There is an age when children don’t like to touch each other’s hands.
This can be a problem when you are a dance caller and have been asked to teach the little ones how to enjoy a square dance.
From his 30 years of experience – 20 years as a caller – Bob Kuiper designed a dance that only required a high-five and included some hip hop moves to a modern fiddle tune.
“They loved it,” says Bob Kuiper today. “They wanted to do it again.”
Recently, at a dance for Copper Ridge Place volunteers, Kuiper saw eight people in wheelchairs. So, he designed a dance right before the event so they could take part, too.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Kuiper says more than once. And it’s versatile so that many people can take part and it is easy to learn.
At a Barn Dance this Saturday, April 4, at The Old Fire Hall, Kuiper expects to see new people and a lot of regulars.
He fully expects to see a sold-out crowd of 120 dancers and he knows that most of them will dance with each other at least once during the evening.
“It’s a great social event,” says Kuiper. “It is part of the community/family while also being a real workout.”
Since people go to barn dances to dance, it is easy for singles to find a partner. And there are even dances that don’t require a partner.
“And the music is second to none,” says Kuiper.
Indeed, some people will just sit back, from time to time, just to enjoy the live music of Keitha Clark, Annie Avery and Kieran and Graeme Poile.
To those who are coming out for the first time, Kuiper wants them to know that they don’t need any experience. The dances all have a walk-through first and they will each be doing just fine by the end of the evening.
And, if they need just a little more help, Kuiper is out there on the dance floor with them, purposely staying close to the newcomers.
He says this is possible because of the headset he now wears when dance calling. It may be new to him, but he says First Nations tradition has dance callers on the floor dancing, too.
Newcomers should know, too, that they don’t need to wear western-themed clothing, although it is awfully nice seeing the women in their billowing dresses.
Clothing should be loose and light because there is a lot of moving and it gets warm quick.
“If you are wearing a heavy sweater, you’ll soon be taking it off.”
Kuiper got involved in “contra dances” in Vancouver. When he came to the Yukon, he found dance callers in Haines and Juneau, Alaska, and in Vancouver, to help with dances here.
Then, he decided to learn, himself, with the help of the Vancouver dance caller who was also a teacher. He already knew the dances and he knew the music as a guitar, mandolin, violin and bouzouki player.
First lesson for calling: “Structure the call to fit the timing of the music.”
How do you do that?
Kuiper thinks for a moment, and then, “I’ll draw you a diagram.”
He writes out two A’s and two B’s in the left column and then places eight spaces beside each. Then, right there in the middle of Doc’s Diner, he stands up and demonstrates a “Do si Do”.
It has eight beats to this movement. But it needs to be called just before the end of the movement before it.
“There is a whole art to dance calling,” says Kuiper. “Each caller has their own personal style.
“It is just like music, they each have their own personality.
“It is a blast to do it and it is fun for the dancers.”
And Kuiper points out that this is not a “club”, which is “a whole different area”.
“If you goof up, it’s part of the fun.”
Although this upcoming event is called a “barn dance”, there will also be polkas, squares, rounds, waltzes and two-steps.
Tickets for the Saturday, April 4 Barn Dance are available at Arts Underground or at the door at The Old Fire Hall starting at 7:30 p.m.
Prices are $10 for adults and $5 for children with a $25 cap for families. Kuiper says the prices are kept low to make it more accessible.