Mel Wilkerson Notes on Sight Calling Focus Module

October 31, 2016

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

Information Post....Another in the series as requested.


The title of this article is specifically and intentionally a self-contradicting oxy-moron.

How can it be sight calling if it is about modules. Simple. Modules are part of sight calling. If you consider, every memorised piece of chorography that takes you from one known position through to another known (or the same) position is a module. From that perspective:

• Everything that callers do with choreography is modular based. Every single movement takes us from one known position to another known position. Every single singing call we use takes from one known position to another known position.

• Every time we use a filler break (a short sequence that really does nothing but give the caller time to gather his/her thoughts) that is a module.

• Every time a caller intentionally uses a known sequence or a movement that changes a formation for example from a box to a line or vice versa that is a module.

Modules are part of sight calling but they are not what sight calling is all about. Knowing what a movement does and stringing a bunch of them together so that they are danceable without having a fixed end point is sight calling. The caller moves dancers around in this seemingly random series of movements to let the dancers interact with each other in a smooth flowing pattern. Periodically the caller will move the dancers into a specific formation to highlight a specific call (the focus movement) and then back out again.

So if this is sight calling why do we need modules?

Well, simply put, modules are a caller’s tool in which a prepared short sequence of choreography is memorised to take the caller from a known point to a known point. It allows a caller to set up a specific formation to use a specific movement in a specific way to achieve a specific goal.

Using modules also allows both variety and control to callers using new material (especially extended choreography) allowing him/her to focus on the dancers and identify any specific issues. The choreographic sequence (the module) is known and proven to work so now the caller can focus attention on the dancers. This gives the caller a strong sense of control by knowing that the combinations resolve from a known formation to a known formation.

Previously, many callers did entire dances by module calling. Fantastic memories in the old days but in reality, many of the modules were just like memorizing a song. As calling developed and became more free-style, so too did modules.

Instead of dances they became short tools for use to achieve a specific purpose. In time, modules developed to become used for a myriad of things in square dancing but generally they fall into one of several categories.

  1. SET UP MODULES – often referred to as “get ins”. These modules take the dancers from a static square position to another known position. They set up the sequence of dancing to follow.
  • ZERO MODULES. These are often referred to as do nothing modules. They are used most often for two specific purposes:
  • • To move the dancers from one position back to the same position and feature a specific movement; or • To give the caller a danceable sequence where he/she can call the module and simultaneously gather his/her thoughts or identify who is where and with whom while getting ready to resolve.

    1. TRANSITION MODULES. These modules are specifically designed to take the dancers from one known formation to a different known formation. For example from a zero line to a zero box formation. Like Zero modules, they can also feature a specific focus call or may simply be a relaxing sequence of choreography to put the dancers into a known position to do something else.
  • EQUIVALENT MODULES. These modules are essentially “INSTEAD OF” movements or sequences to achieve the same goal. They are used most often in teaching or sequence timing. Equivalent modules/movements allow callers to substitute different movements in the place of other movements to use more time, use less time, replace movements that are unknown to the dancers with ones that they do know, or to give additional variety to similar sequences around a focus movement.
    1. RESOLUTION MODULES. These are often called “get outs” or “resolve from” modules. These modules take the dancers from a known position to a resolution movement, such as allemande left, right and left grand, or home.

    Modules are one very useful and very powerful choreographic tool for sight callers. As has been noted before in other articles every singing call you know is a module, and when you explore it closer, possibly up to 8 different modules.

    The focus of this article is however the creation of a focus module.

    Although there are many processes for modules, my recommendation is that you write your own but follow a few short guidelines. For me, I like to start with my singing call.

    1. Rule number 1 – keep them short. (They are easier to remember that way, or easier to read if you have a quick cue sheet on the table for a refreshing glance)
  • Choose the movement(s) you want to highlight. (for this example I chose two movements: ½ tag the line and Split Circulate)
    1. Select or write your singing call first using your feature movement(s) from the position and formation you wish to use it from. I like to use only one or two singing call figures only but some callers like to use more. For this example I used very similar singing call figures but changed the opening sequence with an equivalent to make it seem like two very different figures.

    • Heads Square Thru, Dosado, Swing Thru, Boys Trade, Boys Run, ½ tag, Scoot Back, Split Circulate, Swing & Promenade

    • Heads Promenade 1/2, Pass The Ocean, Extend, Girls Trade, Swing Thru, Boys Run Right, ½ tag, Split Circulate, Scoot Back, Swing & Promenade

    1. Now that you have your singing call figure (or figures), create some modules to use that highlight the movements you wish to use as a focus. You should have at least 3:

    • A zero module for boxes

    • A zero module for lines

    • A zero line or a zero box get out.

    Note 1: as you get more experience you will begin writing more and more modules from a myriad of different positions.

    Note 2: I recommend you begin by writing zero box modules and zero line modules because they can plug into any box or any line.

    Module 1 – Zero line to Zero line: Pass Thru, ½ tag, Swing Thru, Split Circulate, Boys Run (ZL)

    Module 2 – Zero box to zero box: Veer Left, Couples Circulate, ½ tag, Centers Circulate Twice, Split Circulate Once, Men Run, Circle Left ¾. (ZB)

    Module 3 – Zero line resolution to right and left Grand : Pass Thru, ½ Tag, Swing Thru twice, Split Circulate, R.L.G

    1. Now you can call your tip. You sight call your movements to get to a box or zero box…use your module and then resolve. You can use your resolution module at any zero line

    • You will sight call using split circulate • You will sight call using ½ tag • You will then sight call using both movements • You can plug your modules into any box or line • You can resolve using a module get out or sight resolution get out.

    1. You can now call your singing call knowing that they can do both of your focus movements from the positions that you want them to dance them from.

    If you have the time, energy and inclination. Create a few spare modules as well

    • Zero line to a Right and left grand: Square Thru 3, ½ tag, Split Circulate, Girls Trade, Swing Thru, R.L.G

    • Zero Box to a right and left Grand: Veer Left, ½ tag. girls run, Square Thru 4, R.L.G

    • Zero Box to a Zero Box (technical zero): Veer Left, Couples Circulate Twice, ½ Tag, Split Circulate, boys Run, Reverse Flutter Wheel, Slide Thru (ZB)

    • Zero line to a Zero line: Pass thru, partner trade, right and left thru ** Veer Left,1/2 Tag, Cast Off 3/4, Right & Left Thru, Pass Thru, Bend The Line (ZL) ** Note: The pass thru, partner trade, right and left thru at the beginning of this module is to set up flow for a facing line veer left. It gives the dancers time to breath out and adjust for the tightness of the formation. Do not call veer left from facing lines without a breathing flow to expand the dancers.

    I like to keep a file folder of created modules, zero modules, and such. I also highlight and catalogue them for the movements I am focussed on. It is a good way of building your tool box and expanding your repertoire as a caller. You will also see that I make notes on my modules (such as the last one) related to any specific choreographic points I need to pay attention to. I usually put this in a different colour with asterix ** and italics to draw my attention to it.

    Well that is it. That is my simple blurb on sight calling - making and using focus modules. As always, comments are welcome. Keep smiling and have fun.

    Category: Mel Wilkerson