Circle Left / Circle Right – Definition

Teaching Resource for CIRCLE LEFT / CIRCLE RIGHT

Links:   Standard Analysis Module Teach Other

CALLERLAB Program: Basic Part 1
Teaching order: After Dancer Naming and before Forward and Back
Recently taught calls: (none)

Background: Dancing in a circle has roots in tribal and folk dances of many nations and cultures. Creating a circle and moving in unison is the defining moment when people begin to dance. This call is given in commonly understood English language words.


Minimum number of dancers needed: Two

Starting formation for the minimum number needed: Facing dancers

Case 1: 8 dancers

Command examples:
— Circle Left
— Circle to the Left
— Join Hands, Circle Left
— Circle Right, The Other Way Back
— (while circling left) Reverse, and Circle Right the other way back
— Circle

Dance action: Dancers join hands with adjacent dancers to form a circle and move the circle in the indicated direction, or to the left if no direction was given. The amount to circle may be a specified distance (e.g., Circle Left 1/2 Way) or until the next command is given (e.g., Circle Left … Circle Right).

Ending formation: Infacing Circle of 8. On the command “Stop at Home”, the ending formation is a Squared Set.

Timing: 1/4: 4, 1/2: 8, 3/4: 12, Full: 16

Styling: As dancers join hands (couple handhold) to form a circle, they face slightly left or right as directed. All dancers walk forward with joined hands, elbows bent comfortably so that hands are above the elbow.

Couple handhold in circles: In circles with alternating men and women, men’s palms are up and women’s palms are down. In circles where same genders are adjacent, everyone has the right-hand palm up and the left-hand palm down.

Some regions dance 8-dancer circles with a walking step with no turning motion of the body. Other regions dance 8-dancer circles with a grapevine step, with the body and arms turning left and right, in synchrony with this step, allowing the dancers to make eye contact with their Corners and Partners successively.

Comments: The command “Circle”, without a direction, is a shorthand for Circle Left. It is mainly used in Singing Calls when required by the timing of the lyrics.

When circling, “Reverse” or “Go The Other Way” can be used to tell the dancers to stop and circle in the other direction. It is usually followed with a “Circle Right (or Left)”.

1.b. Case 2: 4 dancers

Starting formation: Facing Couples

Command examples:
— Circle Left 1/2 Way
— Circle Four, 1/2 Way Around
— Circle Right 3/4
— In Groups of 4, Circle Left 3/4 of the Way Around

Dance action: Same as above. When dancing in a circle of 4, the dancers end as the same facing couples rotated by the appropriate amount.

Ending formation: Facing Couples

Timing: 1/2: 4, 3/4: 6, Full: 8

Styling: Same as above. The grapevine step is not recommended in 4-dancer circles.

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1.c. Case 3: 2 dancers

Starting formation: Facing Dancers

Command examples:
— Join 2 Hands and Circle Left Halfway
— Make Circles of 2 and Circle Left Halfway
— With the person in front of you circle 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, or full around
— Allemande Left; Dosado; with your Partner Circle 1/2 and Star Thru
— Head Ladies Step Into The Center and Circle 1/2 With Each Other
— With the one you face, join both hands and circle 1/2, 3/4 or full around

Dance action: Same as above.

Ending formation: Facing Dancers

Timing: 1/2: 4, 3/4: 5

Styling: In a mixed-sex circle, the men dance palms up and the women dance palms down. In a same-sex circle, dancers use right hand palm up, left hand palm down. Some regions always use the latter styling.

Comments: While the concept of circling with 2 or more dancers is part of the Mainstream program, there is no well established terminology. Callers wanting circles of 2 dancers must use terminology familiar to their dancers.
Some callers use the phrase “Single Circle” for circles of 2 dancers (e.g., Single Circle 3/4 to A Star Thru). The phrase “Single Circle” is not explicitly listed and taught at Mainstream so this usage may cause communication problems. In addition, the phrase “Single Circle” is very similar to the call “Single Circle To A Wave” which is part of another dance program. Some callers feel that the use of the term “Single Circle” at Mainstream is improper.

Facing Couple or Ocean Wave Rule: Does not apply.

Link to Taminations: Taminations Circle Left / Circle Right