Mel Wilkerson Notes on Lefty

November 7, 2015

Written by Mel Wilkerson for the Newbie Callers or Callers In Training Facebook group.

Food for thought

This post is intended to generate discussion and encourage callers/teachers to look at their programs, use them but not abuse them so that the dancers can win. It is all about them remember, not all about us as callers.

Using Choreography to its fullest without abusing it seems to be a popular topic on many of the caller pages. Unfortunately (to my way of thinking) a great amount of it deals with “how to improve your plus, Advanced etc” or Challenging the definitions to the breaking point were even experienced callers cannot agree fully on whether or not it is “technically legal” or even viable.

I looked at some of this “improve choreography” across a number of sites and bravo callers, there are many fantastic concept and variations of solid movement through all the levels. Cudos as well for publishing them as thought pieces.

What I found most refreshing, particularly from the European and from youth sites was the theme that the way to improve your plus, advanced, etc was to know your mainstream and basics because, 90 percent or more of the higher levels is just a combination of basic or mainstream movements stuck together.

This became particularly in one “improve your basic” workshop choreography where the modules were (from facing lines and inverted lines-centres facing out) – challenging basic level choreography by having and I quote

“Ends circulate three times but and face in while the centres pass thru, face out, touch hands, partner trade and pass thru.”

Yep that pretty much sums up, - yes these are basic movements but practically all who call above mainstream will quickly recognise what that figure is (even though the first part with the circulates is modified.

The question I ask is, it breaking down a plus movement to basic and mainstream movements and calling them at that level, really doing the dancers any favours.

Wouldn’t it be better to teach the dancers basic and mainstream fully, (such as ½ sashayed partner trades - << and yes I know there is no such thing as a ½ sashayed partner trade but I reference it here for the obvious reason>> and then use the material so the dancers are comfortable dancing and aware of the position, formation, partnering etc….

I think that would make moving up the levels a lot less of a ½ dancer rush to learn basic and mainstream at the plus level.

With that in mind, I stumbled across this from Joe Griffith on a web site belonging to Judy Obee. She has Joe’s permission to use it and me, well I blatantly stole it to put here – but I do not think Judy or Joe will mind. It is good stuff to think about.

From Judy’s Page:

The following choreography is from a presentation that Calgary caller Joe Griffith gave to the Calgary Callers Association on January 14, 2001. He has given me permission to publish it on my web-site, for which I am grateful.

Reminder: A "Swing Thru" always starts with the Right Hands (and a "Left Swing Thru" always starts with the Left Hands). The significance of this reminder is that in the choreography that follows, many times the Centers will start the Swing Thru. So, do NOT assume that I have transcribed it incorrectly!

• Zero Line - Right and Left Thru, Dixie Style to a Wave, SWING THRU TWICE, Girls Run, Girls Trade, Bend the Line, - Zero Line

• Zero Line - Right and Left Thru, Dixie Style to a Wave, SWING THRU, Girls Run, Bend the Line, - Zero Line

• Zero Box, - Touch ¼, SWING THRU TWICE , Boys Run, Reverse the Flutter, Dixie Style to a Wave, Centers Trade, Left Swing Thru, Left Single Hinge, SWING THRU, Centers Trade, Girls Run, Dixie Style to a Wave, SWING THRU, Girls Circulate, Girls Run, Promenade home

• Heads Square Thru 4 - Step to a Wave (RH wave), LEFT SWING THRU, Boys Run, Wheel & Deal(Note: Personally I would use a ferris wheel and pass thru here rather than the wheel and deal), Step to a Wave , LEFT SWING THRU, Boys Run, Wheel & Deal, Allemande Left

• Heads Pass Thru – Separate Around 1 to a Line, Pass the Ocean, LEFT SWING THRU, Boys Trade, Star Thru, Trade By, Allemande Left

• Heads Square Thru 4 - Split 2, Around 1 to a Line, Pass the Ocean, Centers Trade, Swing Thru, Boys Circulate, Swing Thru, Girls Circulate, Boys Run, Wheel & Deal, Allemande Left

• Heads Lead Right, Touch ¼, LEFT SWING THRU, Ends Circulate, Centers Trade, Swing Thru, Boys Run, Star Thru, Pass Thru, Trade By, Allemande Left The problem most of the time is that you only see material used like this when the caller/teacher is:

  1. Initially teaching and workshopping the movement
  • Mixing left and right hand gimmicky stuff to challenge the dancers in those rare “look how good I am” caller moments.
    1. The caller/teacher is re-teaching basic to plus dancers so that they are aware of the movement being able to be done in more than one way and from more than one position.

    Mix and match these things through your calling repertoire. It is not bending the definitions to the breaking point or conceptually breaking apart higher movements and teaching them at lower levels to “prepare the dancers to move up”. It is teaching them the movement and giving them the dance they paid for, and teaching them to dance so they do not have to relearn.

    Category: Mel Wilkerson