SCAN is a health plan that publishes a newsletter for its members. The January 2016 edition contained an article talking about the benefits of square dancing for physical, social, and cognitive health. Considering the natural interest a medical plan has in promoting the overall good health of its members, this represents a strong endorsement.
Each year the CALLERLAB Convention provides two full days of education and information sessions. For many years audio recordings have been made of selected sessions, and latterly some have also been recorded on video. So far, CALLERLAB has posted several hundred of these recordings to YouTube, to make them generally available. There are many more to come, so this is an ongoing process. The table below shows the date and description of each posted recording and a link to the YouTube entry for it. This article lists audio files only.
Each year the CALLERLAB Convention provides two full days of education and information sessions. For many years audio recordings have been made of selected sessions, and latterly some have also been recorded on video. So far, CALLERLAB has posted several hundred of these recordings to YouTube, to make them generally available. There are many more to come, so this is an ongoing process. The table below shows the date and description of each posted recording and a link to the YouTube entry for it.
For many years, as a lead-in to the main convention, CALLERLAB has hosted a 1-1/2 day seminar focusing on how to call square dance parties for non-dancers. CALLERLAB has posted to YouTube videos of a number of the presentations from the 2014 BDPLS. These presentations constitute a wealth of information about how to make such events a success. They cover everything from dance material to promotion to preparations to contracts, and much more.
As square dance callers, we communicate with dancers using several mediums, but primarily auditory. Dancers react to our verbal commands. Due to the increasing age of dancers, statistics indicate that a large percentage of them more than likely have a significant hearing impairment, even if they do not wear hearing aids. Learn why people can “hear, but not understand”; the effects of background noise on comprehension; why people prefer different levels of loudness and louder isn’t always better; whether or not hearing aids help, and more. Improve your calling by learning techniques to help all dancers hear and understand you better. Susan is a Clinical Audiologist with over 30 years of experience.
Presentation on the how’s and why’s of teaching styling to new dancers. How styling can help you and your dancers to succeed. Functional styling that helps dancers succeed and feel comfortable dancing (as opposed to regulated styling that implies “do it this way because I told you to” and “this is the way we always do it”).
Don Beck provides an introduction to his mental image choreography system to the Caller Coach committee at the 2013 CALLERLAB Convention. It provides a quick overview of how the system works and illustrates some of its power. If you’re interested in learning to use this system, you can find information about Don’s book “Out Of Sight”
This article printed in the Tullahoma News from Tullahoma, Tennessee provides some interesting historical background and a lot of information on the benefits and appeal of square dancing.
IDEA: Advertising square dance lessons by placing a sign on a lawn or a poster on a telephone pole is not new. But this new twist shows how with a little more active management, the tactic can be much more effective than you might think.
This idea was extracted from a Winning Ways Story. You can read more detail on this idea and see the context in which it was used by clicking on the link to the left
If you think it’s inevitable that square dancing is destined to decline, ask any member of Frontier Squares from Milford, Ohio – and they’ll offer a different opinion.
For the 2014-15 square dance season, the Red Deer Square Dance Club decided to try something new and untested for introducing New Dancers to square dancing. Instead of the usual 6-7 month lessons once a week, we wanted to do a 12 week, twice a week approach. Red Deer has always had lessons on a separate night than the regular dances, so our new dancers get more floor time right from the start than most other clubs who teach on their regular dance night.
The Banff Trailers Club dance every second Saturday, and have New Dancer lessons every Monday night. Each September several New Dancers would join, but due to factors such as illness, time constraints, vacations, only some were able to complete the year. The club was looking for a new way to increase their numbers, and when ‘The Nest’ idea was presented they agreed to give it a try during the 2014-15 dance year.
An account of how using a Fast Track program helped to reinvigorate the Country Sunshiners club.
IDEA: This article abstracted from the November 2015 edition of the Alberta Chatter newsletter describes how a club uses innovative signage as an aid to recruiting new dancers.
Have you ever been asked to give an interview about square dancing? It can often catch you by surprise. This sheet of talking points from Eric Henerlau can help you prepare yourself for a controlled and positive experience with your interview. In fact, it’s a good idea to have some of these at your fingertips any time. You never know when someone in an elevator is going to ask you why you’re there or what’s going on in the ballrooms.
This 78 page document is a detailed description of how callers can use dancer relationships as a tool for resolving squares. See the document abstract below for additional details.
IDEA: It is a different approach. I am stressing the health benefits of square dancing. The idea is we will get these rack cards professionally printed. We will buy the plastic rack holders and then our members will approach doctors offices, medical centres, activity centres, health food stores, or anywhere they can find that is suitable for our display there. Hopefully one person/couple will take responsibility of one or two holders, finding a location and keeping it stocked.
This article by Richard Powers discusses the findings of a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2003 which found that dancing offers protection against dementia. Square dancing is not specifically singled out, but the information presented seems to indicate that it would provide one of the highest degrees of protection.
In the past there have been plans that provide for a Program with less calls (ABC, Community Dance Program, Basic 1, etc.) with little thought to moving those folks who dance that Program forward. There have also been multi-cycle plans which have short periods between new class starts but they have not included a way for people who want to, to dance frequently to a Program lower than Mainstream.
The plan described here is a combination of the best parts of those two plans, and shows that if it is implemented in a region where there are multiple clubs, who all follow the plan, a new dance Program can be introduced into the region which has fewer calls thus creating a pool of dancers from which new Mainstream dancers will eventually emerge.
This brochure was produced by a CALLERLAB Ad Hoc committee. It explains and contrasts traditional lesson structures with multi-cycle and accelerated programs.
This book covers all the bases starting with the new caller just learning how to call and on through the old hands looking for ways to expand their collection of modules and to learn new tricks on how to use square dance modules to improve their calling skills.
The 18 dances featured in this short book use only four basics. Circle Right/Left, Forward & Back, Arm Turns, Star Right/Left. These four basics are used in big circles, line dances, contra dance, square dances, trios, and mixers. This enables the teacher to teach only four dance movement and then to use these same movements in various ways to provide a great deal of variety in dances.
This book is an excellent resource for someone planning a party night or beginner dance. “Dancing for Busy People” is a collection of over 400 dances using easy to teach dance movements. Most dances use only walking movements based on commonly used square dance terminology. Only 25 basics are used.
This music site contains a huge collection of the offerings of many of the square dance music producers and permits online purchase and download. The site also has a number of very useful sections, for example music for special occasions or themes such as Valentine’s Day, Christmas, or St. Patrick’s. You can find music by title, label, or artist. They also sell equipment such as speakers, microphones, and hearing enhancement systems.
Most of the producers of Square Dance Music have joined together to provide this combined website for music specifically produced for use in square dancing. It is an all-inclusive site that includes most of the labels in operation today. There are links to the sites of individual producers. There is also a search function that allows you to search for specific music by title, caller, or original artist, as well as pull up a list of the most recent releases. In most cases listening samples of the music are provided.
Report from Jean and Howard Lander about their success in starting up a new club in Peterborough, Ontario. The report contains much interesting information about how they advertised, promoted, and recruited for the new group.
Report from Barbara Blencoe about how her square dance group and activity helped her rehabilitation from a stroke.
Out of Sight is a book that teaches square dance callers how to manage choreography using a mental image system.
Tim Marriner was a CALLERLAB Accredited Caller Coach who created and published a large quantity of caller educational material over the years. Tim generously made this wealth of informative articles available for free download in PDF format. Sadly, Tim died suddenly in 2016, depriving square dancing of one of its most knowledgeable and articulate advocates.
This site is designed to introduce non-dancers to the general world of square, round, and contra dancing. It includes demonstration videos, pointers to resources and clubs, and information about how to get started in the activity. It’s a great reference for that friend who asks you for information about dancing.
This site contains a tool that allows viewers to watch an animation of a call being performed, often from a variety of starting formations. It provides an excellent educational tool to assist both dancers and callers in understanding the action of calls. It covers calls for programs from Basic to C3B. A mobile version of the tool is also available that can be operated offline on an Android or iPhone device.
This Dance Resource is a compilation of Beginner Party Dances, Community Dances, Contra Dances, and Traditional Square Dances. Dances are grouped by type and listed in HTML code for easy viewing.
This site provides a comprehensive list of upcoming special events as well as regular dances in a geographical area. You can search for dances by area, by level, or time period. You can look for clubs that dance particular programs or on particular days. You find locations and addresses. A huge collection of information about square dance events.
Ceder.net is a comprehensive collection of resources related to square dancing.
This document contains a listing of Caller Schools sponsored and staffed by CALLERLAB members for 2021.
DOCUMENT: This document was prepared by the Caller Training Committee to assist those callers who are mentoring newer callers.
In 2012 CALLERLAB commissioned an Ad Hoc committee to work with ACA to document a condensed teaching system that some callers had been using successfully for some time. The Press Release document describes the project and presents the initial output of the Ad Hoc in April of 2013. Additional materials and documentation were developed by the CALLERLAB members and a detailed booklet was released in December of 2014. That booklet (access via the Full Document link) includes the suggested calls to teach along with abbreviated definitions, teaching tips and other useful information. This system is sometimes referred to as the Condensed Teaching Order (CTO) and sometimes as the Condensed Teaching Method (CTM).
This document is a compendium describing dozens of known systems for resolving squares, including both sight and module based approaches. The objective was to document as many systems as possible that are currently in use by experienced callers. Experienced callers can use it to discover different approaches that may help them add variety. Newer callers can use it to select a method that would work best for them as they are learning to resolve smoothly.
IDEA: We used to go to an annual 1-day festival. In the evening they had a non-dancer hall. We could bring non-dancing friends and they would spend a couple of hours learning a few basics while we danced in the other halls. Then we could join them and dance a couple of tips together. It made for a great introduction to our activity.
Report from Don Wood describing how they revised their beginner offerings to increase their recruiting success.
Report from Ken Robinson describing how Rutgers Promenaders rebuilt their club after a period of decline.
Report from Dave Harry describing how combining a “no experience necessary” floor with a Mainstream dance introduced 15 squares of non-dancers to our activity.
Report from Eva Murray about how over a period of years the Village Swingers is rebuilding their club through effective advertising and improved teaching programs.
IDEA: A “brainstorming” session was held during the opening session of the CALLERLAB Convention in 2015. The audience was seated at round tables with 8-10 people at a table. Each table was asked to brainstorm for 10 minutes or so on things that could be done to “improve square dancing” (however they conceived of that). Ideas were just written down by each individual as fast as they occurred to them. Each table was asked to rank their ideas and select the top 3. Then those 3 were taken to another table, which was asked to rank them. The attached Excel spreadsheet contains those ideas. There are 441 items of information. Some are cryptic or unformed, some are well-trodden ground, but many are valuable.
Report from Bill and Marge Webb, Brecksville Squares. They report information of actions the club took to increase the number of new dancers in the club. Very helpful information for any club looking to add new dancers.
The purpose of this article is to relate our very positive experience in early 2007 with teaching the CALLERLAB Mainstream program using the “Fast Track” (or accelerated) approach. We are writing this as we prepare our lesson plan to begin teaching in this format again in early 2008.
This report was received from Robert Hurst with a report from Don Wood regarding a New Dancer class in Washington state. The report indicates that good advertising, hard work, and recruiting can be successful. Ten squares showed up on the first night!
The ALPS program that I have been using for the last several years is not original to me. It is an adaptation of a number of different concepts such as “Blast”, “Blitz” and “Crash Course” that have been talked about at Callerlab and other caller gatherings, in recent years. The concept: Quick equip new dancers with enough square dance vocabulary and dance skill so that they can quickly join regular club dances.
At the meeting of the Central Ohio Council of Dance Clubs (COCDC) on May 4, 2009, it was announced to the council representatives that we were forming a group to try to promote square dancing, recruit more new dancers for our classes in the fall, and ultimately to increase membership in our clubs.
What?…a Saturday morning square dance class? Why not! People take walks, run, ride a bike, walk the dog, or go to a gym for exercise on Saturdays. Why not learn to square dance and get the same benefits and meet some great people at the same time. The Martinez Swingers of Martinez, California has joined with the Martinez Adult Education (MAE) to offer such a class. Each Saturday morning from 10:30AM to 12:30PM dancers from the Martinez Swingers, acting as “Angels”, join with the class members for the two-hour sessions.
A report from Dennis H. Deluga about what can be done to help a club become successful. It deals with a number of areas including leadership, communication, and outreach, that clubs must address in order to be successful.
So in the fall of 2003 the club decided to try a different approach. We had heard about the accelerated lesson program at the 52nd National Square Dance Convention® and continued to hear good things about it. We decided to try it in September. We advertised in the local newspapers, but we did not have any new dancers show up so we only did the one day. We felt some of our weaker dancers from the two previous classes really benefited from that
one day so it was not a loss.
The desire for a tape to show at square dance demos, showing the fun and excitement of Square Dancing, has developed into a 15 minute Square Dancing Infomercial in Minnesota’s Central East Region.
An account of how Broken Wheel Squares revitalized their club by using theme nights and rejigging how they communicated and organized.
The Belles and Beaus of Pomeroy, Ohio had a new dancer group of 7 couples and 3 singles in 2002. Their success in recruiting was attributed to two activities. Several weeks prior to the start of their new dancer session a written invitation was sent to former dancers inviting them to a “Come Back to Square Dancing Party”. They obtained the membership lists from three area clubs that had folded plus past membership lists of their own. They also placed ads in 3 local newspapers. The papers listed their club activities and new dancer group in their social calendar. The papers also carried a news story a couple of weeks prior to the start of their new dancer session.
Realizing a marketing opportunity in having the non-dancing public see a large Saturday dance, the club recently advertised their dance to the general public. Non-dancers were invited to attend at no charge. A special introductory session was held 30 minutes prior to the dance, during which the caller taught some basics with the club dancers filling the floor. After the half-hour was completed the public was invited to stay and watch the square dancing. Between tips, mixers and easy lines were played with everyone invited to join in. Twenty non-dancers attended and thoroughly enjoyed themselves with several joining a new dancer session that started 3 weeks later.
For the past six years, Hank Lutcher from Cogan Station, PA has been teaching Modern Western Square Dancing six weeks each year at the Jersey Shore School District #6 Jr High School. This report outlines his experiences.
We have enjoyed thirty-seven new dancers (students) for lessons this year ….. thirty-seven! Our lesson nights have ten to eleven squares, and yes, they are a bit noisy with all the laughter and fellowship.
When we polled our new dancers to see what brought them to our lessons and squares, thirty-seven came because of a personal invite; one couple found our club on the Internet. Sixteen new dancers said they had previously seen a demo; four had seen a flyer at a fair; and four read our article in the local newspaper. However, this did not bring them to our lessons …. it was the personal invitation that brought them to lessons.
An encouraging story about a club rejuvenating itself.
This report provided Questions and Answers concerning the Square Dance Video produced by the Minnesota square dancers.
This report provides information from Santa Clara County, California about Teaching Square Dancing in the Classroom in a program called “Workshop for Teachers”.
This is a report from Eddie Harry with information about the 25th Anniversary of the Square Dance as the official State Dance of Washington. (10-01-2004)
The Boomerangs is a club that is not a club. We are not a dancing club; rather we are a teaching council with multitiered classes. We exist for one purpose, to hold square dance classes.Our concept has been a combination of already tried ideas and new ideas. We are always evolving and trying to adjust to changing times.
This is a report on teen dancers in Petaluma, CA as reported in the Press Democrat By Janet Parmer.
A number of clubs in New Zealand have had much better success than usual attracting new dancers this year. None of us are quite sure why, but we think it has a lot to do with the general theme of our advertising, which has been “If you enjoy walking for pleasure and exercise, you’ll love square dancing”.
Hard work and perseverance has paid off for the 49’ersSquare Dance Club of South Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There are 24 new dancers in their 2002-03 class. Their promotional efforts started in 1999 after not having any new dancers in 1997 or 1998.
In the various square dance magazines and web sites you can read how square dance clubs and national organizations have plans for advertising square dancing, for “improving” our public image, for altering the dance program and for growing memberships. For the SAGE Swingers in the process began with a change in philosophy. What are the club’s goals for its dancers? The Club thinks this can determine how you go about gaining and keeping new members.
The Gnat Boxers of Wooster, Ohio have 22 members in their new dancer group for the 2002-2003 dance year. They have 4 singles, 2 men and 2 women, and 9 couples that range in age from their late 30’s to early 40’s. The destination level is plus with all the calls taught in one continuous season starting in September to mid April. This past year they had a story in the local paper with a picture of two couples with contact names listed. The club also has a float they use in area parades which gets good audience reaction. The club also does demos for local activities and passes out flyers, with word of mouth still the best advertisement.
During the early 1990’s, the Valley Trailers Square Dance Club of Northridge, California had lost much of its membership from earlier years. The club had also fallen on bad times financially. The then board of directors decided that something new should be tried in order to secure the club’s future.
It was decided to try the Multi-Cycle new dancer program to see if this would bring in more revenue and class members. The President approached caller Vern Weese, who was familiar with the program, to teach the class and in September of 1994, the Multi-Cycle program was started using a 12 + 12 system through the plus program.
We received the following information from Mary Knoppe with information about a square dance video program made available to viewers on Public Access television in the Santa Clara Valley area of Northern California. Our first taping was on April 19, 2004. We have taped a total of 26 shows since our starting date. We tape at the Comcast studio in San Jose, Ca. On each show taping date, two 28 minute programs are taped. Shows are live tape (no post production editing).
One of our members runs a local bed and breakfast which happens to be an old farm (Victorian farmhouse and a big old barn). At his suggestion, we’ve started having dances on our regular club night over at his barn about once every 6 weeks, and we invite all three of the local clubs. These have turned into a regular affair.
An account of how clubs in Texas increased their membership by rethinking how they approached recruiting and lesson plans.
This report is from the Hubs Square dance Club in Geauga County, Ohio and their caller, Ray Miller. It concerns the Hubs and their accelerated square dance class for the season 2004-05. The club started the class in October 2004 and continued through the last Monday in February 2005 with graduation on Monday March 6, 2005. Each class was three hours long and scheduled from 7 -10 PM. With the help of some very dedicated angels we were able to cover a large amount of material, using the CALLERLAB teaching list, each night and still have time for a great deal of review.
There is some good news for square dance clubs that want to grow. A solid solution is available to help any club willing to be smart and progressive. But the club must have people who are willing to make some fundamental changes in programming and attitudes. The Multi Cycle system offers two or more starts for new dancers each year. Clubs using this system reach more people more often. New dancers are tireless, enthusiastic recruiters and they tap into new networks of friends and associates not just once, but two or more times per year.
The Town Howlers have gained a lot of publicity for their club and square dancing through the use of their local cable TV company and the efforts of club member Rick Williams.
In March 2003 the Akron Area Square and Round Dance Federation sponsored a Saturday afternoon Leadership Seminar for all member clubs and clubs from the neighboring Federations. All area callers and cuers were extended an invitation. There were 96 in attendance.
The Square Benders are currently one of the larger clubs in the Milwaukee, WI area with 22 couples and 13 singles. Their 2002-2003 new dancer group has 5 couples and 5 singles. This group of new dancers came from several sources. The club runs an ad in the local paper, beginning in June, with a number to contact for more information. The names are recorded of all those responding for later follow up. One couple invited members from their Bible Study Group and another invited people from their camping club.
The AL e MO Squares, 150 members strong, will celebrate their 25th Anniversary in May 2003. They are holding an Anniversary Dance and through personal contact, by club members, they have invited several of the local politicians to be their guests. They run a 10 + 10 program with 27 new dancers this year. They alternate tips during the evening with those in the first group serving as angels for the newest dancers. They graduate their new dancers at Mainstream.
Mike suggested that they contact the local Co-operative Extension Office (4H) to see if they would be interested in sponsoring the teens as a part of 4H. Not only was the Co-operative Extension Office hugely interested, they have offered to give the group a hall every Friday night at no charge! It will also be publicized in the 4H catalogue as a part of their many programs for youth. But this is not the end of the story.
The Kittyhawk Squares are a social club that square dances and not a square dance club that socializes. We have an excellent home dance location: The Lathrem Senior Center of the Kettering Recreational Center. They help recruit and publicize our events in their bi-monthly news letter.
This article summarizes several experimental approaches to teaching new dancers known to be in use at the time of writing.
All of these systems are aimed at the recruiting of new people into a system of progressive lessons that graduate them as Modern Western Square Dancers capable of dancing some CALLERLAB square dance program (for example, Mainstream or Plus). The systems described are Multi-Cycle, Condensed Teaching Order, Sustainable Square Dance, The NEST, and General Dance Program.
There are many calls for which we have well known “standard” applications, and we have even documented many of them in the Standard Applications documents. “Standard”, however, does not mean “easier” — it really means “more common”. There are many infrequently used applications that are not hard, they’re just infrequent. Because they’re infrequent, dancers bobble when they hear them, so we avoid them, so they stay infrequent: vicious circle. If you are interested in enriching your dancers’ experience with usages that are not hard, just infrequently used, this session is for you.
This summary page points to material useful for doing single party nights or other dances aimed at people with no prior dance training. These dances are intended to be stand-alone events held strictly for the enjoyment of the dancers on that night. They are not designed to be recruiting vehicles for MWSD clubs, although there may well be cases where such an event might pique someone’s interest in a MWSD club.
Handout provided by Pam Clasper for the Orientation session at CALLERLAB 2013. It describes the purpose of the CALLERLAB organization and the benefits of being a member.
IDEA: One of the most difficult parts of learning to call is finding opportunities to practice with live dancers. Today’s computer technologies could compensate for some of that by providing a program to drill callers that are in the process of learning choreographic techniques that require them to quickly see patterns and make decisions about how to manipulate the square.
IDEA: Recruiting new callers: Once a year in our area, a club in our area has an “amateur callers night”. It is announced a few months in advance. Criteria is that you are interested in calling and/or you have never been paid to call a dance. I personally know of 4 people who have become callers from this event.
IDEA: Many universities and colleges have exchange student programs or foreign student programs where young people come from other countries to advance their education. Often these students are interested in new social activities, especially ones that serve to introduce them to western culture. Many of these institutions have special exchange student social programs. Approaching the people coordinating such programs could generate interest in scheduling square dances for the students.
IDEA: Many gas stations have advertising on top of their pumps. In many cases this space is for sale and could be used to advertise square dance lessons or events.
This presentation session covered how to plan for events that are larger than a standard club dance, either in duration or number of dancers. This could range anywhere from a special club dance where other clubs are invited to attend, all the way to a major convention spanning several days and employing multiple callers in multiple halls.
This article aggregates a number of sources for obtaining music suitable for square dancing. It includes both music specially produced for square dancing and also sources of alternative music.
This video shows the keynote address at the 2014 CALLERLAB convention in Reno, Nevada. It spawned the now famous catchphrase that “Nobody is talking about square dancing because nobody is talking about square dancing”.