The International Square Dance Magazine

Michele Vieira

The following article appeared in ďFor the RecordĒ, the publication of the Texas State Callersí Association (TSCA) this past year. As noted above, it was written by Michele Vieira, Secretary of TSCA, round dance cuer, and caller/partner leader with her husband/caller, Dave Vieira.

While there may be differences in the way the times are allocated in your particular area, the main point Michele makes about scheduling our dance times is worth all of us reviewing to make sure we are taking the best possible care of our new dancers.

I am confident that most callers and clubs that offer new dancer programs are really working to take care of their new dancers, but this article encourages us to take another look at making our dance schedules fair.
Mike Seastrom

Before I actually put pencil to paper, well actually keyboard to print, I thought a lot about the impact (if there would be any based on what I was about to write) and if yes, what would it consist of; notes, posts, maybe even anger. But I think it is important to stop and rethink some of the things we are doing in the wonderful world of square and round dancing.

Letís begin with a Mainstream club dance. Not a special, just a normal Mainstream club dance. Some clubs have programs which consist of early rounds, then a grand march, then alternating between squares and rounds the rest of the evening.

So letís say we start at 7:30pm; that is 30 minutes, minimum round dancing 8-10 songs. It is now 8:00pm, so grand march and welcome! Letís say 10 minutes. Then we square-up and dance for approximately 8-10 minutes 2 songs. Now rounds are back up and we go through this all night with one break for announcements.

Rounds/Square Dancing/Misc.

7:30-8:00pm; 30 minutes

'8:00pm-10:00pm; 40 minutes, 60 minutes, 10 minutes Grand March and Welcome, 10 minutes Break for announcements

Now initially this doesnít look too bad, right? Itís a fairly even dance in time. Thatís, of course, if you time everything out in this manner.

Letís look at this a step further. During the 60 minutes of square dancing, you are going to do one or two Plus tips. So now you reduced your Mainstream dancer time on the floor by 10 minutes for each Plus tip. Now it looks like this:

Rounds/Square Dancing/Misc.

7:30-8:00pm; 30 minutes
8:00-10:00pm; 40 minutes, 40 minutes, 10 minutes Grand March and Welcome, 20 minutes Plus, 10 minutes Break for announcements

Now letís look at our new dancers for a moment. We zipped the new dancers through say 15-20 weeks of lessons so they had 30-40 hours of instruction. We are not doing workshops because we have early rounds. Okay. We have two Plus tips, so we have taken 2 hours of dance time to 40 minutes for a new dancer. So assuming the club dances twice a month ; in a year a new dancer would have spent 31 hours on the floor total, less than an hour a week with the club.

Now we all encourage our dancers to visit, or to take lessons again right? So what happens when they visit another club? Thatís right travel, no telling how long, to get 40 minutes of dancing. And to top it off there are those that donít want to dance with the new dancers because. Why? They donít know how to dance as effectively. Is someone elseís club the place to teach? Okay, so take lessons again and be a what?...angel. Seriously, so am I dumb, unteachable, why didnít what I paid for the first time teach me? Itís like I flunked out of class because I didnít get it!

And last, but not least, where do round dancers come from? Square dancing probably produces them what, 95+% of the time? Thatís a discussion for another newsletter.

Now absolutely everything written here can be twisted, recalculated, weighted differently, etc. I get that! Clubs are different, but what I am trying to do here is get a conversation started about how we get dancers started. Folks, new dancers are not being treated like you would treat your kid if you were their coach or how you would want the music teacher to treat your kidís music lessons. Just think about it.

Michele Vieira has been square dancing since 1991 and cueing rounds since 1995. She married her caller/husband, Dave, in 1992. They have three children and three grandchildren.

She has been a leader and held offices in the North Texas State Callers Association and is a current member of the East Texas Caller Association. She is also the current Secretary of the Texas State Callers Association.

Michele has been employed at Texas A&M University-Commerce for almost 10 years and is currently the University Human Resources Assistant Director and Title IX Administrator. The square and round dance activity is lucky to have her as a leader, cuer, and partner! 

Fun set to music!