By Carla Roberts
Special to The Pagosa Springs SUN Online
A new, ongoing class at the Ross Aragon Community Center continues every Wednesday evening from 5-7 p.m. Local music and dance teacher Carla Roberts is teaching easy square dance calls at the basic level with an emphasis on having fun. The drop-in class is free to the public and open to all ages and experience levels.
Alyssa Feyen, age 20, is an assistant to the class and had never square danced before.
“It was a blast,” she said. “It’s educational and new and I’m hooked.”
Alyssa is interested in learning the art of calling, and as a musician with a good sense of rhythm (she plays the steel drums of Trinidad), she loves the rhythmic possibilities of square dancing.
About 90 percent of callers today are men, and they are an aging population, with many having 20 to 50 years of experience. As they retire, there is a huge need to replace them with well-trained professionals. Some of the most amazing callers today started as teens.
What is a caller? Today’s modern western square dance caller receives many years of theoretical and experiential training to master the difficult art of calling. With 10,000 approved square dancing figures used in various levels of skill, a caller needs to have a very good memory, as well as good musical skills and the ability to “think on your feet.” A caller learns how to watch the dancers and analyze the floor in “real time,” keeping the dancers entertained and repairing mistakes on the fly.
In our area, square dancing had its heyday in the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s. At one time, Pagosa Springs had three square dance clubs. Other Four Corners communities had clubs with names like the Beaus and Bells, the Shirts and Skirts, or Jeans and Calico. Live callers were scarce, so clubs often danced to recordings.
So, come to town and kick up your heels with caller Carla Roberts every Wednesday evening from 5-7 p.m. at the Ross Aragon Community Center located at 451 Hot Springs Blvd. For more information, call Carla at 903-6478.