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Lanny Weaklend and Mike Hogan @Johnson 2015
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We Square Dance – Wheeler, Dan
Heart of America Federation Square Dance Clubs … Kansas Callers Association … Lanny.WeSquareDance.com. Lanny Weaklend. www.Lynn.WeSquareDance.com.
Date Published: 9/22/2021
Square Dance Omaha
What is Square Dancing? Fun exercise; Team sport; Memory conditioning; Friendship set to … I Have to Say- Mike Hogan & Lanny Weaklend …
Date Published: 11/25/2021
Moderator Clark Baker and Panelists Lottie Ainsworth and Lanny Weaklend. … A square dance caller makes many decisions while performing his job.
Date Published: 9/3/2021
American Square Dance Vol. 54, No. 11 (Nov. 1999)
Lanny Weaklend. 602-983-3013. 503-665-1967. 602-641-8683. 402-894-0791. “Brand New on Chinook”. CK-135 I Am No Drifter (Jerry). CK-136 Forbden Dance (Bill).
Date Published: 5/12/2022
Weekend & Multi-Day – Missouri Square Dancing
Sunday, August 14, 2022, Ozark Get-Away, Special Dance, Callers: Gary Shoemake … Special Dance, Callers: Larry Crady, Lanny Weaklend (NC), & Jay Krebs, …
Date Published: 12/14/2022
Discussions about specific calling issues (e.g., choreography, teaching) often end with “and you must use good judgment.” We will define discernment, the places in the calling where one makes these informed decisions, and explain how this skill can be acquired and improved. Our panelists will provide examples of good and bad choices for your discussion. As Josh Billings said, “There is nothing so easy to learn as experience, and nothing so difficult to apply.”
As far as I know, CALLERLAB never gave a talk on this topic before last year. Perhaps we were afraid that it would be too subjective and that we would examine judgments and judge them as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, perhaps with the aim of somehow codifying judgments. [add some more here]
I found the following mention of “good judgment” in Jack Lasry’s 1970 Notes For Callers. He talks about the new experimental call Alter The Wave:
I would recommend using it from standard waves until the flow and pattern is well understood. It dances really well, but use your good judgment in choosing which groups to present it to.
the ability to assess situations or circumstances sharply and to draw well-founded conclusions
the cognitive process of making a decision or drawing conclusions
the considered assessment of evidence in decision-making
the act of making a decision about something
a position or opinion or judgment reached after consideration
We want to make good judgments, and most of this talk will be a discussion of where good judgment comes from and how to develop it. Here are some definitions of good judgment I found online at Answer Bag:
Having a sense of what is good or useful for yourself or others. This includes making a balanced decision and weighing the pros and cons.
This is what happens when all of the following overlap in a single moment: Experience Freedom from bias and prejudice Thorough awareness of the precise details of the situation at hand Concern for fairness and the well-being of all involved Willingness to take responsibility for decisions and the consequences thereof
Question: Is good judgment the same as common sense?
Answer: No, because common sense is sound judgment not based on expertise. Many of our appointment decisions are based on specialized knowledge.
Opportunities for assessment in our work
Should you take a booking at all
how you dress
How early to arrive to the event
Backup in case of device failure
Your behavior at a dance, both on and off stage
Are you busy during breaks, interacting with the dancers and happy to be at their dance, or smoking outside or talking on your cell phone?
Music choices like using alternative music, specific types of vocal calls
How fast to call (tempo)
Entertainment style including use of yellow skirt, sexist calls
Sussing the floor (find out what this floor can take)
Programming an evening – when to break off your expected program
After party skits
How you come across in emails, especially when you’re upset
Ethical choices – the most important are set out in our Code of Ethics
Most judgments are considered good (or bad) mainly after some time has passed and the consequences of those actions have been measured. We make decisions based on the information available at the moment. Later, new information revealed that the decision wasn’t the best.
How to develop good judgement
Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from poor judgment. – Bob Packwood, Jim Horning, Fred Brooks, Oscar Wilde
Example: You accept a booking for a father daughter dance for the Girl Scouts. It was difficult for you to call the dance and you couldn’t wait for it to be over, pack up the gear and go. If you don’t think about the choices you made, from accepting the booking, to when the dance started, to the flexibility you had with the evening program, to how you controlled the crowd, to your behavior at the microphone, your judgement These situations will not improve. One tool to help with this process is to keep notes of every gig you do. These notes would include when you arrived, when the event was supposed to start, when it actually started, a description of the hall and where you set up, how many people attended, what your program was, what dance you did first when they took a break, how experienced the dancers were and important pointers to keep in mind when accepting another booking from this group. If you’ve tried teaching Grand Square and made a huge mistake, make a note of it.
The third component to developing better judgment is prediction. When we make a change, we need to be able to predict the results. In this way we always examine possible alternatives and choose the one with the best predicted results.
The components to acquiring and improving your judgment are:
We also need to work on our forecasting skills. For example, if you decide to teach a group of dancers a call, assume that your instructions will allow them to learn it in a short time. We’ve all been in situations where we’ve tried to teach something and it hasn’t gone very well. Had we been able to predict that things would not go well, we might not have gone down this path. Maybe it was too late at night, maybe we didn’t have the right words, maybe the dancers didn’t have to learn anything new at that moment just to have fun dancing. We need to be able to predict the results of our actions, and that ability also comes from experience and reflection on that experience.
The ideas in this section come from the article How Managers Develop Judgment: Learning in Action by John Labbe.
I don’t think dancers get their money’s worth. It’s about having fun, feeling wanted, and not having to dance the cute shouts that so many callers do. Many callers think they are self-proclaimed to teach the dancers something every dance. Dancers hate workshop sessions at a dance. Callers are entertainers, not educators at a dance. We were at a dance last Sunday and a caller called a fractional Grand Square. She broke the ground. I reached out to her after the tip and she said fractional calling was legal according to CALLERLAB. Later, in an email message, she justified her call of a fractional grand square by comparing it to eight-chain thru and square-thru. I replied that while these fractional calls are taught in most beginner dance series, a fractional grand square is not. She answered. I told her that she is supposedly an entertainer and not a teacher at a club dance. She replied that she was not an entertainer and she does what she does because she loves the activity so much. BS Maybe we should ask the dancers why they don’t come to square dances? You may get a sip and you may not like what you hear. I could give other examples of cute calls but I won’t waste your time. It boils down to what we sell, what the dancers don’t buy. We sell Edsels instead of Focus vehicles.
What do dancers want (or expect) at a club dance?
Is teaching something at a club dance appropriate?
Is Grand Square fractionation a good workshop idea?
Is it right to fractionate Grand Square?
How did the caller react when an angry dancer approached her?
Why is she (or you) in a leadership position at dances?
Should callers try to figure out why dancers don’t come to square dances?
…it never seems to surprise me how “stuck” many dancers can get. For example – one sequence I almost always try is: Allemande Left Your Corner Turn Your Partner Right Hand Round Men Star Left ACROSS Turn The OPPOSITE lady right Allemande Left your NEW Corner Go Forward 3 – right, left, right Turn Thru Allemande Left Weave The Ring Swing & Promenade
It’s rare that I hear that kind of calling today. Comments from my experience: Men Star Left ACROSS – Rarely mentioned, dancers will probably do well. Allemande Left your NEW corner – the idea of changing corners in this way is not used very often anymore. Also, finding your corner while rotating your arm is harder than finding your corner while circling. I’m expecting a breakdown here. Go Forward 3 – right, left, right – is rarely called, dancers will not anticipate this and are likely to collapse. Turn Thru – Rarely mentioned, will probably lose some dancers here. Luckily, the sequence doesn’t require the exact starting and ending position that Turn Thru has, so there’s some room for error and recovery here. Good caller judgment involves being able to read, see, or listen to a piece of choreography and anticipate how your dancers, or the dancers in the next dance you are hired to do, will react to the material. This judgment consists of knowing what is inherently easy and difficult and what patterns the dancers are used to (mainly based on frequency of use). If I were to call “Go Forward 1-2-3-4” the same number of times as “Square Thru 1-2-3-4,” I would expect similar success (i.e., lots of success) for both. Entertainers use an “expected reaction” when faced with a new group of people each night. They’ve told the same joke to so many groups of people that they can predict the reaction and know how long to pause and how to improve the experience. Ditto for traveling callers – they use the same material every dance and know from experience how to deliver it for success (or failure). You have a piece of material for which you have an expected answer. Unfortunately, the answer is failure. If there was a magic set of words you could use next that would turn that into success, then it might be a good programming technique (dancers feel better if they fail first and then succeed). But wouldn’t it be better to collect sequences where the caller’s response is, “Boy, that sounds impossible, but the dancers always pull it off” rather than “That sounds easy, but the dancers always fail”? I’m interested in teaching dancers to be good at the things commonly used in the current dance program and maybe prepare them for the next program. I’m sure my dancers would collapse on your sequence. However, if everyone used such material, I would train my dancers to use it.
This question comes up periodically. I understand that when the lists were first created, the members of CALLERLAB had a great deal of debate, with one side just wanting our organization to use simple lists of basics (i.e. the “List of Calls” page wanted didn’t hamper their creativity and said that you can’t legislate good caller judgment. In the end they prevailed, but the fight continues. Here is an email I sent to SD callers in 1998:
We’ve always had Left Square Thru and Reverse Flutter Wheel on the list. What about Reverse Wheel Around and Reverse Dixie Style to an Ocean Wave? The list has always been silent on such questions. “Reverse Concept” and “Left Concept” are clearly not on the list. However, some callers believe that once they have taught their dancers the concept of wheel around, their dancers will understand and be able to use reverse wheel around. I would use good caller judgment here (something I’ve heard can’t be legislated :-).
I don’t think a Good Caller Judgment document is needed. Good judgment cannot be documented or dictated, and last time I checked, CALLERLAB wasn’t about telling callers what to do, it was about suggesting and offering guidelines. The problem with documents is that they tend to turn into law (or as some call it policing) rather than help, and when that happens the purpose of the document is defeated. We have the standard application document and the extended application document (which you can think of as a good judgment document). We have the Applications Committee for further review of a bid should you need it, as well as the Definitions Committee. So I think we have the tools in place, but not all callers will use the tools. Your example of a caller shouting “Run Half” to create T-Bone and then doing your part to the dancers who just started square dancing, I would say it depends on the caller and how he/ she gets them in and out. There are some callers who could easily get any floor in the world to do it, and of course there are callers who would totally screw it up. No “good judgment” document will help, as there will always be good callers, great callers, and those who chase dancers away. Each person is responsible for their own good judgment, and no one can tell anyone else what their good judgment should be. Also, I doubt that the callers you think chase dancers away would bother to read or use a good caller judgment document.
While it may be impossible to legislate “good judgement”, we can impose restrictions that are in the best interests of the dancers, teachers and the activity in general. I’m against restricting each call to a start position. I don’t like it when my judgment is regulated. We don’t talk about positions. We’re talking about formations. My concern is to prepare the new dancer for what to expect from the few callers who can (and will) use the definitions like a weapon. In any case, leave the definition with all possible scope for application. But limit the use of formation (meaning what to teach the new dancer) for coordinate, manageable.
I’m leaving you with a point Jim Mayo made to me. We cannot talk about assessment without defining the goals. There is no general agreement on many of the aspects involved in calling out a dance. For example: “What kind of choreography and performance do most dancers look for in order to have fun?” If we disagree about our goals, how can we develop discernment about the choices used to achieve the goals?
For more informations
Audio recording of the Caller Judgment Talks at CALLERLAB 2011 (available from CALLERLAB)
2011 Judgment Session Handout (Jim Mayo)
Handout from Caller Judgment 2011 (Doc Hiraga)
Revised: $Date: 2012/03/25 20:11:03 $
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