Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Challenge Square Dancing

John and I are passionate about what we do.  We were passionate about square dancing for several years.  We put a lot of time and effort into square dancing.  For a few years we went dancing every day and twice on Sundays.

Here we are dressed up to dance.  I giggle when I see this photo because my gardener's tan is so obvious.  This is how we dressed when we went to traditional square dances.  I made my dress.

There is a kind of square dancing few people are aware of.... it is called Challenge Dancing; I call it puzzle dancing.  It includes concepts,  phantoms, and memorizing about 700 calls (sequences).  It is difficult, especially at C4, which is the highest level.. There aren't very many C4 dancers; last I knew, there were only about 100 of them worldwide, most of them concentrated near MIT and Stanford.  That might tell you something about how hard it is.  And you don't wear square dance attire for challenge dancing.

We square danced when we lived in the greater Boston area.  We were invited to join a Challenge workshop and then we became the protoges of Sue Curtis, who was (and still is) a major force in C4 dancing.  She dances, she calls and she makes up concepts for the C4 world.  We also were close friends with Clark Baker, who is a C4 caller of great repute.

To dance C4, you have to apply concepts to the huge set of call definitions.  You have to imagine a grid of dancers, many of whom are phantoms.  You have to figure out where the real people are in the grid.  Here is a concept paper, which might show you why I call it puzzle dancing.  And this is a list of concept papers that have been written, although it is only a small fraction of the concepts.

There are invitation only C4 weekends on the East and West coasts about twice a year.  We got invited to an East coast C4 weekend called the Berkeshires (the link takes you to a YouTube video of a 2012 Berkeshires weekend.   Being invited was a feather in our caps.  Still, we both knew that we really weren't up to the challenge of C4 and probably never would be.

We had more advantages than most aspiring C4 dancers.  We lived in an area that had a C4 group to dance with.  We had a great local C4 caller, Clark Baker.  And we had a lot of help from Sue Curtis.  We worked very, very hard.  Still, our brains really just were not big enough.  The people we were dancing with were mostly much smarter than we are.  It was an interesting lesson in humility.

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