Steve's Interview Notes made 1/25/10 in preparation for an interview with Allan Hurst on 1/27/10.
Square Dance Choreography By Steve Browning
- 1982: Started Square Dancing with Foggy City Squares
- 1983: Danced in the original Foggy City Exhibition Team (with Skip Barrett) for 6 months
- 1984: Skip sells Foggy City Squares to Foggy City team members and name changed to Foggy City Dancers (FCD)
- 1984: I approach the "new" FCD team to see if they would like to me to attempt some more creative choreography. The answer was, of course "Yes, Yes, YES"! see Foggy City Performance Team
- 1984: Seattle convention was the team’s first performance under my direction.
- 1985: First fully choreographed performances done at the Denver Convention.
- 1986: Hexagon concept debuted at the San Francisco convention (more on this later)
- 1984-1993: Choreographed for FCD performance team. Performed at all conventions during that time. The team disbanded shortly after we returned from Pink Triangles in Red Square, our exciting trip to Russia!
- 1995: Reformed a new team to do an encore performance at the 1996 convention in San Francisco.
- 2008: Attended my 25th consecutive convention in Cleveland.
In the Beginning:
I started thinking about interesting s.d. patterns right from the start. This was well before we had any experience with great professional callers (like Mike DeSisto). So I was making it up on my own!
Example 1: 2 squares dancing side by side and an 8-chain thru is called. What would happen if the side (or head) couples continued right on into the next square. (Video: 1992 Albuquerque, Well Traveled Love)
Example 2: 2 squares (again). And what about a Relay the Duecy that "joins" both squares and goes all the way through. Presto! The squares switch positions. (Video: 1992 Albuquerque, Well Traveled Love and 1986 San Francisco convention, Mama Don’t Allow)
Example 3: And let’s not leave out Spin Chain and Exchange the Gears! Plus level has many many calls that work really well for interesting choreography.
Ok, the examples are endless, but bottom line is that I actually got a chance to try out my ideas with the Foggy City Performance Team!
Figures/Concepts that I pioneered (invented?)
Hex(agon): 3 head and 3 side couples arranged in a circle. I had LOTS of fun with this concept and feel that I invented it! (Video: 1986 San Francisco convention, Mama Don’t Allow and 1992 Albuquerque, Mountain Music)
Triangle: 3 couples doing fun stuff
2 Squares: Mixing them up a bit with 8-chains, Relay the Ducey, Spin Change the Gears (and variations), Prom to opposite square, and more! (Video: 1986 San Francisco convention, 2nd number…hash music and 1992 Albuquerque, Well Traveled Love)
Transformation: I also enjoyed starting off with one concept (say Hex) and then bring in 2 more couples during the middle break and transform the hex into an Octagon or Big Square or 2 Squares. Then do 2 more figures from the configuration. (Video: 1986 San Francisco convention, Mama Don’t Allow and 1992 Albuquerque, Mountain Music)
- The first fully choreographed number was done using "generic" hash music and the music was modified to fit my choreography. However, once I gained a bit of experience and confidence,
I set about doing choreography that fit the structure of singing calls. And I stayed within the Singing call structure except for one thing…..I knew right from the beginning that I did not (could Not) have the follows dance with each of the leads. Not enough counts or figures to do this for a Hex (for example) and besides, it just wasn’t necessary.
- Singing Calls: When these are chosen carefully, they provide the best music for doing exhibition Dancing. And I found it fairly easy to fit my patterns to the Singing call structure:
There are seven parts – 64 counts each, as follows:
- Intro (involves entire square, or squares or hex)
- Figure 1 (heads)
- Figure 2 (heads)
- Middle figure (entire square)
- Figure 3 (sides)
- Figure 4 (sides)
- Ending figure
- Other Music: Also wrote figures for non square dance songs. (such as Well Traveled Love and Turn Me ’Round – K.D. Lang)
- Music: I spent a lot of time browsing through 45’s (that’s the way it was back then) to find singing calls that were exciting and fun to dance too. Also keep my ears open for popular songs that had the right beat for dancing.
- My Little People: I created my own caller checkers for working out choreography.
- Process (figures): I would usually get an idea for a figure based up an interesting s.d. call. I would have an idea about how I would like the figure to end using that call. Then I would back it up from there and see what position I need to get the dancers into before starting the call, in order to get them back to their partners at the end of the call.
Example: Hex using Relay the Deucy (LOVE this call!) I wanted to end the figure with the Relay, so I worked out the Relay pattern (using my Little People) and figured out where the dancers would need to begin the figure in order to bring them back to their partner and have them in the right order to promenade home.
I also got a feel for the total number of beats this would take, so then I knew how many beats I had left over in order to get them into that position. Then I worked out a series of call that would get them into position. These could include calls like all 12 circulate, Coordinate or Right/Left thru. Even simple calls are can be interesting in a Hex.
I think you know that I’ve posted a number of my favorite numbers on youtube.com. If you haven’t checked them out, you might want too before Wed. It might help clarify some of my ramblings above. You can find them all by doing a search for "Foggy City Dancers:" You’ll get a lot of stuff, but mine Should be obvious. They will either have the dance name (Trouble, Boogie Grass Band) or just have "Performance Team". I put some video references for most figures.