Cowboy Dances

A collection of Traditional Western Square Dances By Lloyd Shaw

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40
COWBOY DANCES
two notes. He must not be self-conscious about the special note or its technical name, but he must make sure that the note he uses is in harmony with his orchestra at all times.
He, of course, must be thoroughly familiar with the calls before the dance begins. If it is all new to him it means not only preliminary study, but he will probably have to get a few friends together beforehand and move them around and work it all out until everything is perfectly clear to him and practiced enough to be running smoothly. Our caller must have an infallible sense of rhythm, not only of the fiddle, but instinctively timing his phrases with the four- or eight-bar units that the music itself is built on. This must be instinctive, for with different groups on the floor, some fast and some slow, he never calls his dance twice alike. If he ever fails in the rhythm of his phrasing, the dancers find the dance no fun at all, even though they may not be able to analyze the source of the trouble.
This means that the caller often has to start his call phrase on the weak part of a musical phrase. If both his call and the musical phrase are built to the count of eight, it would be theoretically best for them to start together on the count of "one." But if the dancers get behind, the "one" of the call may have to fall on the "five" of the music, starting this on the second half of the musical phrase. Take, for example, the call "Two gents swing with the elbow swing" on page 172 and count it out on the four fingers of your left hand. You will find you have counted through your four fingers exactly four times. But now put a set of dancers before you and try it, and you will find they simply can't keep up with that mechanical perfection of four sets of four counts. They have too far to go around each other, too much floor to cover. Now you will have to introduce waits (two counts each time, since one beat of wait would throw the next phrase out of step). Perhaps it would count something like this :
Two gents swing with the elbow swing
(Wait, wait)
Opposite partners elbows swing
Now two gents with the same old thing
(Wait, wait)
Now your partners elbows swing.
Our caller must also possess an unerring geometric






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