Community Dance Program

Contains a detailed description of the community dance program (CDP) including goals, history and uses. Includes square dancing, line dancing, contra dancing, big circles, trios, mescolanzas, circle mixers, etc. Check out other pages on this website by clicking on one of the following buttons. DFBP Hm is the home page.

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Advantages of Limited Terminology
Dancing for a Lifetime
CALLERLAB Recommended Basics List


As you browse through this website and this page you will notice that the material and recommendations do not strictly follow the The CALLERLAB Community Dance Program recommendations described below. While the materials included at this website reflect the goals of the CALLERLAB Community Dance Program, the website is not an official production of CALLERLAB. It is a production of Calvin Campbell, the author of the website. References to CDP in the remainder of the site refer to the 'concept' of community dancing which is used by many dance advocates. When reference is made to the CALLERLAB version it will be specifically labeled as The CALLERLAB Community Dance Program.


In 1986 a worldwide group of dance leaders met to discuss the changing dance desires of the American public. It was obvious that the size of dance instruction classes were decreasing and the attendance at most dance functions was becoming smaller. Many reasons were cited for this decline. Dancing was no longer a part of the curriculum in elementary and secondary schools so more and more adults had little experience in dancing. Job and social pressures gave people much less time to devote to any one hobby. Entertainment options had expanded to the point where dancing was not able to successfully compete for people's time because of the extended amount of time it took to learn to dance.

The group felt that a program needed to be developed which could be easily taught and easily learned in a few short sessions. Following this learning period, functions would be provided where people could attend as frequently or infrequently as they desired and still be able to dance comfortably most of the dances presented during any one program.

The group favored using a mixture of different dance formations and a broad variety of music. Square dancing, quardilles, contra dancing, trios, mescolanzas, and Sicilian circles all can share a common set of dance terminology. Many round dance mixers and no-partner (line) dances can be largely described with the same terminology.

In 1988 the International Association of Square Dance Caller's (CALLERLAB) established the Community Dance Program (CDP) and published a small manual describing the program. CALLERLAB represents over 3000 dance leaders with interests in a wide variety of dance forms including all the ones mentioned above.

A list of 24 largely traditional square dance basics (see below) was identified. The ideas was that these basics could be used as a recommended 'core' set of movements which would be taught to all dancers participating in the CALLERLAB Community Dance Program.

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Advantages of Limited Terminology

Dancing using a limited number of terms is certainly not new. Numerous events are held every night around the world where people arrive knowing little or nothing and dance a whole evening with a minimal amount of instruction. Many of these dances are called 'community dances', 'one night stands', 'beginner parties', etc.

The CALLERLAB Community Dance Program is just a little more ambitious. It assumes that many people are willing to learn a few basic movements well enough so that they do not have to be taught during every dance. Then the leaders have the advantage of being able to walk-thru dance routines in a shorter period of time and to introduce the people to more dances. More dancing means more fun.

The advantages for the dancer include:

Dancing for a Lifetime

Generally people do not dance continually throughout their life. They may learn as youth, have to stop for a time to make time for jobs or children, etc. and then return to dancing later in life. People also tend to move from place to place and may dance with many different groups of dancers.

The terminology used in this program is universal throughout most of the world where Americans dance. The skills learned will enable people to participate in dancing for a lifetime. They form the foundation for learning more complex dances when desired. They provide the base of knowledge to enjoy dance, as a recreation, at any level of participation.

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CALLERLAB List of Recommended Basics and Recommended Teaching Order

  1. Circle Left/Right
  2. Forward & Back
  3. DoSaDo
  4. Swing
  5. Couple Promenade
  6. Single File Promenade
  7. Allemande Left/Right
  8. Arm Turns, Left/Right
  9. Right & Left Grand
  10. Weave the Ring
  11. Star Right/Left
  12. Star Promenade
  13. Pass Thru
  14. Split the Couple/Ring
  15. Rollaway Half Sashay
  16. U-turn Back
  17. Separate
  18. Courtesy Turn
  19. Ladies Chain, Two/Four
  20. Lead Right
  21. Circle to a Line
  22. Bend the Line
  23. Grand Square