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EAASDC-Bulletin September 2011

Dance Education


by Bob Bland DeLand, Florida

Dancing by Definition - What is it ? What does it mean? These are the questions asked (along with quizzical looks) when mentioning Dancing By Definition (DBD). Quite a few people, including some callers are really not aware of what the term means. Other questions arise such as - What is the difference, if any, between All Position Dancing (APD) and Dancing by Definition?

Around 1979 CALLERLAB created a committee known as the Mainstream APD Committee. It was chaired by Jack Lasry and Frank Lane, and charged with the responsibility of exploring and researching the various positions in which Basic and Mainstream movements should be taught. On the other hand, they also determined which positions should not be taught. These committees used the input from two other committees, Formations and Definitions.

Prior to creation of the Mainstream APD Committee, and perhaps even before CALLERLAB, a number of callers had been using their own individual interpretations of the definitions, and took many liberties. This, of course, led to quite a bit of confusion when going from one club to another. But when CALLERLAB put a name to what a lot of callers were calling, All Position Dancing, folks that had been dancing for a long period of time, and not exposed to APD from class to club dancing, greatly rejected the idea. Somewhere along the line they got the idea that someone was trying to foist upon them the "Arky" style of dancing the girls part and vice-versa. And this is probably the furthest from the truth!

At the advent of the Mainstream APD Committee, it was obvious through research of the definitions that some of the Basic movements could be executed from formations other than "standard". Let's look at some examples.

Swing Thru - Starting Formation: Ocean Wave or Alamo. Definition: Those who can turn by the right one half (180 degrees), then those who can turn by the left one half (180 degrees). If "right" is not specified preceding the command to swing thru, it is a right swing thru. But the APD Committee said: not from a Dixie style formation, which basically is a left hand wave. To swing thru from this formation would require the centers to start! Nothing is said about Boy - girl relationship!!!

Circulate - Starting Formation: Waves, Columns, Lines and Two-faced Lines. General Rule: Directed (active) dancers move forward along the circulate path to the next position. Definition: Directed dancers circulate using the general rule. Technically: All Eight Circulate may be called from facing lines, but to avoid confusion why not call the more descriptive call, Pass Thru? With lines ring out, instead of All Eight Circulate we have two options: Ends Trade and Centers Trade or Couples Trade. The APD Committee said: not from facing lines or inverted lines. Again, nothing about boy - girl relationship! !!

The examples could go on and on, but the main gist is that unless a Basic or Mainstream movement has a Boy - girl relationship, such as Star Thru, California Twirl or Box The Gnat, neither the starting formation nor the definition will refer to boys or girls. The positions of individuals in a given starting formation will be referred to in the definition as ends, centers, leaders, trailers, outside, inside, out-facers and in-facers. There are perhaps other non-gender terms that could be used.

The Definitions Committee has been labouring over their responsibility since 1977 and after thirteen drafts the Basic and Mainstream Definitions were finally approved by the CALLERLAB membership April 15, 1981. Four years and a lot of input from the entire CALLERLAB membership before everyone could agree!

In 1982 the terminology of All Position Dancing and APD was withdrawn, and Dancing By Definition was designated as the appropriate concept for CALLERLAB's Mainstream Program. The Mainstream APD Committee and the Teaching Committee were merged into one and called the Dance By Definition Committee with co-chairmen Ernie Kinney, Frank Lane and Gregg Anderson. The illustrated Basic and Mainstream Movement Handbook will explain for each basic term or movement the Starting Formation, Definition, Styling Notes and Timing. Each of these headings is a separate committee within CALLERLAB. So what you see and read is the culmination of many thoughts from many callers over a period of years. Dancing by Definition is nothing new, and it means exactly what it says!

From: The Square Dance Bulletin Orlando / Central Florida

This article more or less deals with the historical development of DBD. Meanwhile there are more current terms, such as Standard Application and Extended Application. We will complete this article in the next Bulletin to bring the matter up to date.
The Editor

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