Tom Fromm writes:
20. GRAND SQUARE: Starting formation -square. A call that has the sides doing one part while at the same time the heads are doing another. Heads move forward into the square (4 steps), turning one quarter (90°) on the fourth step to face partners and back away to the sides of the square (4 steps). Turn one quarter (90°) to face the original opposites. Back away to the corners of the square (4 steps) and turn one quarter (90°) to face original partners and walk forward to home (4 steps). Do not turn. (Total to here: 16 steps.) From this point the action is reversed. Heads back away from their partners (4 steps), turning one quarter (90°) on the fourth step and walk forward to the opposites (4 steps). Turn one quarter and walk forward into the center toward partners (4 steps). Turn one quarter (90°) to face opposites and back up to home (total: 32 steps). While the head couples are doing the first 16 steps, the sides start by facing their partners to back away and do the second 16 steps. Completing this, the sides do the first 16 steps, while the heads are doing the last 16. The principle of walking three steps and then turning (or reversing) on the fourth step is followed throughout. This call may be broken into fractional parts by the caller directing the number of steps required. The call may also start with the heads, or other designated dancers, directed to face.
STYLING: Mens' arms in natural dance position; ladies work skirt with natural swinging action. When moving forward and backward as a couple, normal couple handhold is desired.
TIMING: 32 counts.
When I teach this move, I start by telling them that they will end the move at the same place they started. While standing in a SS, I will have them use the hand that is next to their partner, and point across to the opposite person on the other side of the square. Then I will have them take their outside hand and point straight out from their side. I will have them to look at the small square that only they and their corner are kind of making with their arms. I will tell them that the small square that they are looking for is in the corner close to them. If necessary, I will help them see the square I am referring to. I will tell them that they will ONLY be walking around that small square.
Next, I will have them think about where the center is. I will have them remember where those imaginary lines are that they had with their corner. I will tell them that if I say to face in, that I am talking about toward the center, of the square. I will tell them that their back will ALWAYS be to the outside of the square. Now I will tell them that there are two "rules" to this move.
1) If you can reach straight ahead and touch someone, you back up.
2) If you cannot reach straight out and touch someone, you walk forward.
At this point, I will have the heads face their partner. I will ask who can touch someone? I will tell them that THEY will start by backing up. I will tell the others that they will start by going forward. I will tell them that we are going walk through it real slow. I will tell them that we are going to take four (should read 3*) steps in which ever direction they are supposed to go, either forward or backward. I will tell them, that on the fourth step, they will turn toward the center, "or face in". I will say let's do this much together. I also have them look at their partner, and the person straight across from them. I will tell them that whenever they turn, they will be looking at one of these two people. With the music off, I will walk them through,while I count and say when to turn, stopping at each turn to make sure we are all on the same page. When we are ready to start the fourth segment, I will tell them not to turn this time on the fourth step. When we get there, I will say that is one half of the move. Now what we will do is reverse what we just done. I will walk them back to home spot. I tell them that it is done non stop, and that I was having them stop to keep us all at the same place. I tell them that it is easy to "rush" this call, and that they should take their time and flow with the music. I will tell them that they will need to listen to who I tell to face, that it can be heads or sides. I'll tell them that after we get comfortable with it, we can "play" with parts of the call, but for now we practice like this.
Another hint that I have used, is to put a twenty dollar bill on the floor, in the center of the square. I tell them not to turn in a way that they cannot see the money, or someone might get it. The first time I done that, someone did get it. It was gone before I got back to my mic. That was more funny than when I borrowed one from a new dancer and put it in my pocket when done.
After they have the idea down, and are comfortable, we do some other things. I will wait a at least one lesson before using other varieties. I will start with all four couples sashayed. Next I will have only two couples sashayed. I will also have the boys face the girls, girls don't turn. I'll wait a couple weeks more before using fractions. I don't use a lot of fractions, but like to show them how it works. Using 8 steps to get them home, really surprises them.
Bob Bourassa writes:
From squared up set I have the heads step up and face their opposites and say look in her eyes and say to her " Sweetheart I'll never forget your face". You can ham it up as much as you want. Then back out, look at your partner and say "I"ll never forget your face either" (if it is the one they brought to the dance you can kid about him or her) at this point tell them you are serious. Repeat for the sides. You can ham this up to keep it light. Then have the sides face and tell them there are 2 rules to remember rule # 1. If you are nose to nose you back away four setps and on the fourth step turn to face the other face I told you not forget. rule #2 if you are across the square walk together four steps and turn on the fourth step to face the other face I told you not to forget. At all times to hold hands with the person be side you when possible. Holding hand with someone will help in two ways you will dance together and that person you are holding hands with will be the next you will turn to face in case you forgot that face. If it goes real well and I must say it does many times more than not. I will chain the ladies and say side face Grand Square "same faces but different places" the look of accomplishment on their faces means more to me than it does to them. A great way to cap off an evening.
Don Kroft writes:
[ lesson clipped ]
> Now I will tell them that there are two "rules" to this move.
> 1) If you can reach straight ahead and touch someone, you back up.
> 2) If you cannot reach straight out and touch someone, you walk forward.
I use these rules and add
3) This is a friendly call, you NEVER turn your back on someone and take hands when beside someone.
Bill Horst writes:
Tom has pretty much covered it for teaching Grand Square. I tell them that they will always face either their partner or their opposite. I tell them that if they are so close to the person that they are looking at that they can touch them, they should back up. But if they need binoculars to see the person they are looking at they should walk forward. Then I tell them to take *THREE (3 not 4 Tom) steps in the correct direction. Now turn 1/4 to face their opposite or partner as appropriate.
I don't worry about showing them the small square that they will describe. I think that is superfluous information for the first timer, but if it works for Tom, that's great.
Fred W. Walker writes:
Appreciated your post of June 29, 1998 which reinforced many of the same points and concepts I tend to stress when teaching this rather long movement. One concept that I have used to underscore the "four quadrant" concept is to physically walk into the square and with hand jesters define for the dancers an "imaginary brick wall" that is approximately 3 feet high. The idea is to create a "mental image" for them of a stationary object that they obviously cannot pass through but can hold hands over the top of. In one instance I even took the time to apply masking tape to the floor before the teaching tip started to depict the precise location of the imaginary wall for them. Now if we can just get them to stop rounding the corners and rushing this potentially elegant figure.