and let the
dancers enjoy themselves.
Be Aware of the Dancer's Reactions
As some dancers may be uncomfortable with Extended Applications, make sure
you are attentive to their reactions/emotions. It's easy to overdo a
workshop. Keep a close watch on dancers' facial expressions. Are they smiling? Are they
thinking too intently? Are they unhappy? Are they bored? Observe
how well they are dancing. Are they moving to the beat of the music? Are
they dancing choppily (stop and go)? Do they seem tired and sluggish? These
are all signs that you may be overdoing it. People come to dance, not to
stand around, so be certain you take appropriate breaks and don't spend the
entire time teaching.
When to use Extended Applications
I use Extended Applications at most every dance. Normally, I use the first tip
to warm up the dancers; the second tip to gauge the floor's ability level and
to sparingly try out a few things. By the second or third tip, I've usually identified
a few things to 'play' with.
If you've called for the club before, you should already have an idea of
their skill level, and should be able to appropriately gauge the use of Extended
Ways to Extend Calls
- Mixed Sex
- Left or Reverse
- Fractions (1/2, 1 & 1/2, Twice, etc.)
- Somebody only (e.g., Boys Zoom)
- Facing couples / ocean wave rule (e.g., Fan The Top from Facing Couples)
- Unusual formation (e.g., Fan The Top from a Diamond)
- Different formation (e.g., Chase Right from Trade By; Flutter Wheel from
8 Chain Thru; Diamond calls from Point-to-Point Diamonds)
- Those Who Can, Those Facing, If You Want To