Friday, May 31, 2013

One More Time! Or Two . . . Or Three . . .

One of the great experiences of Catapult! Showcase was to see various callers at work and to see how they function.  Some have their dances written on 3x5 cards, some printed off a spreadsheet, some call from a mobile device.  Some callers write their dances out while others use a shorthand known only to them.

One of the things I learned that callers have differing ideas about is how long to run the dance.  It's something I've always felt insecure about and I've tried to implement various practices to help me be more in control of the process - like jotting down the name or the shirt color of the couple at the top of the hall so I can keep up with when they've reached the bottom, or starting the timer on my tablet to know when the dance has run 7-8 minutes.  The problem is that in the midst of the walk-through and dialogue with the band, I usually forget whatever it was I had planned to do until about the 3rd or 4th time through the dance!  So I end up guessing.  If the dancers look like they're really having a great time, I'll let it go a little longer, if they look bored, I'll cut it shorter.

When I was working with Coracree on Sunday morning, Bill Quern, the banjo/mandolin player with the group, told me about someone he knew who calculated the size of various dance halls and the number of times the tune needed to be played to get the dancers at the top to the bottom of the hall.  For a hall the size of the Clarkston Community Center where Catapult! Showcase was held, 15 times through the tune would be just about the right time. I thought to myself, "I've got to count 15 times through?? I'll never be able to keep up with that!"  But Bill said they would play three tunes, five times each, so I only needed to start counting when the band changed to their third tune.  Whew!  That's easier.  I think that process worked very well, but I still have the prerogative to end sooner or go just a bit longer if there is good reason.  Here's yet another thing I want to discuss with any new band I work with!

Despite the fact that I have yet to successfully implement a method of keeping track of how long to run the dance, I still manage to hit between 7-9 minutes most of the time.  I know this because my sweetie, Dave Pokorney, video records so many of my dances from beginning to end.  So I have a exact measure of how long a dance ran. 

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