Mel Wilkerson 2017-01 Caller Education Weekend recap

February 15, 2017 Written by Mel Wilkerson for the Newbie Callers or Callers In Training Facebook group

As requested, I was asked post an outcome of the caller education weekend held in Corrimal, NSW - Australia at the end of January 2017. This outcomes report can also be downloaded in word format for those that wish to copy and expand on the New Caller developed/discovered Choreography.

The caller education weekend was developed as a two-fold purpose workshop.

  1. For newer callers, or experienced callers wanting to improve their skills
  • For experienced callers training new callers to develop a mentoring process.
  • Unlike previous workshops, this full weekend was dedicated to one singular topic. That topic was formation management. The structure was designed to, first explain to the new caller, and second instruct the mentor on how to provide this knowledge, on formation management from the movement mechanics, through to the development of a patter call and finally ending with the culmination of a singing call that ties the entire thing together. Simply put, the structure was as follows:

    The movement mechanics

    The use of the movement as a bracket focus

    Simplified sight calling (2 couple, four couple, interactives and cross over mechanics)

    Developing modules to highlight the focus movement

    Rewarding the dancers with a singing call figure that uses the movement. The above subject usually ranges from about a 1 hour discussion topic to a morning or afternoon at caller weekend seminars. However, upon request from Barry Wonson, who was at the time, the SARDA NSW Caller Education Coordinator, it was decided to change the format from “feeding with a firehose” format to a more topic concentrated format of building the foundations of calling, and caller teaching.

    Overall, the new format was extremely well received and the noticeable difference in the callers (especially the new terrified ones – but even in the old experienced hands) was remarkable and positive.

    This was even more emphasized at the evening dance which brought in 9 squares of dancers ranging from Mainstream through challenge. It was not just support for new callers but the discovery with joy ,surprise and vocal comment at how far these new callers have developed and how good they are becoming. This was from the dancers that found the evening entertaining, challenging and most of all just plain fun.

    Although there was not enough time to get all the 22 attending callers up for the evening dance, the random selection of 5 new callers to take the stage in the evening was representational of how well all the callers in the workshop progressed.

    There were two things that were noted in my opinion that are worth mention.

    1. On day one in the first session I asked the question, what is”the number one cause of fear, anxiety, panic and stress to you as a caller. All of the callers except for Gary Carpenter, Allan Kerr and Barry Wonson said without hesitation “resolving the square – getting them all home correctly (Note: Barry, Gary and Allen all said “getting out of bed in the Morning”)

    By the afternoon of the first day, resolving the square was the second most stressful thing, I said; “think of what you will know tomorrow”.

    At the end of the morning session on Sunday I again asked what causes you stress in calling, comments were:

    • Picking the right music
    • Getting mic time
    • Teaching new dancers to dance to the music (speed up)
    • Administration (halls, costs, taxes etc)
    • For Barry, Gary and Allan it was still getting out of bed in the morning
    • And there were a few other items listed

    Strangely enough, not one caller said, resolving the square and getting them home and even after I asked what about resolving the square, it was met with “maybe but not really”. THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU WILL KNOW TOMORROW – especially when all the stress is gone.

    At that time the two basic resolution techniques (from a two face line and from a Box) had been proven by each caller and used repeatedly and all had accepted that no matter where in the square the dancers were, they could always resolve – this allowed them to branch out with their choreography and just concentrate on moving the dancers with a focus. Resolution was only on the priority when you were ready. As one caller said – “This damn S@#& works”.

    1. The second thing that stood out in my mind was a new caller, “Graeme” who was the only male caller amongst the 5 chosen to perform at the evening dance. Graeme had what many callers refer to as: THE TIP FROM HELL.

    His pilot square broke down after the first three figures (but he kept going)

    He forgot his resolution technique (but he kept going and even sighted out to home three times

    He forgot to set his focus movement for the evening bracket – but he chose after he started calling (but he kept going)

    The music volume started skipping on the third figure, going up and down (but he kept going)

    The equipment failed ¾ of the way through his singing call (but he kept going and finished the last half of the fourth figure and the closer entirely without music) The entire floor was upbeat, smiling and laughing and proud of him and for him knowing that less than a month ago, it would have flustered him so bad. Today, I know many very experienced callers that could have pulled that off successfully and still kept the floor upbeat, happy, and enjoying the show. (well done Graeme)

    As I said, the entire weekend was what would normally be a 1 hour discussion or a morning/afternoon session. We could however take another full week and still not cover all of that topic, but at least I am confident that the basic foundation tools and how to use them are with each new caller and caller mentor, and they know how to use them. Step 8 – now it is Practice, practice, practice and more practice. Well done everyone.

    Workshop Choreography.

    Several interesting pieces of Choreography came out during the sessions at the school. I am presenting some of them here for added value to the attendees of the workshop. The reason for this is twofold.

    1. Although much of it was developed in trying to understand isolated sight and developing Zeroes from those exercises, it has to be noted that much of the choreography was at a level considered much higher than that of many experienced callers. This is material that may not be new to calling but it is important because it is new to them and discovered by them in the learning process.
    1. You know that when callers like Allan Kerr, Barry Wonson, and myself sit up from until 2 in the morning trying to remember highlights and routines that struck us as “gold” it was worth it. Every caller regardless of experience has value added in the fact that they see choreography a little differently

    Be proud of what you accomplished and know that:

    I am not sharing this choreography with you. I am stealing if from you. It is that good.

    Choreography developed or discovered by the new callers:

    During the Weekend Caller Education workshop, many interesting ideas developed. A few have been expanded or better formatted (e.g the singing calls, but all came from ideas developed, or sometimes stumbled across by the new callers behind the microphone during the daytime training and education session exercises. There were some very interesting choreographic ideas emerging as they began to push their perceived limits.

    Choreography and extemporaneous sight calling was pushed well out of the comfortable “Safe Zone”” and once the new callers realized they can use a full but focused program with comfort, they discovered some interesting choreography. Here is a sample of some of their work. These were developed and some even used as singing calls to highlight a specific movement from a different position or set up. The new caller focus movement is in Bold


    • Swing Thru, Recycle, Pass The Ocean, Spin The Top, Recycle

    * Swing Thru, Recycle, Make A Wave, Centres Trade, Recycle, Pass Thru, U-Turn Back * Swing Thru, Recycle, Dosado, Swing Thru, Recycle * Swing Thru, Boys Cross Run (Left), Left Swing Thru, Boys Cross Fold

    • Swing Thru, Boys Cross Run Left, Ladies Trade, Left Swing Thru, Boys Cross Run Right, Ladies Trade (Note: this was the same as above but the ladies trade was added – ends in an zero box ocean wave (ZW))
  • Swing Thru, Spin The Top, Right And Left Thru, Flutter Wheel, Sweep ¼
    • Make A Wave Ladies Trade, Spin The Top, Recycle, Pass The Ocean, Spin The Top, Recycle, Sweep ¼
  • Slide Thru, Right And Left Thu, Dixie Style To An Ocean Wave, Swing Thru (Boys Start), Girls Trade, Half Tag, Scoot Back, Face Your Partner
  • BOX ZEROS – 4 COUPLES * Touch ¼, Split Circulate, Boys Run, Pass Thru, Wheel And Deal, Pass Thru, Wheel And Deal, Centres Pass Thru, (Note: this zero rotates the square ¼ left)

    • Touch ¼, Centres Cross Run (Left) Split Circulate, Boys Cross Run (Right), Right And Left Thru - (note this zero rotates the square ¼ left)
  • Pass To The Centre, Zoom, Right And Left Thru, Pass Thru
    • Swing Thru, Boys Run, Tag The Line, Face Left, Wheel And Deal, (Note: replace wheel and deal with Ferris wheel, pass thru for better flow and interaction. If using this as a line zero, say, in your own 4, tag the line face left wheel and deal.)
  • Star Thru, Pass Thru, Tag The Line, Leaders U-Turn Back (Note this flip flops the square) – this is a good zero if you want to get to an allemande left with a short promenade (1/2) to gather your thoughts). Allan Kerr.
    • Star Thru, Pass Thru, Tag The Line, Face Out, Couples Hinge, Just The Girls Trade, Wheel And Deal, Sweep ¼ (Note: This is a technical zero in that it inverts the zero box from sides on the outside to heads on the outside, as well as flip flopping the set. It is also noted that when it was used the caller stated as couples hinge rather than just couples hinge. The “As couples” concept is advanced however couples hinge is still on the mainstream program. It is however still recommended you walk this first when using the couples hinge.. It is still a great little technical zero.

    Zero Line to Zero Line * Slide Thru, Right And Left Thru, Veer Left, Chain Down The Line. (Note: this module came up in a 2 couple isolated sight exercise in lines however, it works equally well, (if not better for boxes) - the veer left can be a little tight in a line – dancers will adjust if you give them time i.e. call it before the right and left thru is finished)

    • Pass The Ocean, Swing Thru, Boys Run, Chain Down The Line
  • Pass Thru, Boys Run, Split Circulate, Boys Run, Reverse Flutterwheel (Note: also works with two boxes (i.e. heads square thru) or if only working the centres (heads) change split circulate to box circulate)
    • Pass The Ocean, Split Circulate, Swing Thru, Boys Run, Reverse Flutterwheel, (Note: this module rotates the square one position right)
  • Touch 1/4, all 8 circulate twice, cast off ¾, right and left thru, pass thru, bend the line (Note: This rotates the set ¼. It is also noted that after the cast off ¾ from the column, the right and left thru was a bit awkward for dancers that do not know to readily establish the long ocean wave. A hint or clue may be required here the first time you use it…such as cast of 3/4 , in your own wave, right and left thru)
    • Touch ¼, Split Circulate, Scoot Back, Walk And Dodge, Partner Trade, Right And Left Thru, Slide Thru. (This was done in an isolated sight routine from a line position; however it works equally well as a box zero. I think this may have been known to the caller beforehand).

    A couple of singing call figures were also developed from choreography put forward by the new callers. These came from little sequences used in the exercise and were developed a little further with minor changes like slide thru, rather than star thru for hand and body flow, or minor timing adjustment by equivalent move(s) replacement.

    • Heads Touch ¼, Boys Run, Slide Thru, R&L Thru, Dixie Style To An Ocean Wave, (Boys Start) Swing Thru, Girls Trade, Left Spin Chain Thru, Girls Circulate Twice, Recycle, Pass Thru, Swing Corner At Home (no promenade)
  • 4 Ladies Chain, Heads Lead Left, Right & Left Thru, Touch 1/4, Centres Trade, Spin The Top, Just The Boys Spin The Top, All Step Thru, Swing And Promenade
    • Heads Star Thru, Pass Thru, Swing Thru, Spin The Top, Turn Thru, Tag The Line, Face In, Star Thru, Pass Thru Trade By, Eight Chain Four, Swing Corner And Promenade
  • (H) Promenade Halfway, Lead To The Right, Circle To A Line, Right And Left Thru Pass The Ocean, Swing Thru, Girls Lead Recycle, Pass Thru, Swing And Promenade (Note: although this has relatively nice body flow for a singing call, you must be careful using it because it is a right hand lady progression not a corner progression)
    • (H) Square Thru4, Swing Thru, Boys Trade, Girls Turn Back, Couples Circulate, Boys Trade, Cast Off 3/4 , Reverse Flutterwheel, Swing Corner
  • (H) Slide Thru, Square Thru 3, Left Swing Thru, Girls Run, Boys Trade, Cast Off ¾, Boy Walk Girl Dodge, Split Circulate, Swing Corner
    • (H) Lead Right, Circle Left ¾, Dosado Make A Wave, Cast Right ¾, Boys Turn Around, Make A Left Hand Wave, Centres Start – Swing Thru, Centres Circulate, Recycle, Swing Corner.
  • (h) Square Thru 4, Slide Thru, Boy Walk Girl Dodge, Centres – Girls Walk Boy Dodge, Three By One – Walk And Dodge (One Girl Walk Three People Dodge), Tag The Line, Leaders Turn Back, Swing And Promenade (note: this figure has been used before but was discovered by a new caller trying to sneak in “scoot and dodge” to the mainstream list. – it works well this way at mainstream)
  • This was submitted by James brooks after the workshop for inclusion in the sequences

    • Heads Square Thru, Do Sa Do, Swing Thru, Boys Run, Ladies Trade, Cast Off ¾, Ladies Lead Dixie Style, Boys Cross Fold Swing Corner
  • Heads Square Thru, Swing Thru, Boys Run, Ladies Trade, Cast Off ¾, Ladies Lead Dixie Style, Boys Cross Run, Hinge, Scoot Back Swing Corner
  • Category: Mel Wilkerson