Sunday, January 27, 2013

Who's in the Spotlight?

Sometimes people become contra dance callers because they like the spotlight.  They like being on a stage with a microphone and everyone looking at them.  They like telling a room full of people what to do and having those people obey.  (They certainly don't do it for the money!!)

Sometimes those callers end up overshadowing the rest of the community.  They talk so much that they distract from the band or distract from the dancers' ability to enjoy each other and the music. 

I've been thinking lately about the place of the caller in the community.  When I am walking the dancers through the dance, I am in the "spotlight" and that is appropriate.  I have just a couple of minutes to teach the dance as succinctly and clearly as I can and hopefully they listen at least enough that the calls make sense once the music begins. 

When the  music begins, I am no longer in the spotlight.  The band and the music and the other dancers are in the spotlight.  I am simply there to direct traffic the first couple of times through the dance.  If the dancers need prompts beyond that, I want them to be as minimal as possible.  Ideally, I can drop out altogether and let the magic happen. 

It's tempting to be controlling.  But truly, the caller is just one cog in the mighty community of contra dancing.  No more important, or no less important than the other elements.  The magic is made by the community, not by any individual. 

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