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General Dance Program

Frequently Asked Questions


Last updated: 26 August 2014

Table of Contents

Is SCVSDA advocating that we teach GDP instead of Plus?

SCVSDA is making GDP available as a new option for teaching and dancing. It is your choice whether to teach new dancers GDP or Plus.

Using GDP instead of Plus as an "entry level" (i.e., as the target for a beginner class) gives you more flexibility, in terms of class timing and structure. You may be able to start classes more frequently, or better address the needs and preferences of different kinds of new dancers. SCVSDA is sponsoring GDP dances throughout the year to support dancers who learn the GDP level through any kind of class, finishing up at any time of the year.

But if you prefer to teach beginners all the way through to Plus in one class, that's OK too. If you are happy with your current class format and schedule, you don't need to change anything.

Our purpose in introducing GDP is to expand the square dance community by helping you get more new dancers to the point where they can be dancing on a regular basis. We want to see more people dancing regularly at a level that is comfortable for them. Whichever approach works better for you to bring in more dancers and get them dancing regularly is fine with us.

Who can offer a GDP class?

Anyone who could teach a Mainstream or Plus class could teach a GDP class. The calls of the GDP list are all taken from the Basic, Mainstream, and Plus lists. There are just fewer of them.

A GDP class could be sponsored by a square dance club, some other square dance organization, or an individual caller. A GDP class could also be sponsored by a parks and recreation department, a college, an adult education program, or any other institution that runs classes.

How long should it take to teach GDP?

There is no one answer to this, because different teaching formats deliver material in different ways and allow more or less opportunity for review and practice, and also because different people can learn at different rates. But we developed GDP with the idea that, for any given teaching style, it could be taught in about half the time as it would take to teach Plus.

If you are currently teaching Plus to beginners in eight months, you should be able to teach GDP, to a similar mix of people, in about four months.

But GDP opens up additional possibilities. If you find that your students are struggling to learn Plus in eight months -- or giving up and dropping out because they can't keep up -- you may find that allowing six months, or even eight months, to teach them GDP works better. You will have this flexibility with GDP because GDP dances will be offered all year round, so whenever your class finishes your students will have a place to start dancing on a regular basis.

On the other hand, if you have a group that would prefer to get started square dancing faster, GDP gives you more flexibility in scheduling for them too. If they are fast learners and you can allocate at least two hours per week for class, you could bring them up to the GDP level more quickly, in less than four months, and let them attend GDP dances for a while, before you schedule another class separately to teach the remaining calls to bring them up to Plus. You might even want to run several GDP classes before scheduling a follow-on class, and then bring all who are ready at that point up to Plus.

Is there a recommended teaching order for GDP?

GDP is a dance level, not a teaching order. GDP includes a list of calls that dancers are expected to know, but as long as they have learned them all by the time they come to a GDP level dance, how they learned them doesn't matter.

You are free to teach the calls of the GDP list in any order that makes sense to you. The order that works best for you may be different from what works best for another instructor. It may also depend somewhat on your class format and schedule.

However, we have developed a collection of sample teaching schedules that you may want to consider for teaching a GDP class. Feel free to make use of them as they are, to modify them as you see fit, or to ignore them.

Again, these are just examples. If you find something else works better for you, that's fine. If you develop a teaching schedule that you would like to share with others, let us know and we can add it to the collection.

GDP doesn't include call X, which I like to use in singing calls - can I use it?

The GDP list is simply the minimum set of calls that dancers should know before they attend a GDP dance. You can teach any other calls you like, for any reason. If you like to use call X, just teach it and use it with your group as much as you want.

GDP doesn't include call Y, which I use to teach other calls - can I teach it?

If you find it convenient to use call Y to teach other calls, you can simply teach it at whatever point you like, and then use it just as you have always done to teach additional calls. Once it has served that purpose, you can either keep reviewing and using it as a separate call, or if you prefer to spend the time on other things you can stop using it.

Should I include "APD" or "DBD" as part of a GDP class?

APD (All Position Dancing) and DBD (Dancing By Definition) do not need to be a part of a GDP class, because dancers attending a GDP dance will only be expected to be familiar with the more common applications of the calls on the GDP list.

Whether you want to also cover less common applications in your teaching and practice is up to you. Some callers have found that emphasizing the definition and showing dancers many different positions actually makes it easier for people to learn certain calls. Others feel that, at least for some kinds of dancers, this limits too much the amount of time available for new people to practice the more common cases.

One approach or the other may also make more sense depending on how soon you expect your new dancers to want to learn Plus. If you expect all or most of them to be learning Plus soon, giving them a more thorough grounding in the fundamentals when you introduce those calls may be more efficient overall. But if your objective is to get people who may not want to learn Plus for a while (if ever) dancing as soon as possible, concentrating on the most common applications may be the better approach.

Of course whatever definitions you use in teaching the calls on the GDP list should be consistent with the CALLERLAB definitions of those same calls as used in full Plus dancing. But dancers at GDP dancers will only be expected to be familiar with approximately what CALLERLAB refers to as "standard applications". So whether you show your new dancers any other cases, and if you do show such cases how much time you spend on practicing them, is your choice.

I have been using the SCVSDA online calls-taught system to track the progress of my Plus classes -- can I do the same for GDP?

Yes, you can use it the same way for your GDP classes.

Could the multi-cycle approach be used with GDP?

Yes, the multi-cycle approach to class scheduling could be used in two different ways with GDP.

First, if the objective of your class is to get new dancers to the GDP level, you could split your class evening into two parts and teach half of GDP in the first part and the rest in the second part. So, taking the sample 24-week teaching schedule as an example, you could start a new group every three months. After three months (12 sessions), the students who had learned those calls well enough would switch to the second part of the evening for another three months (for the remaining 12 sessions). Students who aren't ready for that, perhaps because they missed too many classes, could simply repeat the first part.

Alternatively, a multi-cycle schedule could be used to teach GDP and Plus on a single night of the week. Depending on how many hours you can allocate to each part of the class evening, you might be able to start a new group every four months or every six months. After that many weeks, all the students who had learned all the GDP calls could start attending GDP dances, and those who are interested in going further could also switch to the other part of the night to learn the remaining Basic, Mainstream, and Plus calls.

Could GDP be taught through a "blast class"?

The blast class format is used to teach a motivated group a new level in a very short period of time, by making use of much longer sessions (typically six or seven hours in one day) grouped together very closely (e.g., on the same weekend or adjacent weekends). This is not a method that is appropriate for all kinds of students. But for people who can absorb new material relatively quickly and who find it easier to schedule a few big chunks of time than to commit to attending a class at the same time every week for many months, it can be very effective. And while this approach has been used to teach both Mainstream and Plus, GDP is an even better fit for it because the GDP list is shorter than both Mainstream and Plus.

The best teaching order for a blast class will depend both on the length of each session and how far apart they are spaced, because the more time elapses between sessions the more the students will forget and therefore the more time will be needed for review. We have created a sample teaching schedule for one possible format (three days, broken into two sessions each). Again, this is just an example, which you could modify as you see fit.

Is it possible to teach GDP and Plus at the same time?

Yes. GDP is a subset of Plus. Classes that cover all the calls on the Basic, Mainstream, and Plus lists will automatically also be covering GDP.

If I am already teaching Plus, when will my students be ready to dance GDP?

That depends on your teaching order. If you follow the CALLERLAB recommended teaching orders for Basic, then Mainstream, and then Plus, you will not have covered all the GDP calls until almost the end. This is because one GDP call (Cut the Diamond) is near the end of the CALLERLAB teaching order for Plus.

However, most instructors in this area do not strictly follow the CALLERLAB teaching order. Some teach in a very different order, and some don't follow the same order every year. So the only way to really know is to review your own teaching order.

If I would like my Plus students to be able to attend GDP dances earlier, how could I modify my teaching order?

Generally, the earlier you teach the GDP calls, the sooner your students will be able to attend GDP dances.

The most radical modification would be to teach all the calls on the GDP list first, and then teach the rest of the calls from Basic, Mainstream, and Plus after that. This would allow your students to start attending GDP dances about halfway through your teaching season.

A less radical modification, if you prefer to teach all of Basic before starting Mainstream, and all of Mainstream before teaching Plus, would be to teach the seven Plus calls that are part of GDP before the rest of the Plus calls, as soon as you get done with Mainstream.

But if you are already using a teaching order that covers most of the GDP calls relatively early, it is possible that you could enable your students to start attending GDP dances significantly earlier by moving just a few calls to an earlier point in your teaching order.

Can I make use of the SCVSDA online calls-taught checklist to see which calls my students still need to learn before they can dance GDP?

Yes, you can limit the checklist display to the GDP list by adding the "l=G" parameter to the URL. For example, if your class code is xyz2014, you could use the URL "http://www.scvsda.org/cgi-bin/classinfo.cgi?o=multi&l=G&c=xyz2014". You can check the progress of several classes at the same time the same way as always, by including multiple class codes after the "c=", separated by commas.

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