Tom Fromm Writes:
26. SQUARE THRU FAMILY -1-5 hands: Starting formation -facing couples.

(a) SQUARE THRU: Facing dancers join right hands and pull by. Turn in one quarter (90), join left hands and pull by. (A half square thru has been completed.) Turn in one quarter (90) and join right hands with facing dancer and pull by. (A three quarter square thru has been completed.) Turn in one quarter (90), join left hands and pull by but do not turn. (A full square thru has been completed.) Variations of square thru may be specified by fractions or by the number of hands, e.g. square thru three quarters is the same as square thru three hands, etc.

(b) LEFT SQUARE THRU: Similar to square thru except that it is started with the left hand and hands are alternated accordingly. When a left square thru is required, "left square thru" must be directed.

STYLING: Styling should be similar to that in right and left grand. Corners should be rounded off rather than pulling through and doing a square military turn.

TIMING: SS, 4 people full, 10 steps; three quarters, 8; one half, 6; one quarter, 4. Box, 4 people full, 8; three quarters, 6; one half, 4; one quarter, 2 steps.

When I get ready to teach this move, I have them in a SS. I will tell them that we already do a form of this call. I will tell them, that the start of Right & Left thru is actually a square thru 1. I will walk them thru (first heads, then sides) a R&L Thru, and ask them to go slow, so we can all do it at the same time. First I will walk them thru as I point out the pull by, THEN the courtesy turn. I will remind them that this is the way we first do a R&L Thru. I will point out, that when their shoulders get even with each other, to drop hands. I will tell them that I can suggest any number of hands to square thru.

Now I get everyone back home, and I will do a square thru one, and promenade home, with both heads and sides getting a chance.

Next, I will look at square thru three. Before we start a square thru three, I will have them take a good look at their partner. Now I will have them look at the person across from them. I will say: "When you let go of the hand of one of these people, you will grab a hand of the other one. In order to make the move flow smoothly, we are going to alternate hands used for the pull by. For them to do the pull by with the next person, they have to turn to face that other person first. I will stress to them, they will always face in to look at one of those two people. " I will tell them, that they need to listen to how many hands I say to square thru, And when they pull by with that last hand, they pull straight by and DON'T turn to face in. I'll tell them the name of the move is, Square Thru 1 - 5 Hands, so I may say any number, including 100. When I get the look of terror, I will say that I only use 100, if I need to refill my water glass.

Now I will have them square thru three. I will walk them through, as I cue "right pull by, face in, left pull by, face in, right pull by, stay facing out." Now I'll have them promenade. After they start into action, I will add "ALL THE WAY HOME". I will do this with the heads as well as the sides.

After we have worked with square thru 1 & 3, I will use it some to give them some practice. Then I will throw in square thru 4, then 2. When I show each new number, I will "cue" them through, stressing the pull straight by at the end. I will have them in a SS, and have heads square thru 4, give them a short pause, and have everyone square thru 3. This first session, I will stay with "normal" couples. After a few lessons go by, I will use 1/2 sashayed couples and same sex couples.

When we get close to the end of the basic program, I will have a session set aside for left hand stuff. I will want to be sure that the whole class can be in attendance. We will "play" with the left hand stuff, square thru and others. As most of the left hand stuff is in italics, I feel that it should be taught (and used) before advancing to the next level.
When I get ready to teach Left Square Thru, I will start from a SS. I will have the heads star thru, and go forward & back. Now I will have them square thru three. (This puts them in the same ending (ready to use a left hand) spot, but gives them the same starting feeling (right hand first). After a few tries, I will have them start a left square thru from home.

Bill Horst writes:
I agree with much of what you say regarding square thru. Someone else on this board not too long ago suggested teaching square thru 1 first instead of square thru 4 and I tried it. It sure made things easier.

But Tom, why do you teach it from a static square? I break the dancers into "mini squares", two couples facing each other. That way everybody learns at the same time instead of first just the heads, and then just the sides. I start with square thru 1. I say "pull by and you're done. You've just done a square thru 1." California twirl to get them facing again and try it again. Then onto square thru two. "Pull by, drop hands, turn 90 degrees to face the person next to you. Pull by and you're done." Do this a few times.

During square thru 2 they get used to turning after a pull by. Then on to square thru 3. At this point I tell them that once they start turning in a certain direction, they will continue to do so for the entire call, no matter how many hands. Finally square thru 4. I point out that if the caller says square thru without a number he means 4 hands. Then I go on to square thru 5 just to prove I can put any number there that I want to. Then we merge the mini squares back into full squares and the music goes on and we dance it to music.

Depending upon my mood, I might call square thru 6 or even square thru 8 just for a laugh, but not more than once!!!!

One other suggestion that Vern Weese gave me once. I teach this call BEFORE I teach right and left thru. Why? Because then they won't make the mistake of trying to do a courtesy turn on the second hand.

Robert Steven van Keuren writes:
One thing I do with Square Thru is to delay teaching Right and Left Thru until *after* I teach Square Thru. A common problem I see in teaching Square Thru is men trying to courtesy turn the women after one of the pull-bys. If I delay Right and Left Thru until a few weeks after Square Thru, the problem doesn't occur. That means a lot of "Pass Thru, Courtesy Turn"s, but it's worth it!
BTW, I ran into the reverse problem in a C-1 dance the other day. The caller called several 8-Chain Thrus. Couldn't get some of the dancers to do a Courtesy Turn to save their lives! :-)

Author unknown:
If I delay Right and Left Thru until a few weeks after Square Thru, the problem doesn't occur.

I have been doing this teaching technique for the past 10 - 12 years. It does work.!!!!!

Lawrence Johnstone writes:
I've tried that this year, too, and found that it also seemed to make people catch on quicker to build up from 1 rather than start out with 3 or 4. (Note: I'm also using Nate Bliss' method of doing a U-Turn Back rather than California Twirl before repeating the square thru, to give dancers the feel from both sides right from the beginning. That seems to help, too, but if I forget to keep reinforcing it over time, the dancers forget [Naturally!])

But Tom, why do you teach it from a static square? I break the dancers into "mini squares", two couples facing each other.

I've been doing that, too. However, in my next class I may go back to starting from a static square. Why? It's because of something Bob Elling was talking about at USAwest. I haven't seen Bob post here in a while, so I'll pass it on. [Naturally, Bob posted something right after I wrote this -- but I'll send this anyway. :]

When Bob teaches Square Thru, he will have the Sides squeeze into the middle, and then have the Heads Square Thru around them. This forces the dancers doing the Square Thru far enough apart that they CAN'T Courtesy Turn, so they learn the traffic pattern without that common occurrence. After doing it that way a while, THEN Bob moves the other dancers back and has the Heads work inside on the Square Thru. Bob says that this almost entirely eliminates Courtesy Turns on a Square Thru, whether you teach Right & Left Thru first or not. (Bob says he got this idea from another caller, who put a chair in the middle and had the dancers Square Thru around it. Bob didn't have a chair available, so he started using people!)

Michael McMullen writes:
A couple of other ways to avoid the courtesy turn problem are
1. teach LEFT square thru first, since the left hand is already in use try to do a courtesy turn is very awkward.
2. have the dancers do a half sashay, since the girl is on the "wrong" side, a courtesy turn won't seem natural for the 2nd hand.

Clark Baker writes:
There have been several good ideas on teaching this call. Most of the ideas are motivated by a specific problem area (e.g. dancers courtesy turn on the last hand). One proble area which I haven seen mentioned is, from normal couples, the women often want to turn the wrong way after hands 1 and 3 and the men want to turn the wrong way after hands 2 (and 4 of it goes that long).

The reason for this is that the quarter in action after each pull by is somewhat unnatural for half the dancers. Often we dance the pull by with a slight amount of arm turn (even a 16th will get one dancer heading the wrong way). Think about the man on the first hand of a square thru. If he arm turns slightly on the pull by (perhaps because he held on a little too long), he will be headed into his 1/4 in. This is good. Think about the woman on the first hand of a square thru. Any arm turn at all on the pull by will turn her away from her proper 1/4 in.

Part of this is why some experienced dancers add the following frill to square thru: After hands 1 and 3, have the women replace their 1/4 in with a 1/4 out and roll twice. After hand 2, have the men replace their 1/4 in with a 1/4 out and roll twice. It makes square thru dance better.

So, I am interested in hearing if callers observe the mistake I described above, and what they do to prevent it from happening. Suggestions off the top of my head are:
+ Make sure that everyone lets go on the Pull By in Square Thru. Start this good habit early in Right And Left Thru (assuming that you teach this before Square Thru). The let go in a Pull By should be as the two badys pass each other.
+ Make sure that everyone knows which way the 1/4 in is. Make this knowledge stronger than the slight turning on a pull by can disrupt.
+ Explicitly warn the dancers about this problem area. I don't like this solution as much (in this case -- there are times when this teaching method is acceptable).
+ Tell them it is like a mini right and left grand. I also am not a big fan of this because I think of right and left grand as being around a circle and square thru as being around a square and a square is not a mini circle. Also a lot of dancers don't see the whole picture of a right and left grand and they could see what is happening on a square thru.

It is worth noting that Square Thru is one of the more complex moves in MWSD which is also used in Contra Dancing. Some of the MWSD moves which we spend a lot of energy teaching and reviewing, the contra dancers just give a quick teach and get on with the dance, letting the repetition do the teaching and smoothing things out. In the case of Square Thru (I have seen both 2 and 3 used), the newer dancers (and others) were confused and had a hard time, sometimes turning the wrong way for the entire dance. This says to me that Square Thru is intrinsically hard, and we should give its teach some careful attention. Another thing that makes it hard is that it is one of the first calls which takes a parameter (the number of hands).

Jim Cholmondeley writes:
I have shared this before with some of you. when I teach a Square Thru I teach it by:
1. Right hand pull by
2. Turn in 1/4 and Left hand pull by
3. Turn in 1/4 and right hand pull by
4. Turn in 1/4 and left hand pull by.

I never have a problem of a turn at the end, or a courtesy turn. It works so much better than:
1. Right pull by and turn
2. Left pull by and turn
3. Right pull by and turn
4. Left pull by and DO NOT Turn

Jim Penrod writes:
I believe that I have used every method mentioned hereuntofore on this board. 90 so odd percent of the dancers learn the call without problems. But there will always be the one or two that insist making this a difficult call to learn. Shoot, sometime that even happens with Ladies Chain (the man goes to sleep). The method that I have had some success with is:

Right hand pull by "find the person beside you, turn to face that person" Left hand pull by "find the person beside you, turn to face that person" etc until the last hand, then I give them a quiz. "how many hand pull by did you use?" "on the magic number (4 or 3 or ?) don't turn. stay there until the next call."

The point I'm making is "turn to face the person beside you." I will eventually tell them that is called "turn in".

Dave Hass writes:
I use the chair routine. I have every couple be a head couple. I put a chair right beween them and explain that the chair is the (in)side. Tell them that they always must turn in so they can see the chair at all times. It works for me.

Bob Bourassa writes:
Thanks I have been holding back to see if anyone else used this approach. I thought maybe I was the only one who uses a chair. I always have and my success with it means I always will. With this method Square Thru is a snap. Any number, or any place in the square. Courtesy Turns are almost nonexistant. But nothing is carved in stone. There is always one of those guys out there who will find a way to Courtesy Turn. If anyone wants to know more about the approach just ask.

Bob Elling writes:
I learned with the chairs 27 years ago. About 20 years ago I found something better. I was working a hall that had built in benches and no chairs. I had the inactive couple step forward and u-turn back. I then had the other couples work around the centers (heads divide) instead of using a chair. I don't have to break the squares up and the other couples get a good show.

I spend extra time pointing out that on a pull by you rellease hand holds while the person is still in front of you, the I say take a right hand and pass thru step forward face the next person take a left hand and pass left shoulders etc.. I like the idea of teaching square thru 1 hand then 2 etc. When everyone is confortable I tell them we will make the box (square) smaller. Center step forward and u-turn back now do it in front of them.

On those accasions where I have someone using a courtesy turn I go DBD right away and have the heads rollaway circle left 4 men up and back and 4 men square thru and swing your partner. Nothing fancy but it is like a shot of penicillin.

I shared this with Harold Bausch when Callerlab was in Phoenix. He wrote me a very nice thank you letter stating that his dancers really liked this approach.

Dan Koft writes:
As others I teach R&L thru AFTER this call. I will also have taught that a pull by (Right or Left) should be danced as
1) Shake indicated hands
2) RELEASE hand hold (possibly with a slight tug towards you)
3) Walk by facing dancer passing the indicated shoulder

I open a Square thru (hence forth noted SQ-> ) with

H/S SQ->1 [h/s shake rights and pull by], U TURN BACK
S/H SQ->1 [s/h shake rights and pull by], U TURN BACK
H/S SQ->1 [h/s shake rights and pull by], U TURN BACK
S/H SQ->1 [s/h shake rights and pull by], U TURN BACK

from a squared set (I do this so auditory learners hear what to do, visual lerners see someone do it, and kenetic learners do it)

I then step up to SQ->2 where I demonstrate with some dancer (new or angel) what happens on a pull by when either hangs on too long. Then go on with the drill

H/S SQ->2 [h/s shake right, pull by, face in, shake left, pull by], U TURN BACK
H/S SQ->2 [h/s shake right, pull by, face in, shake left, pull by], U TURN BACK
S/H SQ->2 [s/h shake right, pull by, face in, shake left, pull by], U TURN BACK
S/H SQ->2 [s/h shake right, pull by, face in, shake left, pull by], U TURN BACK

Dance these a bit then move onto other SQ->#. If someone is having troubles I may use a chair if it is available, I may use trusted angels or myself in the center, (never thought of using the 4 inactives before), or as a last result have people take out their wallet and place it on the floor in the center of the foursome and say “You don't want to lose sight of those wallets so when you turn turn towards them.”

I have used sciclian circles (pairs of facing couples, arranged in a circle, facing around the circle no in or out) to very goo effect on SQ->

Forgot to mention that after they can do SQ-> they dance SQ->1, Courtesy Turn as a lead in to a Right & Left Thru teach.

In my experience, if they are going to do it, Left Square Thru only moves the courtesy turn to the 3rd hand.

Erin Byars writes:
Scot places anything from a quarter to a $5 bill in the center of the foursome and says, "Don't take your eye off of the money!" It never fails! (Once he happened to have a $100 bill is his pocket -- boy was that an exciting night!)