European Association
of American Square Dancing Clubs e.V.

Friendship is Square Dancing's greatest reward


EAASDC-Bulletin December 2010

Square Dance Basics

Challenge in Basics
Jac & Yvonne Fransen

Reprint from Bulletin April 1995

By definition square dancing is a game of continuous challenge. Most dancers know this by heart and therefore they are mostly able to follow the mismatches of callers and their squares will not breakdown. In spite of this there are situations which will trap also these dancers. I've tried to find the reason why this frequently occurs.

My conclusion is that it is planted in the first dance-year of a dancer. Callers who don't realise that this first year is determined for development of dancers' skills will cause damage to the activity. Everyone knows that a caller by definition not always is an instructor, but too often their teaching is sloppy to say the least.

Agreed, the program for this first year is too loaded, especially for those who are a bit slow in remembrance, but with patience a good result can be achieved. Callers think of this, a good dancer will be spotted by the way he/she execute the movements he/she knows, not by the number of movements he is exposed to.

In the early lessons the combination SLIP THE CLUTCH / LEFT ALLEMANDE gets too little in dept attention and through repetitious use of this combination (as is true for the combination PASS THRU / WHEEL AND DEAL) will cause that dancers feel this as one movement. Of course the centers of a THAR STAR must "stop" in order to change direction, but little attention is given to the fact that they have to move forward thereafter. On the dance-floor one sees that they all wait for things coming their way. (note: and why are the men always in the middle??)

A caller who after a SLIP THE CLUTCH calls a different movement will surely see a breakdown of at least 3/4 of the floor. Dancers are taught that they don't have to use the same hand/arm twice in a row, but they are not taught that there are exceptions. The combination SLIP THE CLUTCH / LEFT ALLEMANDE is such an exception, because, the center-hand/arm still is occupied while the other hand/arm is in front of the body and ready for contact. The run dancers have to adjust to this phenomenon. Their inside hand/arm is also in front of their body and ready for contact.

When teaching the movement SLIP THE CLUTCH a caller must tell the dancers these facts, because a dancer does not study the special technical documentation. (except for a few die-hearts.) In the old time movement THROW IN THE CLUTCH from which SLIP THE CLUTCH derived, all this is natural, but almost lost after this movement has vanished. The definition of SLIP THE CLUTCH, however, is very clear in describing the above After the above explanations the following combination will cause no problems anymore, is it?

GO FORWARD TWO (left pull by, right hang on)
GO FORWARD TWO (right pull by, left hang on)
CAST OFF 3/4 (by the left)

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