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Education – Square Dancing

So, what is square dancing? Four couples start out in a square formation; each side of the square has one couple facing into the center. The dancers move about the square based on instructions from a caller. These instructions are from a set of pre-defined "calls" that direct the dancers into various formations and movement patterns. Eventually, everyone ends back at their starting (home) position.

Square dancing is not about footwork. (Walking is fine. Walking in time with the music is the ultimate.) Square dancing is about being able to quickly respond to each call, maintaining the flow intended by the caller. Sometimes that flow will be almost magical, so smooth you don't realize you've arrived back home. Sometimes the calls might be tricky, producing eight people staring at each other in confusion and laughter. Sometimes the challenge is speed – simple calls fired out in auctioneer staccato.

So square dancing is about concentration and teamwork. It creates lasting friendships, wherever you dance. (Check here for an account from the 2006 lesson program.)

Terminology (the basic stuff):

  • Square: A set of 8 dancers (4 couples) dancing as a team.
  • Tip: Two sessions, typically, each session is determined by the length of a song. Squares stay together for the entire tip. After a short break couples typically form new squares for the next tip..
  • Mainstream calls: A set of 69 calls that a caller might choose from when calling at the Mainstream level. This set is the same everywhere in the world. If you know the Mainstream calls, you can dance most anywhere. (A subset of Mainstream calls are referred to as "Basic" and are used for "party dances" where the caller assumes the dancers have no prior knowledge.)
  • Plus calls: An additional set of 39 calls. At the Plus level, the caller can choose from both Mainstream and Plus calls (108 options). At most dances, the caller will announce the level (Mainstream or Plus) before each tip. Some clubs, and nearly all of California, dance only at the Plus level. (Or above. Yes, there are additional levels, starting with A1).
  • Callerlab: The organization of square dance callers that maintains the list of accepted calls and definitions, teaches new callers, and licenses music for caller use.
  • Round dancing: Ball room dancing with movements directed by a "cuer." Again, the instructions come from a pre-defined list, that gets longer as the dance level increases. Round dancers move around the room in large circular path, but otherwise operate as individual couples. Round dancing has nothing to do with square dancing, except that many clubs alternate between the two as a change of pace.

Mainstream Lessons

Our 2017 Mainstream lesson program starts on Tuesday, January 10, 2017.

Students:

  • Refer to the calendar at the bottom of the home page to confirm the lesson locations. (A few are at the Frisco Community Center, due to conflicts.)
  • The links at the bottom of this page provide animated descriptions of calls. These are great resources for review.
  • The 2017 syllabus pdf file (TBD).

Plus Lessons & Workshops

The Plus Lessons/Workshops for 2015 will use the Nest program, and be run from mid-Sept. to mid-Oct. These will be at the Summit County Senior Center 7 to 9 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays (mostly). Contact Jim Langdon for information.

Mainstream Workshops

Mainstream Workshops for 2015 will use the Nest program, and be run from mid-Oct. to mid-Nov. These will be at the Summit County Senior Center 7 to 9 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays (mostly). Contact Jim Langdon for information.

Square Dance Learning Aids

Student Aids (pdf)

On-Line Student Aids