American Square Dances of The West
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22
American Square Dances
tune used for that particular dance or call. "Nellie Gray," "Red River Valley," "Pop Goes the Weasel" are among hundreds of them.
The "Western" call is a combination of all four of these types. Often only a prompt is given before the figure, with silence for the caller while the movement is being danced. Often a cease­less rapid-fire patter is called, sometimes in double time, while the figure is underway. More often the commands, fill-ins, and directions are chanted, and often, the caller sings part of the call; particularly when the tune used has a prominent and marked melodic line. Whatever the type used, four points are observed —key, time, rhythm, and phrasing.
Ed Durlacher is fond of saying that every caller should have as his theme song, and sing before every call, the popular song, "You Gotta Ac-cen-tu-ate the Positive." The words which tell the dancers what to do and when and how must be given at the proper time, never more than two measures ahead of the time of execution. Often the commands are given with no "lead," but as the movement is being danced, which is made necessary by either the required wording of the call or by the fact that dancers react to certain calls as commands, such as "Allemande," "Swing," "Sashay," "Forward," and "Balance," and will execute these calls as they are given. While the dancers should not anticipate a call, they do and should know the pattern of the dance and its routine and are ready for the calls when given.
A feature of the Western dance is that practically every basic movement has an identifying and distinguishing "patter" before the call, usually rhyming with the call of that particular move­ment. Western callers use these traditional phrases in a uniform manner. When you hear a Western caller say, "Form a ring, make it go," you know that he will follow that phrase with a call for a Do-si-do, such as, "Break that ring with a Do-si-do." If he should say, "Form a ring, a pretty little ring," you could be certain that the next call would be, "Break that ring with a Corner swing."






E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III