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Jack McKay Folk Dance Federation of California, South, Inc.

Square Dance Shorthand
By Jack McKay


In square dance, as in any other field, shorthand is designed to reduce a large quantity of material to a small easily handled form as rapidly as possible. A square dance caller needs shorthand form for four principal reasons:

  1. to assist in square dance analysis,
  2. to assist in square dance diagramming,
  3. to assist in memorizing new figures, and
  4. to refresh his memory quickly.


All Around
All Eight Chain
Alemande
Alemande Thar
Around One
Around Two
Around Three
Back Track
Box the Gnat
Box the Flea
California Twirl
Cast Off
Catch All Eight
Center
Chain
Circle
Circle Left
Circle Right
Circle Half
Circle Eight
Circle Four
Circle Three
Circle ¾'ers
Corner
Couple
Cross Trail
Divide
Dixie
Docey-Doe
Do-Pas-O
Do-Sa-Do
Double Pass Through      
Duck
Elbow
End
Face
Grand Right and Left
Half Sashay
Hand
Head
Lady
Left
Line
Man
Opposite
Partner
Pass Through
Promenade
Re-Shashay
Right
Right and Left Through
Roll Back
See Saw
Side
Square Through
Star
Swing
Turn Back
U-turn
Wagon Wheel
Wheel Around
Weave the Ring
Whirl Away
aa
All 8/c
A
A/Th
/1
/2
/3
BT
BG
BF
CT
CO
Catch 8
⦿
c



 ½⃝



 ¾⃝
Cr
Cp
XT
DIVISION SIGN
Dx
Docy
Dpso
dsdo
DPT
D
e
E
F
GR R/L
½s
h
H
L
I
__
M
Opp
Ptnr
PT
Pr
R1/.2s
r
r&l
R/B
SS
S
T
 *
Sw
TB
UT
W*
  *

w/a

For an example, let's look at a square in original form, and then see the same figures in shorthand.

GNAT ALLEMANDE
One and three bow and swing
Chain your gal to the right of the ring
All four ladies chain across
Turn them around, don't get lost
New head ladies chain to the right
Turn them boys, don't take all night
One and three half sashay
Into the center and back that way
Pass through and around two
While the sides couples half sashay
Forward eight and eight fall back
Right and left through across the track
Forward eight and eight fall back
With the opposite Box the Gnat
Lady on the left, left allemande. (Etc.)

GNAT ALLEMANDE
1 & 3 Lc-r
4 Lc
New 1&3 Lc-r
H ½s
S ½s____4
r&l   BG
a/1


Square dance shorthand is designed as a memory aid, not as a replacement for work in preparing to call. Try it and I am sure you will find a handy "Tool of the Trade."