Choreographic Rules of Flow in Square Dancing
by Lynette Bellini
These are my rules of flow in square
dancing. They are the result of thinking about how to program a
computer to write reasonable square dance choreography. I expect
no one to agree with these rules 100%; in fact, I personally break
every one of them some percentage of the time.
Points of Rotation
In order to have a method of discussing the various motions encountered
in square dance choreography, I have identified several points of
- A single dancer: the point of rotation is about the center
of a single dancer, as in the call roll.
- Two dancers : the point of rotation is about a point between
- Four dancers : the point of rotation is about a point in the
center of four dancers.
- Center of the square : the point of rotation is about the
center point of the square.
There are multiple ways to pair dancers; swing and slip are both examples
of the two dancer point of rotation, but they are different. The same
thing applies for the four dancer situations: from waves, lockit and split
counter rotate operate around different points, but they are each four
- The point of rotation must be different on every call for every dancer.
- No dancer who has a lateral motion (leads on walk and dodge) should
receive a call that moves them in the direction opposite to that lateral
- No dancer should travel continuously in one direction (clockwise
or counterclockwise), whether or not their point of rotation is constantly
- The direction of rotation should not be abruptly changed. The smaller
the point of rotation, the more incorrect it is to change the direction of
rotation (e.g. 1/4 right, then 1/4 left: the point of rotation is a single
dancer and therefore this pair of calls has incredibly bad flow).
Bonus rules (rules for writing choreography, but not flow rules):
- Change the shape of the overall formation as frequently as possible.
- Change the focus of attention as frequently as possible: from a wave
to a box, to the 8 dancer setup, to two dancers, etc.
Back to the Challenge Dancing Page
January 11, 1996