Square Dance Caller Advice: Avoiding Overflow by Mel Wilkerson

This is a guest blog post by Mel Wilkerson.


I was asked, why don’t callers call for the ladies. The question eventually was sorted out to be a comment on a quip made regarding round dancing. That being, “God created women to dance backwards”. A relative joke in that most round dancing, ballroom dancing etc. is geared for the man to move forward the lady to move backwards and the remaining geared around the lady doing most of the work. True in dancing as in life I suppose.

Face it ladies, the reason for this is that you are generally better at dancing and adapting than we men are. You are generally quicker and more readily adapt to change than we men do. Therein lies the crux of the original question. It was a comment a dancer came to me with a comment on body flow or rather overflow.

An important point for dancers’ wellbeing is to avoid overflow. Callers need to be aware to avoid turns of more than 270° (3/4). Or they run the risk that dancers will lose their orientation. Several turns in the same direction can make some dancers dizzy. I was given some advice when I started that may be helpful for new callers.
When you check your routines for flow, follow each of the eight dancers. Sometimes only two or four of the eight dancers are affected. Watch out to avoid the so-called sequential overflow. I. e. over a longer period of time the momentum (mostly to the right) does not change.

Overflow is usually a problem for the ladies. This is primarily because most callers are men and when they write choreography and move their checkers through the flow, they tend to do it only from the man’s position.

Consider the following sequence.

From an ocean wave –

Recycle- veer left – ladies trade – wheel and deal – touch ¼ – scoot back – scoot back again – girl run – touch ¼ – —you should get the idea by now.

For the boys, this is not so bad. Dance it from the ladies (standard) position and it is time to get the dizzy chair.

Just some thoughts to stir discussion.

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