My Calling Background
first became involved in calling in 1995 when one of the Ottawa Callers held
an information session for anyone that might be interested in becoming a
Square Dance caller. This was triggered by the fact that a number of our local
callers were about to retire. I decided to get involved and so after
completing a subsequent Caller's Clinic, what followed was many months of coaching
by experienced callers (one in particular) and many hours of practicing in my
own basement. I also teamed up with another fellow new caller (Brian
Crawford), and we held a series of weekly dances in the basement of a local
church in Carleton Place.
We received tremendous support from about 3 squares of dancers from our home
club at the time, the
Mississippi Squares and this enabled us to hone our skills and build the
confidence we needed for the next step, which was to start our own club!
In the fall of 1998, the four of us (Geoff & Teena, Brian & Amy) successfully launched a new Basic & Mainstream Square Dance Club - initially with 20 dancers. We called it the Town & Kountry Kickers. We were totally successful and the Kickers club continued to flourish until April 2011 when, due to dwindling membership and an inability to secure any officers for the coming season, the club closed after 13 terrific years of fun & friendship.
For about 10 years (1998-2008), I did numerous one night events for church groups, private parties, weddings, etc. As well, I've taught Square Dancing to both grade school & high school students. On trips to Scotland I've also had the opportunity to call a number of times within Scotland for the Aberdeen Kilt Kickers & the Cupar "OK Square Dance Club", and for other public & private events. It was great fun, and during that time, for 5 years (2002-2007) I called for The Bay Waves club in Constance Bay, Ontario. However, now that I'm calling 3+ days/week, I rarely do the one night events anymore.
In 2003, as a natural growth of our Kickers club, I established a new Plus club called the Trackers. It also was tremendously successful & became an 'Executive-run' club in the fall of 2009 which flourished well under the leadership of its members dancing 4 - 6 squares each week for the next few years. Membership started to drop off during 2013 & 2014 for numerous reasons & when the club could not secure an Executvie for the 2015/16 dance year, the remaining membership voted to 'suspend operations indefinitely' in April 2015.
During the fall of 2006, I began learning to teach & call the Advanced [A1] Program. For the first 2 years we held dances solely in the basement of my home with a couple of squares each week, finally launching a new A1 club in the fall of 2008. We call it the Lockits. It has been very successful & we have been dancing the just the A1 program until early in 2012 when I started teaching/calling A2. By the end of the 2012-13 season, after having a successful A2 teach, we're now dancing both A1 & A2 on Wednesday mornings (4-6 squares) & A2 on alternating Thursdays (1-3 squares).
In 2016 when their Caller moved away, I was approached by the Grenville Gremlins to call for them. I started calling for the Gremlins in the fall of 2016, teaching & calling Basic & Mainstream as well as Plus tips both before & after their regular dance period. We dance upwards of 5 squares in Kemptville, Ontario.
I joined CALLERLAB as an 'Associate' in 2003 and attended my first CALLERLAB convention in April 2006 becoming a full member of CALLERLAB at that time. I've been to several other conventions since and I'm currently serving on their Basic/Mainstream; Plus; & Advanced Committees.
My Basic Philosophy
Very early in my calling career I learned some key lessons that I've retained over the years & try to keep foremost in my mind at all times. They are:-
- The dancers must win & have fun, no matter what 'level'
is being called. If they're not having a good time, then I'm not doing my
'job' as their Caller, whether it be at a regular weekly club dance or any
other 'open' type of dance. If they're not having fun, they don't
'win' & thus I've failed them! To further help our dancers 'win',
I make it a regular practice at the beginning of each year to take a few
weeks to do a good review of the program that I'm calling at 'that'
club. I refer to it as 'working off the summer rust' and it's also a
good way to ease in any newer dancers at the same time.
- Follows on the heels of #1, and that is.... dancers 'vote' with
their feet. If they're not having a good time, why would they
stay? My job as a Caller is to ensure that the dancers not only have a
good time & stay, but want to come back again & again!
- Always be respectful of your dancers & never criticize
or 'call out' anyone on the dance floor. Sure you can have fun with
them sometimes, but be ever mindful of having it turn into anything that
could be perceived by anyone as a form of criticism.
#4 - I must have fun too, or why would I want to be a Caller? Yes sure, there's a lot of 'work' behind the scenes that dancers never see, but as long as I enjoy doing it, I'll keep at it and be the best Caller I can be!
As you can readily see from the details above, I'm now calling 1 evening & 1-2 daytime sessions each week as well as any additional Open Dances & Guest caller spots that I may be asked to do from time to time. Teena & I also like to get in some 'personal' (just us!) dancing whenever we can fit it into our schedule. Although it's pretty hectic for us from September to the end of April, it continues to be enjoyable!
My personal motto remains the same as it has been from day 1.... "If I ever stop enjoying it, then I've got a pile of vinyl Frisbees (once known as records) & CD's for sale!"
Last Update: August 29, 2017