Supercalls: A new class of concepts

© October 1998 Dan Neumann

Geo's introduction of the ECHO meta-concept has led to an examination of what is meant by the term "concept" in modern challenge square dancing. Recall that a meta-concept is something that modifies the application of a concept. For example, the meta-concept RANDOM tells the dancers that the concept which follows the word "random" must be applied only to the odd parts of the call. However at the Petaluma dance in February, Sue and Linda called things such as "ECHO busy bounce the centers," by which they meant to do a busy bounce the centers and then bounce the centers. Thus "busy" was acting as a concept. And if "busy" can act as a concept for one meta-concept it MUST be able to act as a concept for other meta-concepts, e.g. INITIALLY, as well.

So what is it about busy that makes it seem like a concept? Primarily it comes before and modifies a call by restricting who performs it. In the example of busy bounce the centers, only the original trailing couple does bounce the centers. Whereas if the call were simply bounce the centers, everyone would do it. On the other hand, for a subset of the dancers, busy (anything) is merely a call since (apart from breathing) busy tells them everything they need to know to do their part. Thus Lynette and I dubbed busy and it's relatives "supercalls."

I believe that the essence of a concept is that it modifies a call in some way. For example, the concepts CONCENTRIC or TRIPLE BOX clearly change the way right and left thru is executed. Similarly, a supercall modifies a call by restricting the group that does it. Thus supercalls must be concepts, albeit an entirely new class of concepts. Note that some things that seem like supercalls, e.g. spin the pulley but and trans, have absolutely no effect on the call that comes next. Therefore I submit that these are no more concepts than right and left thru is. And I know that I don't want to hear "FINALLY right and left thru, chisel thru."

In light of these considerations, I believe it's best to be rather conservative in defining exactly what is a supercall i.e. it's better to leave out things that seem like they could have been included rather than to include too much. Therefore I propose that a supercall must have the syntax supercall subsidiary-call and, the subsidiary-call can be executed by only a subset (not all) of the active dancers.

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Lynette Bellini
Thu Oct 29 09:07:18 CST 1998