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Terms and Definitions

(Gratefully borrowed from our dance partners at Dudes and Dolls without explicit permission. Thanks, friends!)

Square dancing can seem very complicated especially to a beginner who is hearing things like "tip" and "caller". We'd like to make things easier for you by defining these terms to get you up-to-speed more quickly.

Caller - A person who "calls" the square dance by speaking, or singing, out a dance maneuver which the dancers then execute.

Cuer - A person who cues a round dance by speaking out a dance maneuver which the dancers then execute. The cuer does not sing out calls like a square dance caller might. In round dancing, they are as unobtrusive as possible.

Couple (Head) - Two couples - one couple faces away from the stage (referred to as couple number 1) and faces the second head couple (referred to as couple number 3) a few feet away. Head couples are always in-line with the stage with couple number 3 facing the stage and couple number 1 with their backs to the stage.

Couple (Side) - One couple on the left and right of the head couples. The couple on the right of head couple 1 is known as couple number 2. The couple to the left of couple number 1 is known as couple number 4. Side couples face each other in the same manner as the head couples.

Tip - A set of two Mainstream square dances usually starting with a Patter Call followed by a Singing Call.

Plus Tip - A set of two Plus square dances usually starting with a Patter Call followed by a Singing Call.

Square - A configuration of 4 couples. The couples are designated "Heads" and "Sides". The heads are called such because they are in line with the stage. One head couple (known as couple 1) is in line with the stage but facing away. The other head couple (known as couple 3) faces couple 1 (and the stage). The side couples (known as couples 2 and 4) face each other and are to the right or left of the head couple.

Patter Call - Patter calls, also known as hash calls, are based on a quick succession of spoken or sing-song delivered dance maneuvers usually accompanied by music that it is not necessarily recognizable as a song. Choreography may appear "on-the-fly" with calls randomly strung together. Most patter calling is improvised by the caller as the dancers are moving. The primary purpose of patter calls is to give dancers a challenge by surprising them with unexpected choreography.

Singing Call - Singing calls are based on a sung delivery of calls, most often to a recognizable melody, and square dance calls are mixed in with the song's original lyrics. Many widely recognized songs have been turned into singing calls. The primary purpose of singing calls is to relax, dance well together as a group, and enjoy the song and the caller's performance.

Mainstream Square Dancing The most common square dance program consisting of 68 calls (or dance maneuvers). Mainstream includes Basic square dance calls.

Plus Square Dancing A square dance program consisting of Mainstream program plus 31 additional calls. You must first learn mainstream square dancing before learning the plus program.

Square Dancing Programs - Dancers have different degrees of interest.  To accommodate these varying interests, CALLERLAB, the International Association of Square Dance Callers, has adopted several Programs of dancing.  These programs are recognized throughout the world as the standard.  Because of standardization, dancers are able to go anywhere and be assured of being able to dance the program(s) they have learned.  Each program is defined by the list of calls and concepts that dancers can expect to encounter at a dance. All of the official lists and much more can be found at this link.

     Basic (Part A - 30 calls)
     Basic (Part B - 21 additional calls for a total of 51 calls)
     Mainstream (17 additional calls for a total of 68 calls)
     Plus (31 additional calls for a total of 100 calls)
     Advanced 1 (A-1) (46 additional calls for a total of 146 calls)
     Advanced 2 (A-2) (35 additional calls for a total of 181 calls)
     Challenge 1 (C1) (79 additional calls for a total of 260 calls)
     Challenge 2(C2) (86 additional calls for a total of 346 calls)
     Challenge 3A (C3A) (83 additional calls for a total of 429 calls)
     Challenge 4(C4) (A C4 dancer typically knows about a 1000 calls)
     Challenge 5(C5) ("Hard" C4 level dancing is sometimes informally called C5)

Hot Hash - A patter call where the tempo of the calling is done at a fast pace and the dancers are able to flow from one move to another without pauses.

 

 

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