Mel Wilkerson Notes on Surprise Get-Outs

November 5, 2015

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

Feeding the wild animals - Why the big surprise – because you put it there

New callers are always looking for the “go”, or the big surprise. Unfortunately, the way that the “Master Callers” (you know what I mean), find that surprise allemande or right and left grand seems miraculous. They often seem as excited as the dancer that it was there. Well there are usually two parts to that.

  1. They know it is there because they put it there, usually from a quick recognition of a formation on the floor, or they set up a known (module) get out that flows well.
  • The excitement building to the surprise is showmanship and presentation to feed the floor
  • What you have to remember is that it took the “masters”, years of practice and training and more practice followed by many hours of practice with training and when that was all done, a few years of practice before they became the natural masters.

    After listening to many of them, I noticed (because I often analyse calls, flows and sequences when I am dancing or listening) that this magic allemande left or surprise right and left grand was usually a sequenced module in a theme of modules (usually related to a focus move in the tip) dropped in with confidence because they already knew where they were and that the surprise worked.

    The key was generally that the “surprise get out” was a set up ( or a lucky stumble across a known position (like a zero box or zero line). Follow the logic below:

    1. The caller sees or sets up the known formation
    2. The caller chooses a memorized get out sequence from his/her repertoire
    3. The caller builds the excitement and surprise with his voice to build up the dancers

    Step three is important because that is where all the work is. The caller knows the formation so doesn’t have to think about it, and knows the get out works so doesn’t have to think about it. The concentration and effort is all into the showmanship.

    Important: 1. do not make these surprises get outs too long or too complex. You want them short and simple so that they can be dropped in quickly 2. Do not abuse them or use them so much they become expected.

    Remember what I said about building the excitement to feed the floor. You want your dancing to be a free and flowing animal that is beautiful to watch…but like any animal, if you over feed it gets either lazy or cranky and wants to be left alone…sate the hunger but have them leave the table wanting to come back for another feed.

    Here are some simple examples of short sequences to a Right and left grand from a known formation

    From a Zero Box

    1. Right & Left Thru, Half Sashay, Pass Thru, Right and left grand
  • Swing Thru, Girls circulate, Boys trade, Right and left grand
    1. Veer to the Left, Girls Trade, Boys Fold, Pass Thru, Right and Left Grand
  • Swing Thru, recycle, Left Square thru 3/4, Right and Left Grand.
  • From a Zero line 1. Square Thru 4, Everybody U Turn Back, Right and left grand

    1. Pass the Ocean, split circulate twice, right and left grand
  • Pass the Ocean, Centers Trade, Swing Thru, RLG
    1. Pass Thru, U-Turn Back, Pass the Ocean (boys in the middle), right and left grand.

    The short snappy ones (there are hundreds so do not try to learn them all at once) are usually the best. The reason is that they are short enough not to interfere with the flow of a focus move (unless you are lucky enough to have that move in your prepared get out, and they are easy to remember rather than long complex sequences.

    For example if we look at the last right and left grand surprise from a zero line above, it is quick and easy to remember – three moves to a RLG.

    • I can get to the same place being complex and tricky with a module as follows:

    (replace pass thru, u-turn back with Pass Thru, Girls Run, Centres Trade, Left Swing Thru, Split Circulate twice, Boys Run,

    • And still end with Pass The Ocean, Right and left grand

    Personally, if my focus for the tip was a ½ sashayed pass the ocean I would rather use 3 moves (Pass Thru, U-Turn Back, Pass the Ocean, right and left grand for a quick surprise get out. That way I can focus on the choreography and using the movement in the patter while I am moving the dancers and when I am ready I get to the zero line for the snap resolve.

    If my get out module was the 8 move Pass Thru, Girls Run, Centres Trade, Left Swing Thru, Split Circulate, split circulate, Boys Run, pass the ocean, right and left grand, then I am worrying about the flow in the choreography while dancing the focus movement, then I am worried about 8 8 consecutive moves to get to my surprise snap resolve. I am not saying do not use it, but wait a long time until you have a lot of little short “get outs” committed to memory before you start trying to remember long module sequences.

    Category: Mel Wilkerson