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24 American Square Dances
lack of interest or spirit on your part will come right over the microphone and the dancers will react to it.
Be yourself! Do not copy someone else, his style, inflections, or mannerisms. You will only be a blurred carbon copy. You can learn from every caller you hear, either better technique or what not to do. Often the fault you find in another's calling is the same fault that you have. Yours may be the greater error. Profit by your observations.
If you want attention, lower your voice, do not raise it. Then they must listen to you.
And, first, last, and always, have fun!
There is no such thing as a poor call (unless it is overlong), but there is poor calling. Give the proper timing and just the exact amount required for the figure. "Walk" your sets through the figure first, without the music, making certain that all understand what they are to dance, then call the dance to music at full tempo, keeping the proper timing and phrasing. The dancers may miss the figure here and there in the first two or even three "changes," but should be dancing easily on the final change. If so, you need never teach that figure to those dancers again. They have mastered it by dancing, not through drilling.
One of the most common mistakes a caller makes is to time his calls by one set on the floor. The call should be timed to the music. Watch your entire floor as a whole, gauging the response by the over-all pattern and movement. It takes practice and training for the eye to encompass the floor as a whole, to recognize by the general movement whether all are dancing together or not. You will find your eyes and attention centered on the set directly in front of you. If you do not correct this natural inclination you might as well have just one set on the floor as far as your calling goes, and your calling will be no better than the dancing of the set you are watching. The most skilled dancers make mistakes constantly. If you watch only one set, every mistake the dancers make in timing and execution will be passed on to the rest of the dancers by your call.