Standard Position Dancing

Everyone raised in the United States has the advantage of knowing what standard position dancing (SPD) means. This knowledge has been passed taken from generation to generation. Many times it happens that fathers and grandfathers are told to the incipient caller “you can’t call this from there. And the answer of the question why, is usually “because you can’t”.

Europe treats SD differently than America. For America square dance is a national dance, known for ages by everybody. Europe has known square for about the last 50 years. Square dancing has been imported and because there was no connection with the past, has been taken more technically. Definition was most important, not what people had learned from their childhood. Therefore by taking definitions more literally, dancing in Europe is more technically fastidious and more sophisticated.

Higher fastidiousness demands a caller, who is able to combine certain formation with certain figures, and a dancer, who doesn’t know such a combination and is forced to find the solution on the fly. Therefore higher fastidiousness is not demanded every time or cannot be used. If you call to the inexperienced or tired dancer, you are a guest caller at a club evening, you have a tip at the caller’s showcase, you are momentarily indisposed or you are inexperienced at the top level, these all are the right situations for SPD.

Standard positions or in other words dancing from standard positions is not defined by Callerlab. It is just about a performance of the figure from the formation which the dancers dance that figure most often. It is what they know to do instantly, subconsciously. Everything else for them is higher fastidiousness. If you take notes from several different dances, write down the pairs FASR-figure, the most often pairs define SPD.

The dancers are the reason why to use SPD. Your mission is not to show how difficult a combination you are able to make up. Your mission is to keep dancers moving. If you are unknown to the people on the floor, they won’t appreciate your outstanding combinations, if they will be forced to hear them standing in the static square. “Standing” ovation after such a tip has a slightly different meaning.

Yes, true, in your country/city/club are the best dancers in the world and cannot be satisfied by SPD. Nevertheless the SPD technique is something worth knowing, because one day it may help you and the dancers you are calling to at the moment..

Imagine there is a certain line:

Very hard, technical challenging dance

The edge of the floor’s abilities

Very boring, mundane dance





It makes no sense to keep dancers somewhere in the middle of the right field; maybe in the very beginning of your calling, but not for such a long time. Your duty is to keep dancers very close to the edge and sometimes slightly cross the line for a while but not to go too far.

SPD technique means that you call as many as possible figures from standard formations (note: for the purpose of this article the (standard) formation means a formation and an arrangement). Imagine that every figure starting from non-standard formation raises a red flag in your mind in order to be aware that dancers are closer to the edge. If you want to proceed to the line or behind the line, continue with non-standard formations. If you want dancers to relax, just go back to standard.

In the following tables you will find figures and their standard formations with arrangement.