Square Dance Club
Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Styling Tips for Better Dancers

by Dick Waibel


  • DANCE STEP - Shuffle your feet. Put your weight on the ball of your foot, lift your heel off the floor and take short, smooth gliding steps. Lifting your entire foot tires you more rapidly and breaks the dance rhythm.

  • MUSIC - Be a dancer, not a walker! Listen to the music, pick out the beat and take a shuffle step with each beat of music. Walking a call instead of dancing a call does not look good, throws your timing off, affects the timing of the entire square, and results in an uncomfortable dance feeling.

  • POSTURE - Stand erect and tall with your shoulders back and knees slightly bent. BE A PROUD DANCER. Do not lean forward when dancing - this does not look good and will tire a person quickly. Keep a loose relaxed feeling and enjoy the music and calls.

  • TIGHT SQUARES - Keep your squares tight, do not spread out. When dancers form large squares they will be slow in executing the calls. The reason is, they are forcing themselves to cover much more ground. When the squares are small, you have ample time to do the calls

  • BELIEVE THE CALLER - No matter what the Caller calls, DO IT!!! Often dancers will stop if the Caller tells them to do something and they do not know why he told them to do it. This results in a needless breakdown of the square. Donít worry about the Ďwhyí - do as the Caller says. It is the Callerís responsibility to guide you through a call.

  • DONíT RUSH A CALL - Donít rush through the calls! Sometimes dancers seem worried they will not make it through a call and they rush, push and jerk. This disturbs others, can hurt a person and many times causes the square to break down. Just relax, move to the beat of the music and enjoy the call.

  • UNDERSTAND THE DEFINITION - In learning a call, try to understand the definition of the call rather than just memorizing a position. If you understand the definition, you will be able to do the call from any position. Be sure you have your own personal dictionary of square dance terms and use it.

  • ASK THE CALLER - After a call is taught and if you are not sure of the correct definition, ask the Caller to explain it again without using the terms "boys" and "girlís.

  • ARM RESISTANCE - Any time you use your arm to execute a call (e.g.. Allemande Left, Star Thru, Swing Thru, Touch ľ, Turn Thru, etc.), offer resistance with the arm you are using, stiffening it slightly. This smoothes out the move and enables you to exercise control of the call. DO NOT have limp spaghetti arms. This causes you to lose your positioning and result in the square executing the command incorrectly and/or breaking down.

  • GENTLEMEN - The man is always responsible for guiding the ladies to start a call correctly. Men should always be gentle with the ladies when holding their hands, turning them or guiding them in the proper direction. Be firm, BUT NOT ROUGH! Too much show of strength on the part of the man can be painful to the ladies. MEN, always make an effort to be gentle (the ladies do not care how strong you are!).

  • JOINING HANDS - At the completion of any call, you should immediately join hands with the dancer or dancers standing next to you. This helps you to see the formation you are in (e.g., Lines, Waves, etc.) and aids you in doing the next call. Hands should always be joined within one-half second after the completion of any call. Failure to join hands often results in sloppy lines or waves, confusion on where you are, which in turn, causes the square to break down.

  • IDENTIFY YOUR POSITION - Always be aware of the position you are in before you start a call and right after you complete the execution of a call (e.g., are you an end, center, couple, boy, girl, etc.). This aids you in performing the next call correctly.

  • SKIRT WORK - Ladies, hold your skirt in your free hand about waist high and use a very slightly rhythmical flourish to move the skirt in front and back. Your right hand moves with your left foot, and your left hand moves with your right foot.

  • COURTESY ON THE FLOOR - Please DO NOT talk while the Caller is explaining something to the dancers. You may not need help but others may and you donít help the Caller or the square by distracting people. If a Caller is walking the dancers through a call, DO NOT get ahead of the Callerís prompting even if you know what is going on. It is not smart! It is inconsiderate of your fellow dancers who want to learn what is being taught. If you deprive your fellow dancers of a good understanding of the call and they break down later, you will be standing right along with them.

  • DANCE TO OTHER CALLERS - Dance to as many different Callers as you can. This is one of the best ways to sharpen your dancing skills. Your Caller may advise you against going to a particular dance because the level of material will be too high for you. This is all right and you should follow the advice. However, if your Caller advises against visiting ANY clubs or ANY dances, then do not follow this advice.



Gary McClure,