Tom D. Fromm Writes:
22. CIRCLE TO A LINE: Starting formation -facing couples. Couples circle left one half (180). The lead dancer in the couple who started on the inside (man's position) releases the left handhold, but retains the handhold of the dancer on his right to become the left end dancer of the line. The released dancer moves forward under the raised arm arch formed by that dancer and the adjacent dancer to become the right end dancer in the line.

STYLING: The circle portion is the same styling as in circle eight. As the man breaks with his left hand to form a line, he should lead the line several steps before turning. After the end lady has released her right hand, and while retaining the right hand of the man beside her, together they will raise their joined hands and make an arch. Then as the line begins to straighten out, she will move forward under this arch, turning left face gradually under her own left arm so that instead of backing up she is moving forward to the end of the line.

TIMING: 8 steps.

Clark Baker writes
I still remember being confused about who breaks and how you know from when I learned Circle To A Line in 1974. The caller would say something like "circle up 4; head men breaks; make a line of 4". I couldn't remember quick enough if I was a head man, and then which hand do I let go with, etc. It was all confusing.

With the knowledge I know know, I believe that I could teach it much better.

First off, I am happy to initially teach and use Circle To A Line from only a #0 Eight Chain Thru. I would teach it as

+ Circle Left Half Way
+ The end man is going to let go of the inside dancer and slide sideways to become the end of a line of 4.
+ The other dancers in his circle are going to unroll the circle into a line.
+ To make it easier for the last dancer in the line, the man next to her can make an arch (his right and her left) and she can go under the arch.
+ No matter what, it ends in lines facing.

Some teaching points and opinions:

I don't believe it helps to identify who is going to break before the dancers have even circled. Instead, have them circle 1/2 and then identify who leads the line out. Initially identify that dancer as the end man. Later you can point out that it is really the dancer on the end who is first in the circle (or the end left-side dancer).

I don't believe it helps to say who breaks or with what hand. Dancers don't identify the head/side designation very quickly and it is really two dancers who break the connection between themselves, not one dancer.

Teaching it as circle 1/2 and unroll (unwind, unwrap) the circle to a line is easy and makes sense. Teaching the twirl under as an embellishment that most everyone does, especially relating it to feeling like a California Twirl is not adding much to the learning burden.

Where I dance does not do slide and slap so it is not an issue.

Circle To A Line is also used at traditional squares and they never make a big deal teaching it. We should be able to do the same.
End Baker's comments.

When I teach this basic, I start from an 8 chain thru position. Although the flow wasn't there, I felt it was a way to get the dancers to better understand. I didn't want to make a connection with lead right, or anything else. I simply had the heads square thru, and say hi to their corner. Then I read them the definition. I told them to join hands and make a circle of four dancers. Then I told them to circle left 1/2 way around and clap. Then I had them join hands again and circle 1/2 way and clap again. (The reason for the circle 1/2 way first, was to make sure we know where 1/2 is.) I asked the couple on the inside to identify themselves. Then I asked which of the dancers in those center couples were the left hand dancer. I tell the left hand, inside dancer that he has a very important part. I tell the dancer he is looking at, that she has a more important part. I tell the other two dancers, they only have to make sure the other two don't forget their parts. I tell the man on the inside, that when they have circled exactly 1/2 way, that he should drop hands with the girl on his left, and continue toward the outside a couple steps. I will have him point to that girl and I'll say, "she is the one you are looking at right now. I'll tell the girl that just got pointed to, that she has the part of the move that makes it pretty. I tell her, that when the man lets her hand go, that she will make an arch with the man she still has hold of, and walk under that arch, and turn a little to her left to become the end dancer in a line. Now I'll tell them that it is important that nobody else drops hands, except that one man on the inside,and the girl he is looking at. I will say, just like the name implies, we are going to circle, then make a line. Now I'm ready to walk them through it slowly. I tell them to walk slowly, so we all stay together. I'll walk them through, as I "cue" it to them. I make sure that I tell them we are looking for a line. I'll get them back to the same place again, and "cue" them through once more. Then I will resolve and get them back home. Then I will have the sides square through, and go through the complete procedure again. I will even read the definition, and make certain they understand centers and left hand dancers. I think the two parts are a lot different for them at this point. I will then try to make sure that I mix them up enough to be assured that a dancer isn't being "pushed through. I will "cue" for a while as necessary.

I will also make a point to have them circle 1/2 way, and do something else. I do this, to not make a habit. I didn't teach it with sashayed or same sex couples, but will after they have been dancing awhile. I would consider that to be EA, or workshop material. I feel that newer dancers would become confused with this. I also feel that they should be able to do this with a good amount of success, before moving on to plus.

Dan Koft writes:
Good stuff in that teach! I have developed a chant that times with what they do. From a "0" 8 Chain Thru formation the chant goes

Circle to a Line,
Circle 1/2.....,
Head/Side Gent Break with the left,
Side/Head Gent Raise the right

This has helped my dancers time the arch and duck under so it is neither too soon nor too late (either of which makes it uncomfortable for the one going under the arch, part of why the slap & slide to a line is done).

Dan Koft writes:
I do not like to dance a "Slap & Slide to a line". I teach the proper definition and while they are learning it have a "chant" I use to get them to time all the breaks and twirls right. It goes like this [something to get them to facing couples, Heads in the Center]

Circle to a line
In my "command" tone of voice Head man break with the left.
In a lighter "hinting" voice. Side man raise the right.
In a lighter "hinting" voice I give the call, wait two beats then chant the "Head man break with the left, Side man raise the right" which times out to just before they should do it.

Since I started this 3-4 years ago more and more of my club are doing the call right. I attribute this to them learning exactly when to break and when to twirl. If either is off time "Circle to a line" becomes uncomfortable for some of the dancers (ladies usually).

When my dancers are about to go to their first outside dance I tell them about short cuts they will see, including showing them the "Veer Left, outfacing couple, as a couple Run around the others" version of Circle to a Line.

In my opinion doing either way is as comfortable as the other for the inside couples. For the outside couple, Slap & slide is more comfortable than an incorrectly timed Circle but less comfortable than a correctly timed Circle.

Guido Hass writes:
Walk under: when I teach circle to a line, I teach the lady to walk forward until she is at her destination, then turn _by herself_ to face in not letting loose the handhold. The lady is not bound to walk backwards, not even one step. Courtesy and manners of the gentleman should help her walking forward.

Twirl: in my opinion, a twirl is a movement where there is_some_ turning momentum added by the gentleman

Jim Who writes:
Callers can call Circle to a Line...... but go 3/4. It works for those doing it correctly and are listening. After a couple of times everyone is doing it correctly. In addition, it is a fun gimmick.

d2z writes:
Pam Courts wrote the following to the callers' message board 96-11-17. I think it is worth sharing again.

"Hi there, everyone. Just wanted to share a method I have been using this year for circle to a line. But first, let me say one thing........ "All rigid, "technically correct only" callers are hereby excused from reading the rest of this post because the contents of this letter may be hazardous to their mental and calling health. :-) "(Did all the flamers leave the room yet?!?!) :-)

"Anyway, I have found a way of teaching this call that takes the frustration out and puts the fun in. AND it reduces the teaching time by at least 50%. AND retention rate is almost 100%. Even with my weakest dancers.

"I have assigned a sort of medieval touch to the call. Everyone gets a part to play. We have the King, the Queen, the Twirler, and the Tail. The King alwaysleads. The Queen always follows the King. The Twirler twirls out the end girl. And the Tail... well, she's the Tail - the absoulute end. She twirls and then gets to be the end of the line. Everyone gets one part and one part only. The King is too busy leading to twirl. And the Twirler is too much of a playboy holding onto two women to lead.

"So I assign the parts with the inside guy, of course, being King. Everyone laughs at the "Tail" and the wives grimace when their husband is named "King". Everyone circles half, the King lets go of the Tail and leads left. The Queen follows, the Twirler unfolds the line and twirls out the Tail. PRESTO! Lines. Then we go through it several more times with different Kings, Tails, etc. Initially, everytime we do it, I ask who's King, Queen, Twirler, Tail. For about the first 10-15 times. Then I reduce it down to "Who's the King?". Then I take out the prompts when I see they don't need it anymore. When they goof up, it's fun to see one of them say, "No, I was the King!!" and everyone cracks up.

"You can also keep the same designations when doing it from half sashayed couples with the ladies in the lead. The lead ladies love being "King" and of course, they giggle as the guys become the "Queens" and "Tails".

"This may not be the most technical way to teach "Circle to a Line" but it is the fastest, most effective, and most fun way I have to date. Anyone who would like to use it, feel free. You might be surprised how fun it can be!!!

Perhaps if you callers who are planning on teaching your next class "Slide to a Line" try teaching Circle to a Line using Pam Coruts' method first, you may just begin a group of dancers who enjoy dancing correctly.