This document was produced by a CALLERLAB Ad Hoc committee to provide guidance to callers who would like to call for children in a school environment. It was assembled by callers with considerable experience in that area.
This promotional video was produced in 2019. It shows an attractive collage of slides depicting dancers having fun over a soundtrack of Dan Nordbye doing a singing call.
Barry Wonson edits an Australian caller newsletter called Behind The Mike. It consistently presents a wealth of useful information for callers and dance leaders. You can subscribe to have editions emailed to you, or you can view past editions on their website at https://www.behindthemikewebsite.com
The purpose of this summary article is to provide a searchable index of the table of contents entries for past Behind The Mike issues. This will make it easier to zero in on editions that have material of particular interest to you.
Dean Dederson posted a question in the Sustainable Square Dance group in Facebook. The answers provided by Barry Johnson and Joni Micals constitute an excellent Winning Ways story on using the SSD experimental lesson program.
Newer callers or people wondering what might be involved in learning to call are interested in what kind of educational material might be available. This article summarizes available caller training materials.
In order to design choreography callers must have an intimate knowledge of the characteristics of each call they use. The purpose of a Call Analysis Sheet is to provide a format for analyzing each call and documenting that information. Three examples are provided.
This summary article aggregates a great deal of material on the use of modules in square dance choreography. Modules provide a powerful mechanism for creating and presenting square dance choreography and they are a tool that all callers need to be familiar with. This article provides a brief overview of what modules are, an introduction to the terminology involved, and pointers to many other sources of information.
For the past several years CALLERLAB has included a convention session called “A Visit With the Legends”. In each session several well known and pioneer people were interviewed and told “war stories” about their careers and events in their lives. These sessions have proven to be extremely popular with the convention audience. The sessions were recorded, some with audio only, some with video, and some both. While the recordings are all contained in the pages that list CALLERLAB education session recordings, we have created this summary article listing the “legend” recordings so you can find them faster.
This summary article points to some places where recordings of interviews with callers have been collected.
Square dancing is enjoying a surge of interest from both dancers and callers in the greater Chicago area. Clubs in Glenview, Wilmette, Evanston and Arlington Heights, as well as Chicago’s North Side, will be offering classes for beginners and intermediate dancers starting in September. But without callers to lead classes, this uniquely American dance form would be in danger of extinction. Luckily, Chicago has become one of the leading areas in the country when it comes to the number of square dance callers-in-training.
This summary article contains a table that points to a number sources for images and posters related to square dancing. They can be quite useful for marketing or creating flyers.
This chart is provided by Scott Bennett who markets Yak Stack speakers. It shows the proper way to hook up speakers to an amplifier to ensure loading is proper. For Hilton equipment the load should be 4 ohms or greater.
Yak Stak is a venerable name in square dance speaker equipment. It was recently acquired by Scott Bennett who has put out a modernized version with an even better sound.
This Minnesota website is an example that promotes MWSD and serves as an entry point for people who are interested in learning to dance.
This 4 minute promotional video features an interview with caller Dan Sahlstrom of Minnesota describing what MWSD is, what it’s like, who can do it, and how to learn more.
The linked PDF contains 2 articles from the March 2019 edition of the GCA Callsheet. The first, by Barry Clasper, describes the benefits of being a participant in CALLERLAB, and in particular the value of attending convention. The second, by Allan Hurst, gives some tips on doing effective presentations at a CALLERLAB convention.
This document summarizes the results of a survey taken by the IAGSDC of their member clubs to understand what efforts were being made towards recruitment and retention of dancers and which strategies were meeting with the most success.
There are some differences in culture and customs between straight and gay square dance groups. Callers who have never called for a gay group before often have questions about what those differences are, and what they should expect.
This write-up by Clark Baker describes a sight resolution method presented at a 2007 caller school by Dave Wilson. Dave is a big fan of this method because it seems to be easier to learn, uses fewer calls, and is more forgiving when you make mistakes.
Ever wonder what a “technical zero” is exactly? Or what use they actually are? Are you afraid of using them because the results seem unpredictable? In this paper Barry Johnson takes you through what they are, how they work, and how you can use them to benefit your choreography.
The WIC Music List contains music that experienced female callers have found works well for them.
This discussion forum moderated by Cal Campbell has a wealth of material about square dance modular choreography. The purpose of the group is education in the use of square dance modules and the sharing of modules.
The West Coast Square Dancing site provides a great example of effective marketing of square dancing. It serves as a vehicle to promote several clubs in western British Columbia. In addition, they have designed a modified teaching plan called the Flexible Learning Program that allows more student intakes per year and also accommodates people who have to miss lessons due to travel or work.
Daryl Clendenin is a veteran caller who has taught scores of beginner classes. Follow the link to see his detailed 20-lesson plan to teach his MS group for 2018-19. The 92-page document contains his teaching plan and sample choreography for each lesson.
Cal Campbell and Daryl Clendenin discuss how to use the Sicilian Circle formation for teaching – and even as a “square dance” formation – in Modern Western Square Dancing.
When Bruce Holmes was learning to call, he had no luck finding a textbook to help him through the process. Now that he is a caller, he has written the book he wished he had when he was first learning.
Cal Campbell has put up over 200 teaching videos for Community Dance and party night dances. Sometimes the written description of a dance isn’t enough to figure out how it works if you’ve never seen it done. This resource let’s you see how the dances work and how to teach them.
This 79-page caller text was written in 1966 by Jim Mayo, a square dance calling icon and a founding father of CALLERLAB. Despite its original publication date, this is not a historical document. Most of the information and guidance provided is still applicable today.
This 14-page white paper by Kip Garvey explores how understanding the patterns of relationships that occur in normally arranged couples can enhance a caller’s control while sight calling and resolving.
Bruce Holmes, who is the caller for North Shore Squares in Evanston, ILL, has created sets of flash cards for calls on the MS list that are not included in the SSD list. There is a separate set that contains calls from the SSD list. The link points to a PDF file that prints 6 calls on each 8-1/2×11 page. The print is double sided so that when you print the pages the call name is on one side and a dancer-friendly description of the call is on the back. These sets of cards can be distributed to dancers as a teaching aid.
The Mount Baker Council in the Seattle area had good success running a “No Experience Necessary” dance in partnership with a local YMCA.
Bruce Holmes is the caller for a new club in Evanston, ILL called North Shore Squares, which at the time of this writing has been in operation for about 18 months. This story is an inspiring personal narrative that charts his journey through the process of using the Social Square Dance (SSD – formerly named Sustainable Square Dance) system as a tool to dig their club out of an all-too-common hole.
Bruce Holmes, who is the caller for North Shore Squares in Evanston, ILL, has created sets of flash cards for calls on the Plus list. One set contains calls from the SSD list. The link points to a PDF file that prints 6 calls on each 8-1/2×11 page. The print is double sided so that when you print the pages the call name is on one side and a dancer-friendly description of the call is on the back. These sets of cards can be distributed to dancers as a teaching aid.
Each card has the name of the call on one side and a dancer-friendly description of the call on the other. These sets of cards can be distributed to dancers as a teaching aid.
This 9-page document discusses the factors that should be considered when designing a custom teaching order, regardless of program.
Tech Squares is a club that operates at MIT. An interesting fact about this club is that their lesson-set is actually offered by MIT as a Physical Education credit. Part of the documentation they provide is a set of call definitions from Basic to Plus. They are abbreviated definitions that are intended to help dancers remind themselves about how the call works.
North Shore Squares is a new club that dances in Evanston, ILL. Despite only being active for 18 months or so they already boast 55 members. They elected to use the Sustainable Square Dance lesson system (previously known as Club 50) to facilitate rapid intakes of new dancers combined with retention after graduation from lessons. As a teaching aid they prepared booklets containing a concise and easily read definition for each call, many including color diagrams to illustrate the action. The first booklet contains calls on the SSD list. The second contains the MS calls not on the SSD list and the Plus calls.
North Shore Squares dances in Evanston, ILL and has been using the Sustainable Square Dance (also known as SSD and Club 50) teaching list as their intake level. To help their dancers they have created a series of teaching videos that demonstrate the calls in the SSD 50-call lesson plan. Follow the link to see the list of call videos, both in alphabetical order and by lesson.
The Alberta Chatter newsletter is published every six to eight weeks. It contains articles on promotion, member retention, and general interest articles, as well as a regular column by a visually impaired dancer, Dee Jackins, entitled “The Lighter Side of Darkness”.
This Winning Ways story from a newer caller explains how she is using the SSD program to teach new dancers.
Blue Bonnet Squares in Houston bought an advertising display in a local mall to advertise their classes.
This article describes the steps the Johnny Appleseed Square Dance Club went through to build a successful class.
This article describes some dos and don’ts when talking to new people about square dancing. How to best make it appealing and engage their interest.
At the Northern New Jersey Square Dance Association annual convention in 2018, Betsy and Roy Gotta delivered individual keynote addresses. Together, these presentations provide a wealth of insights and suggestions on how to market, recruit, and retain new dancers.
In 2008 Barry Johnson wrote a suite of documents that take you through the ins and outs of digital music: how to connect equipment, where to get it, how to edit it, and how to manage it. The articles are listed below (click on title to view PDF)
The Social Square Dance system is designed to create a 50 call entry program that can be taught quickly, roughly 12 weeks, and yet serve as a realistic destination program for long-term square dancers. While the idea of a shortened entry list is certainly not unique to this system, its design differs in providing a mechanism for keeping dancers in the entry program for at least 2 years, and in many cases, forever. The SSD Teaching Guide provides a lesson plan, teaching tips, and sample choreography to assist callers in using the system.
This book traces the history of the American Square Dance from its earliest roots to modern day. It was compiled by reviewing the documents and artifacts donated by the Square Dance Foundation of New England to the collection at the University of New Hampshire. The author was the major curator of materials collected over a span of more than thirty years.
GoldWave is a music recording and editing program on Windows. It permits recording from a variety of sources and producing a variety of sound file formats. It has features for pitch and tempo shifting, noise elimination (such as clicks and pops), cropping or extending recordings, adjusting bass/treble balances, and much more.
Audacity is a free multi-track audio editing program that runs on several platforms including Windows, Linux, and MAC OS. It permits recording from a variety of sources and producing a variety of sound file formats. It has features for pitch and tempo shifting, noise elimination (such as clicks and pops) elimination, cropping or extending recordings, adjusting bass/treble balances, and much more.
The Square Rotation Program (SQROT) is used at a dance to assign dancers to squares. The objective is to ensure a thorough mixing of dancers such that each dancer dances with as many different people as possible.
CSDS (Ceder Square Dance System) is a comprehensive program that incorporates under one roof all the facilities needed by square dance callers.
Sd is a computer program that lets callers enter choreography and displays the results of each call which greatly speeds up the process of writing and dramatically reduces errors. The program is available free of charge from the website. It has both Windows and Linux versions.
SqView is a music management program for callers, cuers and line dance leaders. It is specifically designed for the music management and performance needs of those groups. The program also displays lyrics, programlists, definitions and choreography. It is available from the website free of charge in both Windows and Android versions.
Callarama is a “checker mover” program to help callers work out choreography by showing animated figures moving in response to calls entered by the caller. Callarama has defined the standard for animated Square Dance Choreography since its introduction in 2004. The New Callarama 2 has been totally redesigned on the basis of Microsoft .Net Framework, supported by all Windows operating systems since XP.
This story recounts the results of three years of experience with the 12-week Condensed Teaching Method (CTM) – sometimes also referred to as the Condensed Teaching Order (CTO).
This is the second year that our Strathmore club, just east of Calgary, used ‘The Nest’ program for new dancers. What this method has meant for us in Strathmore is that our club is not only surviving, but thriving.
Jerry Junck reports on an observation from a club on Vancouver Island. Their format involved having a round between tips and they noticed that new dancers had difficulty getting into squares with the experienced club members. This seemed to be because the experienced dancers were doing the rounds and simply squared up right away since they were already on the floor. The club decided to make a change and do the round immediately after the square dance tip, then take the break. Now they have found that the new dancers were able to join squares with experienced dancers much more easily.
This account from Jerry Junck describes a seemingly trivial change in the way dancers are seated during breaks which he believes has improved the social atmosphere of the group and lead to an increase in the number of dancers attending his dance.
Thanks to Kurt Gollhardt for producing this single page that alphabetically lists the calls used in the new CALLERLAB Social Square Dance program. The sheet highlights the calls from the Mainstream list that are used in SSD 50 and also lists separately the Mainstream calls that are NOT used.
Jeff Priest has produced an outstanding set of books to assist callers teaching in the Basic through Plus programs. These books contain singing call figures which each feature only one call from the program being taught. This enables callers to teach the programs in whatever order they wish, and still use singing call figures that feature the call currently being taught.
This 6 minute promotional video shows some of the top modern callers, a variety of dance floors, ages, and dress. and shows how square dancing has evolved from its earliest roots to the modern form.
El Camino Reelers in the San Francisco area was suffering a steady year-by-year decline in dancers and decided to reinvigorate their membership with a new approach to recruiting and teaching dancers. This detailed 16-page document describes how they implemented this plan: how they advertised, how they recruited, how they restructured their teaching and club groups, and how they integrated new dancers into the club. It contains a wealth of insightful thinking and planning.
The CD Journal (formally titled CDP Journal) is published several times a year by the Committee for Community and Traditional Dance (CCTD). The Community Dance Program Journal is aimed at providing material to support dance events for non-dancers: party nights, intro nights, demos, etc. The material uses a limited number of calls (about 24) and allows the engagement of people with no prior square dance experience. Each Journal edition documents a number of such dances and the CD Journal has been published since 1992.
This document provides a step by step description of the installation and use of the SqView music management program. SqView may be downloaded for free at http://www.sqview.se
These handouts (Digital Music 101 and 102) were created for a presentation at the 2018 CALLERLAB Convention in Albuquerque. Digital Music 101 deals with the Windows considerations for downloading your music, placing it in your PC’s file structure, and managing the physical files. Digital Music 102 deals with editing your music files using Audacity, a free music editing program.
Three short promotional videos posted to YouTube by Jon Hansell Nilsson from Sweden. All are under two minutes long.
The Choreographic Applications Committee has created this resource site to assist those who are teaching square dancers. Its intent is to collect in one place all the information about each call that teachers might need to teach students successfully.
Dick Bull was the lead technician at Hilton Audio for over 25 years. He now operates an equipment repair service for Hilton products.
This square dance marketing plan has been developed by CALLERLAB members in support of our mission: “To foster the art of square dance calling, and improve caller skills.” Just like the square dancer population, the number of square dance callers today is dramatically smaller than 30 years ago. For CALLERLAB to increase the population of callers, we must start by growing the population of square dancers, thereby providing more opportunities for callers to call, and developing a population base from which new callers will be recruited.
This story describes how Westsyde Squares in British Columbia used marketing savvy and well targeted advertising to recruit a large new contingent of dancers. It contains a lot of great information about what messages people responded to, as well as an insightful discussion of the reasoning behind the design of the advertising which was a significant element in their success.
This year, Jim Langdon introduced the Rocky Mountain Recruiting Program to the Mountaineers. Although we had been doing a lot of the pieces of the program, we adopted the entire program. The main emphasis was to set up a committee of 5 couples to divide the work. We also had expectations that the Club Members were to actively pursue new dancers. Our goal was to collect 100 names and end up with 20 new members.
This newsletter article describes some studies and articles that discuss the health benefits of dancing.
This detailed recruiting plan was abstracted from the CALLERLAB Marketing Manual. The report includes some success story examples and the Rocky Mountain Recruiting Plan is one of them. This article details the general plan and includes a description of one successful execution.
This letter from the ARTS organization contains promotional materials and plans useful to clubs planning to start a new class.
The Town of Strathroy has a population base of about 8,500, located about 35 km west of London, ON. Including some surrounding rural areas the natural catchment area is about 22,000. Despite this relatively small population to draw from, this club has a very successful beginner program with 40 paid-up new dancers. How exactly did they accomplish that?
Specializing in the repair of all models of Hilton Audio equipment.
Also specializing in the sales and repair of Williams Sound hearing assistance systems
Type Document Author Gardner Patton Date 2006-01-01 Links Low Cost Hearing Assist Description This article describes how to put together a low cost hearing assist system for dancers that have hearing issues.
This site permits you to purchase recorded dances done by a variety of callers as well as some special festivals such as AACE, PACE Extravaganza, and Heartland. In addition there are a number of sets of teaching recordings for levels C1 through C3A. Recordings are provided as downloadable MP3s. The site focuses primarily on Advanced and Challenge, although some callers have provided some Plus tips. This site is a tape group’s best friend.
This article from Paul Cote provides an overview of what is involved in becoming a caller. If you’re thinking about learning to call, this article will give you some insight into what you’re signing up for.
This article is actually a promotion for Arthur Murray Dance Studios, but it lists a variety of studies that support the benefits of dance for brain health. The studies apply equally well to square dancing.
This newsletter article from a new caller describes what it’s like trying to learn to call, and what support and resources would be useful to a new caller.
This newsletter article describes a Pinterest board established by the Canadian Square and Round Dance Society (CSRDS) that contains material useful in the promotion of square dancing.
Hilton Audio is a primary site for purchasing specialized sound equipment related to square dance calling.
This 178 page book presents a Step By Step Process For Calling And Teaching Modern Western Square Dances. if you’ve ever thought you might like to be a square dance caller, this is the place to start.
This article documents a Japanese study on the effects of engaging in dance activities, or playing musical instruments, in individuals displaying symptoms of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). Their overall conclusion: “Long-term cognitive leisure activity programs involving dance or playing musical instruments resulted in improvements in memory and general cognitive function”.
“In this study, we show that two different types of physical exercise (dancing and endurance training) both increase the area of the brain that declines with age. In comparison, it was only dancing that lead to noticeable behavioral changes in terms of improved balance.”
Morrison Grand Squares in Morrison, IL went from zero to 60 members in just two years. This item shows how they did it and provides details of their marketing plan.
In four years the Happy Time Squares in Lawrence, Kansas, went from zero to 140 members!
In 2012 the club was very close to folding due to lack of members so new club leadership took responsibility to develop a growth strategy. The result – by 2017 they have 80 new members.
This article contains the text of a keynote address by Eric Henerlau at the 66th US National in Cincinnati in 2017. It is full of great ideas for growing square dancing.
This summary article from Julian Pritchard describes the various teaching and dancing recordings their group has been using to learn and to dance in the absence of a live caller.
Claudia Littlefair is the editor of the Alberta Chatter newsletter. This edition provides a wonderful compilation of a number of articles dealing with advertising, marketing, promotion, and recruiting.
This summary article contains a table (see below) that contains links to the interviews that Bob Brundage did with a wide variety of notable people in the square dance community. These interviews represent a huge project for which Bob was awarded the CALLERLAB Milestone award in 2012. Both audio files and written transcripts are provided. Listening to these interviews provides a unique and personal vantage point on some of the seminal developments in square dance history.
The IAGSDC is an umbrella organization for square dance clubs around the world that serve the LGBTQ community. Their History Wiki presents a wide range of historical information about LGBTQ square dancing, including current and past clubs, notable people, their annual Convention, the Gay Callers Association (GCA) and other affiliated organizations, as well as the evolution of the IAGSDC itself.
The CDSS site contains material about a variety of country dance forms including square dancing, contra dancing, and English country dancing. In addition to historical and cultural information, there are many pointers to other resources and information.
The Lloyd Shaw Foundation preserves and shares a diverse range of dance and music traditions with an inter-generational audience. We develop leadership in traditional dance and music forms, and sponsor events and scholarships to ensure their continuity. Through our archives housed at the University of Denver, and at our Dance Center in Albuquerque, NM, we retain important historical records that document the past and enable us to preserve the future of traditional American folk dance.
Despite its popularity, the history of square dance has been sparsely documented. Only a few currently published and available books offer any detailed discussion of the development of this form of American social dance. Four of those are described here in the KnowledgeBase. The Square Dance History Project (http://squaredancehistory.com) site offers hundreds of documents, sound clips, and videos that further illustrate this history.
The Sets In Order magazines are one of their legacies that comprise in these pages the history of modern square dancing. Bob began publishing SIO in 1948 and the last issue was issued in December 1985, 444 issues. The issues contain articles on almost every imaginable aspect of square dancing and calling.
This book was compiled and edited by Paul Moore. It describes the life and career of Bob Osgood, one of the founding fathers of MWSD and through that lens provides an enlightening vantage point on the evolution and growth of the square dance activity. Much of it is in Bob’s own words, taken from his own articles, notes, and recordings. A remarkable insight into a remarkable man.
This handout from the CDLS session at the 2017 CALLERLAB convention explains how to slave one sound system to another using a hearing assist system. This avoids having to string long cables when sounding large rooms.