The Scatter Concept

by Dan Neumann

The call "scatter scoot" is one of the first calls that dancers learn when moving into the challenge programs of square dancing. It is a seemingly simple extension of the call "scoot back" where the lead dancers replace the flip over to their partner's spot (which could be called a "split circulate") with what is typically termed an "all eight circulate". Recently, the call "scatter follow to a diamond" has been introduced where, like scatter scoot, the leads replace "split circulate" with all "eight circulate". Well - if one can call scatter follow to a diamond, then one should also be able to call scatter scoot apart, scatter reach out, etc. Since we now have several calls that scatter can be applied to, scatter seems to be acting like a concept.

The first thing you notice about the currently used examples is that only the leaders are involved in the "scatter" action of the call. Furthermore, they only "scatter" if they are flipping over to their partner's spot. So it might seem that the leaders simply replace split circulate with all eight circulate. However remember the call "scatter scoot reaction." Here the lead dancers don't do an all eight circulate, rather they adopt each other's position in the square. Therefore the essence of the scatter concept is that leaders in a wave exchange places with each other when they would normally do their part of split circulate.


SCATTER is a motion-based concept where the leaders in a wave (or line) who would normally flip over into their partner's space, dance to the spot that the other lead would normally flip into and adopt the identity of that dancer. This can occur anytime during the call and the dancers should "scatter" (so to speak) at each occurrence.

Some consequences of the above definition are:

  1. One must (at least momentarily) have twin waves or twin lines e.g. you can't scatter from columns;

  2. There must be exactly two leads in each wave who are flipping into their partners spot, i.e. it's not enough that you're a leader who is flipping over because the other leader determines the spot you're going to; and

  3. Since it's a motion based concept, it is activated by the motion of flipping over rather than the definition of the call,i.e.the definition need not contain the words "split circulate;" and

  4. Because the the scatterer's adopt each others identities, the ending formation for a scattered call must be identical to that which would have been obtained without scattering.

In order to determine if the scatter concept can be applied to a given call, I suggest that you try to define the call in such a way as to include the words "leads split circulate." While this isn't the definition of the concept, the scatter concept can be applied to most calls which can be redefined in this way.


  1. SCATTER split circulate
    (from twin waves) : This is just the same as all eight circulate.
    (from lines facing out) : It's ambiguous because you have 3 choices of who to trade places with. Therefore it's illegal.

  2. SCATTER chase right
    (from lines facing out) : Belles 1/4 right and roll, then ALL do two all eight circulates.

  3. SCATTER leaders run
    (from twin waves) : Leaders all eight circulate while the trailers do the call normally. Note that the trailers should avoid the temptation to scoot back.

  4. SCATTER split trade circulate
    (from twin inverted lines with ends as leaders) : Trailers do the call normally. Leaders do a cross-over circulate.

I'd like to thank David Schmitz, Lynette Bellini, and Scott Morton for their observations concerning scatter, their insistence that I write this article, and their suggestions for improving it.

Copyright © 1999 Dan Neumann. All Rights Reserved.

Lynette Bellini