Call of the Month: April, 1994

Chain Reaction

by Barry Leiba

First things first: we've got a couple of quizzes from the last two months to give answers to. Two months ago, in Shape Changers, part 2, I asked what the lowest level calls are that can be shape changers from some starting formations but not from others. Well, the A2 dancers had the first shot at that, and it was a pretty tricky shot even so. MOTIVATE, from its normal starting position of parallel waves, is not a shape changer. But if it's done from two-faced lines it is a shape changer, ending in an offset formation called a parallelogram (or triple boxes, as the C1 dancers might know it). This is only marginally A2, since the two-faced line starting formation and the parallelogram ending formation isn't likely to get much success with A2 dancers. On the C1 list there are a few calls that qualify: PERCOLATE is a shape changer from waves, but is not a shape changer from back-to-back lines. TALLY HO is the opposite; it's not a shape changer from waves, but is from facing lines (and from trade by). And REGROUP from column formations is not a shape changer, but from line formations it is. I can't think of any other calls at Mainstream, Plus, or Advanced that have that characteristic. If you can, let me know, and I'll publish your answer here.

In last month's Once Is Not Enough column I posed two challenges: do SPLIT COUNTER ROTATE ¼ twice from a tidal wave, and do SCOOT BACK AND ROLL twice from parallel waves. [Diagram: TWICE SCOOT BACK AND ROLL from parallel waves] For the first, note that the split is between the two end-to-end waves, and the first SPLIT COUNTER ROTATE is a LOCKIT, ending in parallel waves. Now reevaluate the formation(!) and do the second SPLIT COUNTER ROTATE from parallel waves (the split gives you two boxes of four). This is one case where SPLIT COUNTER ROTATE ¼ twice is not the same as SPLIT COUNTER ROTATE ½ ;. For the second challenge remember that after SCOOT BACK four dancers can roll and four cannot. So the first SCOOT BACK AND ROLL ends in a t-bone, and for the second everyone must carefully do his or her own part. We finish in a left-handed column (see the diagram -- the first time, only the girls can roll, and the second time, only the boys can).

[Diagram: CHAIN REACTION from 1/4 TAG]

For the rest of this month's column, we'll talk about a call that's dear to the hearts of the Advanced dancers: the A1 call CHAIN REACTION. CHAIN REACTION is perhaps the most misunderstood call on the Advanced list, and one should not underestimate its difficulty. Nearly all the time you'll see it, it will be starting in right-handed quarter tag formation (and it will end in right-handed waves—is it a shape changer?), and most dancers learn to dance it by feel from the standard starting formation. But we're going to look at the definition and the pitfalls, so that we're all able to get through it from some of the more difficult formations.

So what's the definition? (1) Those facing directly, PASS THRU while the ends of the center line COUNTER ROTATE ¼ (walk around the outside). Note that this part leaves two dancers standing still. (2) The dancers who didn't move in the first part HINGE with the dancers who met them. Note that from some formations this might be a PARTNER HINGE, rather than an arm turn. (3) The end pairs of dancers TRADE (this might be a PARTNER TRADE) while the center star turns ¼ (the star might be a facing diamond, in which case you'd do a facing DIAMOND CIRCULATE). (4) Those meeting CAST OFF ¾ while the others move up to the ends of lines. Sometimes the CAST OFF will be a PUSH CAST. The diagram shows the parts of CHAIN REACTION done from the standard starting formation.

Now, the definition might be different than the way you're used to dancing the call. Some teachers teach you to start by EXTENDING to parallel waves and having the centers of the waves HINGE. Banish all such thoughts from your mind, and stay with the definition. The first key to success in CHAIN REACTION is that those dancers who are not supposed to move in part 1 must stand still until someone arrives for them to HINGE with. If they move too soon, then your square will break down from any unusual starting position. Even from the standard right-handed quarter tag formation, make it a habit to wait until it's your turn to move. Once you've gotten past that part, the hard part is over. Be sure to be alert to PARTNER HINGES, PARTNER TRADES, and facing diamonds, and watch out for push casts. But keeping those two dancers from moving too soon is the one most important thing about doing this call, and I can't emphasize it enough. Let's look at a diagram of an unusual CHAIN REACTION. From a squared set, have the sides LEAD RIGHT. All PASS THRU, the centers VEER LEFTwhile the end girls RUN. Here we'll start the CHAIN REACTION with a right-handed two-faced line in the middle, and left-handed miniwaves on the ends. To start the call, the girls, who are facing directly, PASS THRU with each other, while the head boys (at the ends of the center line) COUNTER ROTATE ¼. The side boys do not move. The diagram shows the position at the end of part 1. For the second part, the side boys get to play; they PARTNER HINGE with the side girls, who have just arrived next to them. For part 3, the heads PARTNER TRADE while the sides turn their star X (in this case it's a regular star, not a facing diamond). Finally, the head boys CAST OFF ¾ with the side girls (it's a push cast—she walks forward, he backs up), to end as facing couples, while the others move up to be the ends of three-and-one lines.

[Diagram: CHAIN REACTION from unusual formation]

In the previous example we can see that if the side boys started to move, by turning around or walking forward, before the girls arrived next to them for the HINGE, they would not have been able to do the call. It's very important that you stand still when you're supposed to. Then we had to realize that the HINGE was a PARTNER HINGE, and the others had to wait for the star to form. The ends had to PARTNER TRADE (there's a tendency for someone to want to face the wrong way here, because we're used to trading with an arm turn), and then we had to do a push cast. Any of those steps could have gone wrong, but we're most likely to get through it correctly once we've managed the HINGE. CHAIN REACTION is a very difficult call to do correctly from all positions, and it's all the more difficult because there are times when you must stay put, much as you would like to be moving somewhere. As with all calls, always keep the definition in mind, even when you're doing the standard formation that you know by feel, and you're likely to succeed when it's called in an unusual way.

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