Square Dance Study Hints


1. Study the Definition

As with any call in Challenge dancing, the first important step is to understand the definition. But Plenty is an especially good example of a call where you really need to understand the definition as a distinct sequence of actions, because it is a call to which the "Replace" and Interrupt" modifiers are very frequently applied.

Here is Vic Ceder's definition page:

Read the definition itself, at the top, and also the notes.

2. Understanding the Modifiers

It is very helpful to think of Plenty as consisting of a sequence of three parts:

These parts are not usually referred to by number. Instead, the middle part is typically referrred to by its action, either as "the circulates" or "the star turns", and the Interrupt or Replace modifier will be stated in reference to that.

"Replace the circulates with X" means don't do the circulates -- instead do X. So the whole sequence of actions becomes:

"Interupt before the circulates with X" means do both X and the circulates, in that order:

"Interrupt after the circulates with X" also means do both, but in the other order:

There are other possibilities, but those are the most common patterns.

These kinds of modifications make Plenty harder to do in two different ways. The obvious way is that you have to pay careful attention to the exact words that the caller says, and remember them as you are doing the call.

The more subtle issue is that the action that replaces or is added to the split circulates may change the formation. Typically (but not always) the Little will put you into parallel waves. But the "X" might change parallel right-handed waves into parallel left-handed waves. It might change waves into two-faced lines, or columns. There are some even weirder possibilities. You need to be prepared to do the remaining parts of the call from this new formation -- one which you may have never expected at the beginning of the call.

3. The Beginning

Plenty starts with Little. There is of course also Scoot and Plenty, which like Scoot and Little starts from a 1/4 tag formation. But just plain Plenty can start from a variety of formations, because just plain Little can start from a variety of formations.

Some points to keep in mind:

4. The Split Circulates

If the Little leaves you in parallel waves, and there isn't anything else inserted before the two Split Circulates, then it will be rare for anyone to have a problem with this part. But you must be prepared for other possibilities. The more comfortable you are doing Split Circulate on your own, without help, the better prepared you will be to face these possibilities, including helping other people who may be less well-prepared.

Note that if the Little leaves you in parallel two-faced lines, or if another call inserted between the Little and this part leaves you in two-faced lines, you can still do two Split Circulates without a problem, even though doing just one Split Circulate would be a problem. Don't try to do one Split Circulate and then another Split Circulate -- just go two spots in your box.

Note also that if each person circulates two spots in a box, there can never be a "crash", because each dancer will end up in the diagonally opposite position from where he/she started. Every dancer will also have turned around exactly 180 degrees in the process. These things are true even if the dancers start t-boned. If the formation is one from which you are not used to doing two Split Circulates, just concentrate on going two spots in your box. If everybody does that, everybody should end up in the right place.

The caller may also specify a different number of Split Circulates, or say something like "turn the star 3/4" (which means the same thing as doing three Split Circulates). In these cases, just circulate the appropriate number of spots within your box.

5. The Final Action for the Centers

First, notice that the final action for the centers and the final action for the ends are completely independent of each other. Of course the first thing you must know is whether you are in the center. But once you have determined that, just concentrate on doing the action for the centers. Don't worry about what the ends are doing, and don't expect them to wind up in any particular relation to you. They might be t-boned to you -- don't let that bother you!

The final action for the centers is usually described as "1/2 Zoom". If you are in a typical mini-wave box, that should present no problems.

If you tried to do 1/2 of a Zoom from facing couples, you would crash trying to walk forward, as if you were stepping to a wave. So in this case just step to a wave.

If you tried to do 1/2 of a Zoom from back to back couples, you would crash trying to walk around to take the place of the person behind you. So in this case just do that -- turn around, away from your partner, and step to a wave.

6. The Final Action for the Ends

You must be prepared to Counter Rotate and Roll as the end of a 2x4, regardless of which way you are facing. Here are some examples -- in each case of a Counter Rotate 1/4 followed by a Roll. If you find any of these examples mystifying, that means that you don't understand Counter Rotate -- so go back and study that.

7. Explore Some of the Possibilities

You can use the Taminations page to explore the most common possibilities. Follow the action for each of the starting positions shown. For each of those, you could start in any one of four positions. (These positions are represented in the animations by the head boy, head girl, side boy, and side girl -- but in actual dancing you could be in any of these positions.) Use the manual scrolling feature of the Taminations page to run through each of these possibilities and watch what happens to you.