Author: Administrator

“Don’t Cry Over Broken Squares … Fix Them! Part 3” by Allan Hurst reprinted from the May 2004 issue of Times Squared

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Symmetry and Image Dancers

In his book, The Extemporaneous Caller, Bill Davis defines the concept of “Image Dancers,” which are dancers who are diametrically opposite across the set from each other, and at the dame distance from the flagpole center of the square. Image dancers will always be the same dance genders (e.g. two girls or two boys.) Many people refer to image dancers as “mirror dancers” or “mirror opposites.”

Assuming all called choreography in a given sequence is symmetric in nature, all image dancers will always remain symmetric, and at the same distance from the flagpole center of the square. It doesn’t matter what the formation is.

A formation is considered symmetric if both of the following conditions apply: (A) A line from any dancer through the flagpole center of the square intersects a dancer at the same distance from the center on the other side. (B) Any two image dancers are facing the same direction (e.g., clockwise, counterclockwise, in, out, etc.) relative to the flagpole center of the square.

Using Your Image Dancer to Recover

Now that you know what an image dancer is, you can easily use this concept to review your part of a broken square.

If you’re dancing in a square and suddenly don’t know where you should go or are uncertain that you ended up in the correct spot, just look across the flagpole center of the square. Is that your image dancer? If so, you’re probably OK (unless both of you made the same mistake, in which case there’s nothing more you can do.) If it’s not your image dancer, move into the position in your half of the square that corresponds to your image dancer.

Speaking frankly, this method will only work if you have an image dancer that you know dances at least as well as you do. If you think you image dancer is weaker that you, this method probably won’t work.

Using Your Mirror Dancer to Recover

If you have a weak image dancer, don’t give up – there is still hope!

It’s always a good idea when squaring up to make a mental not of your partner, your corner, and your image dancer. (This is one of the reasons many callers often deliberately draw your attention to those people at the beginning of a tip – for example “Bow to your partner, Yellow rock your corner…”) Let’s add one more person to that list: your “mirror dancer” in another square.

When you square up, after you figure out who’s who in your square, make a point of finding another nearby square, and make a mental note of who in that square is dancing in your position. If you’re the #2 girl in your square, not down the #2 girl in the square next to you. All you have to remember is the person dancing the same position as you.

If you find yourself losing track during a complex sequence, take a quick glance at the other square, and wee where your mirror dancer is. I’ve observed this technique being used frequently in Advance and Challenge dancing, where I’ve heard it termed “checkpointing.” If you get lost, this may be the fastest way for you to get back into the correct position.

Please note: checkpointing, or using your mirror dancer, is not a substitute for knowing dance calls! This is a technique I suggest using on y during complex or unfamiliar choreography, where you think you’re doing the calls correctly, but perhaps missed a call or part of a call and got confused.

“Don’t Cry Over Broken Squares … Fix Them! Part 2” by Allan Hurst reprinted from the May 2004 issue of Times Squared

Click here for the previous part and here for the next part.

Callerlab Recovery

Callerlab’s suggested method of recovery is for everyone in the broken square to return to their home (starting_ positions, and the heads slide right to form lines facing side walls. The caller will either pick up the facing lines (often using the hint, “Lines forward and back.”) and keep going or resolve the sequence quickly, in which case the heads just slide back to their starting position.

If any of the techniques in this article don’t work for you, use this method as your fallback. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s standard and any experienced caller will recognize what’s going on immediately.

“Half-Broken” Square Recovery

If only one-half of your squares is broken (for example, during a “spin the top” involving both sides of the square), here’s a good “just keep moving” strategy. If you’re in the broken half of the square, make up a formation that look like the unbroken half of the squares, make a right-handwave with boys on the end. It doesn’t matter if the right boy is on the right end. The objective at this point is to keep your square moving to the end of the sequence!

If you’re in the unbroken half of the square and the other people are having a hard time recovering, you might want to quietly tell the other people what formation you’re in, and where the boys and girls are. For example, “Psst! Make a right-hand wave with boys on the end!”

Caller Directed Square Recovery

Often, a caller will notice something’s not right in one or more squares, and will cue the dancers so they know what formation they should be in. For example: “You’re got right-hand waves, boys on the end…” or “Centers, who are facing”. In such cases, if you’re lost, and the caller cues you to what formation you should be in, just get into that formation, whether or not you’re in the correct place for successful resolution.

Those are the basic methods for resolving broken squares, and require a fairly minimal amount of practice. However, these methods just keep the squares moving … you still have to scurry back into the correct place at the end of the sequence. How do you actually FIX the square mid-sequence? Let’s move onto some more advanced methods and find out.

“Don’t Cry Over Broken Squares … Fix Them! Part 1” by Allan Hurst reprinted from the May 2004 issue of Times Squared

This is a great four part article about fixing broken down squares. Maybe we can implement more them in our dancing.

It’s one of the ultimate cultural taboos in square dancing: don’t talk about broken-down squares. It doesn’t matter if you’re a caller or a dancer; there seems to be some unwritten rule that it’s bad manners to discuss how squares break down and how to fix them. If you’re a dancer … have you ever watched another square on the dance floor break down, and saw them recover, and then wonder how they did it? This article gives dancers some basic tools to use in recovering a crashed square. Although this article is targeted at dancers, caller may want to consider teaching or reviewing some of these techniques.

In the real world, all squares break down sooner or later. (if you’re a dancer whose squares never break down, you probably only dance with 7 phantoms.) Perhaps you’re new to dancing a given level and haven’t yet developed confidence. Perhaps there are a few “nightmare calls” that you just aren’t get the hang of yet. In any event, for whatever reason, broken squares always happen, at every dance, at every class, and at every level.

In general, some of those concepts aren’t taught until Advanced or higher levels, because some dancers may rely on these tolls more than learning the dance level. Please keep in mind, these tools are intended for use by dancers only in conjunction with already knowing their current dance level well. If dancers don’t know their calls, none of these recovery techniques will help.

For the purposes of discussion, let’s assume a broken square is the result of two (or more) dancers swapping places by accident in a tip in which the caller is using fairly straightforward, symmetric choreography. (Sorry, asymmetric choreo fans!)

More Than One Way to Recover

There are several techniques available for recovering a “crashed” square. We’ll go through them in approximate order of simplicity, from easiest to most complex.

Remember, the point of all of these methods is to allow the square to keep on dancing, even if a dancer has to scurry back into their correct home position at the end of the sequence.


“Thank you Betsy” by Richard Bearse from the May 1996 issue of Times Squared

After all these years, and we’re still saying “Thank you Betsy!”

Dear Editor:

I had vowed a couple of years ago to stop writing letters to the editor, after my lover almost handed my head to me on a platter for being too quick to criticize. However, this is one letter that I feel must be written, es­pecially by me.

The topic, is Betsy Gotta, and the subject is giving credit where credit is due. Having just completed her Plus class, all I can say is that she is one classy lady! All the way through the class I was constantly amazed at her de­gree of patience and great professional­ism. Not once did I see her lose her composure, or appear irritated. I’m sure many would agree that many times she would have been justified in being less patient.

Week, after week, Betsy Gotta stood up on that stage in front of a wide range of multiple personalities with varying moods and different learning abilities, and demonstrated what the word “professionalism” is all about. Ev­ery student was treated with respect. Her humor was never cruel or at some­one else’s expense. Betsy didn’t stand up on that stage to prove how good she is or to stroke her ego. She stood up there to teach. And, teach she did! The enthusiasm and mastery of the class bears testament to her talent as both a caller and a teacher.

Not once did I hear anyone say any­thing negative about Betsy, which I think is unusual in a diverse group such as ours. Reason? In my opinion there just wasn’t a reason to say anything ex­cept nice things about a great instruc­tor!

I’m sure I speak for the vast major-ity, if not all, of the Plus class when I say, thank you Betsy — you were fabu­lous — just marvelous!

-Richard Bearse

“You Know You’re Hooked When” by Guy Leighton from the October 1992 issue of Times Squares

Square dancing is not a disorder. Even though you might exhibit almost all of the symptoms below.

You Know You’re Hooked When:

You walk into a room and figure out how many squares would fit

Your wardrobe changes to boots, bolos and cowboy hats

You think “Slide-Thru” when walking through a crowd

Your calendar consists of Fly-Ins and Barn Dances

You start listening to Country and Western music

You stop thinking of “Spread” in terms of sex

You change your sex and like it (become BiDansual)

You have a collection of Fly-In tee shirts

You wear out your badge, so it won’t stay on

You’ll go to a straight dance convention (and like it!)

You know who the Honky Tonk Queen is

You start carrying a bandana and a water bottle

You can’t wait until Club Night

Thank you all so much for getting me hooked!

Yellowrox,

Guy Leighton

“Club Unity” reprinted from the May 1987 issue of Times Squared

Wait a minute . . . there were concerns about club unity when we only danced two levels?!?

In response to a letter received from a dissatisfied member, there was a discussion regarding a growing separation between club members who dance at different levels, (Mainstream/Plus), and how club unity could best be encouraged. The Board felt that the new club night format – 2 Plus tips interspersed among Mainstream tips was one way of discouraging the division. The upcoming merge of class and club could also be an appropriate time to encourage “lapsed” members to return to active membership.

“Club Shirts” reprinted from the December 1987 issue of Times Squared

Be grateful for the club shirts that we have.

Carl Bleiweiss presented to the board a few examples of possible club shirts which he had designed. He suggested that the club could purchase white tux shirts and suspenders and have club volunteer sew on fringe and appliques. A rough sketch of the proposed shirt is seen below. If you have any comments or suggestions please speak with Carl about them.