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
— (from Facing Lines) Join 16 hands, Circle to the Left until you get back home

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 (for example, Circle Left 1/2 Way) or until the next command is given (for example, 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.

From Facing Lines, as the movement progresses, the formation smoothly converts to a Circle.

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.

Comments: From Facing Lines, the caller should indicate clearly whether to make one 8-dancer circle, two 4-dancer circles, or four 2-dancer circles.

A wider variety of Command Examples are often used when calling to English-speaking dancers (for example, “Circle up 4, go 3/4 round; Right and Left Thru”).

= = = = = = = = = = = =
1.c. Case 3: 2 dancers

Starting formation: Facing Dancers

Command examples:
— Single Circle Full Around
— Single Circle Left Halfway
— Single Circle Left 1/2; Pass Thru
— Head Ladies Single Circle full around and back out at home
— Those facing join both hands, Single Circle Left three-quarters
— to the Right, Single Circle 3/4
— Heads Square Thru 4; with your Corner Dosado; then Single Circle half, and Star Thru
— Heads Lead Left; Single Circle Right 3/4; Step to a Left-Hand Ocean Wave

Dance action: The facing dancers join both hands and move around the center point between them in the indicated direction, or to the left if no direction was given. The amount to move is specified as a fraction of a full circle (there is no default).

Ending formation: Facing Dancers

Timing: 1/4: 2, 1/2: 4, 3/4: 5, Full: 7

Styling: Dancers join right hand to left hand and left hand to right hand. In the case of a man facing a woman, they join hands with the man holding both palms up and the women holding both palms down. In all other cases, both dancers hold right hand palm up and left hand palm down. Some regions always use the latter styling. At the end of the call, dancers drop hands or adjust the handhold depending on the next call.

Comments: “Single Circle” is a historical name for this action and is consistent with other calls where a larger action is reduced to just two dancers.

A wider variety of Command Examples are often used when calling to English-speaking dancers (for example, “Circle up 2, go halfway round”).

Facing Couple or Ocean Wave Rule: Does not apply.

Link to Taminations: Taminations Circle Left / Circle Right