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Square dancing. Was: Contra dancing

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    Patricia Ruggiero Oct. 3, 2001, 3:10 a.m. (Message 27684)

    Adam wrote:
    "Square dances are all called and they have a medal system which means you
    can't must sit out certain dances if you haven't got the medal!"
    
    Perhaps you are unaware that there are (at least) two forms of Square
    Dancing in the U.S.?  *Traditional* square dancing consists of simple, very
    accessible figures, and is often coupled with contra dances.  For example,
    in the Washington, D.C., area, in the mid-80s, the Friday and Sunday evening
    dances were "contras and squares."  Squares have since fallen out of favor
    there and are, sadly, rarely done.
    
    *Western* square or *Club* square dancing sounds like the variety to which
    you refer.  First a dancer must take a Basic Class, learning the basic 50
    calls (which, as it turns out, are the very ones that constitute
    *traditional* square dancing: grand chain, ladies chain, forward and back,
    circle, right and left through, pass through, among others).  Only after
    mastering these can a dancer move up to Plus Levels where increasing more
    complicated figures prevail.  I don't recall whether one actually gets a
    certificate or medal, but as far as I know it is true that you can't just
    walk into a club dance and expect to join a square without some evidence
    that  you can actually do the dances.
    
    Note that the figures listed above are those that we find, with some
    variation allowed for change across time and space, in ECD and SCD.
    
    Pat
    who moved from the D.C. area in 1998 and now does SCD in Charlottesville and
    Richmond regularly, ECD once a month in C'ville, and contra once a year
    (when an outstanding band comes to town)
  • ...

    Adam Hughes Oct. 3, 2001, 2:03 p.m. (Message 27692, in reply to message 27684)

    Thanks Pat.  I didn't appreciate the difference.  It sounds like here we 
    get some "Traditional" square at our fortnightly contra evenings, and it 
    is the "Western" Square dancers who get uptight about us not doing them 
    right, much like some of the SCDers get when we dance Posties Jig twice 
    through without stopping at a Ceilidh.
    
    The point was:
    Calling and writing cribs, listening to callers and reading cribs.  They 
    are two parallel sets of skills, and neither is harder than the other. 
    America has lots of good callers, the UK has fewer, but cribs only need 
    writing once well to still be valid.  Both western square clubs and SCD 
    clubs attach a mystique to reading these runes, which I think is daft.
    
    What can we do to make cribbing more accessible?  Since the accepted 
    method of learnig a dance for a SCD ball is by cribbing, should we be 
    teaching cribbing in classes, as much as teaching by walk through?  Has 
    anyone any good resource for teaching people to read cribs?
    
    Adam
    Cambridge, UK.
  • ...

    Lara D. Friedman~Shedlov Oct. 3, 2001, 4:26 p.m. (Message 27696, in reply to message 27692)

    Quoting Adam Hughes <xxxxxxxxxxx@xxxxx.xx.xx>:
    > cribs only need writing once well to still be valid.  Both western 
    > square clubs and SCD
    > clubs attach a mystique to reading these runes, which I think is
    > daft.
    >
     I'm baffled by this comment.  The whole point of cribs is to be 
    succinct and easy to understand (usually at the expense of some of the 
    fine details about the dance).  I never thought of them as having any 
    kind of mystique.
    
    
    *******************************
    Lara Friedman-Shedlov     
    xxxx@xxxxxxx.xxx
    *******************************
  • ...

    Adam Hughes Oct. 3, 2001, 5:54 p.m. (Message 27699, in reply to message 27696)

    Lara Friedman-Shedlov wrote:
    
    >  I'm baffled by this comment.  The whole point of cribs is to be 
    > succinct and easy to understand (usually at the expense of some of the 
    > fine details about the dance).  I never thought of them as having any 
    > kind of mystique.
    
    Lara, tell me your secret! Which wand do you wave so the people you know 
    who have been dancing about 3 months have no trouble with cribs?
    
    For a beginner, sorry I mean "new person", going to your first ball, you 
    get given a wedge of paper that bears no relation to the words that your 
    teacher has used, and you have no chance to ask questions of the author. 
      Can you imagine a new person at their first ball putting up their hand 
    and asking the MC whether they should pass right or left shoulder on bar 
    17?  And the response?
    
    If I had a penny for each person I had to individually persuade at the 
    club I dance in that a crib was not an instrument of torture, but was in 
    fact "succinct and easy to understand", I'd have more than 20 pence... 
    Some of them still don't think that.  Most of them are educated people. 
      Most of them are young (under 30).
    
    Adam
    Cambridge, UK
  • ...

    Norah Link Oct. 3, 2001, 6:56 p.m. (Message 27701, in reply to message 27684)

    > If I had a penny for each person I had to individually 
    > persuade at the 
    > club I dance in that a crib was not an instrument of torture, 
    > but was in 
    > fact "succinct and easy to understand", I'd have more than 20 
    > pence... 
    > Some of them still don't think that.  Most of them are 
    > educated people. 
    >   Most of them are young (under 30).
    > 
    
    I think there are two issues here:  one is learning how to interpret the
    written instructions, the other is learning to read other people's
    short-hand.
    
    As far as learning to read the written instructions, what it takes is
    practice.  In classes that were geared more towards beginners, I have
    occasionally given dancers "homework" of taking home a copy of a dance (a
    fairly simple dance), learning it on their own, and being prepared to dance
    it the next week.  That way they have to look at the page, read the name of
    the figure, think to themselves what that ends up looking like on the dance
    floor, where it fits in the total context of the dance, etc.  A whole bunch
    of skills get practiced.  If the dance is relatively simple (note:  give
    them a good chance to succeed), then it also provides an opportunity to talk
    about the different ways that dance instructions are written and how to get
    from the printed page to the dance floor.
    
    As for the short-hand used in some ball programs:  there seem to be several
    used, with no very clear standard.  Makes it a bit difficult to teach.  But
    if someone were to bring me one they couldn't work out, I would be happy to
    help them with it (note this key phrase:  without a standard, some of these
    cribs are as puzzling to teachers not from the area as to anyone else) and
    use the opportunity to expose the class to it. 
    
    regards,
    
    Norah Link (Montreal, QC, Canada)
  • ...

    Norah Link Oct. 3, 2001, 7:04 p.m. (Message 27702, in reply to message 27684)

    > If I had a penny for each person I had to individually 
    > persuade at the 
    > club I dance in that a crib was not an instrument of torture, 
    > but was in 
    > fact "succinct and easy to understand", I'd have more than 20 
    > pence... 
    > Some of them still don't think that.  Most of them are 
    > educated people. 
    >   Most of them are young (under 30).
    
    
    P.S. Have you considered that it may also be necessary to redesign your
    cribs so they are easier to understand quickly?
    
    Norah Link (Montreal, QC)

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