Cueing Workshop

Music Structure and Pre-Cueing
Lionel & Janet Crowe, ANSSRDT 2007

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Let us start talking about cueing. To be done properly, a dance should be pre-cued; this is, telling the dancers the next basic to be danced approximately two beats of music before that basic is to be danced. This lets the dancers finish the movement they are doing and gives them time to blend to the next basic. Positions and directions should also be cued; another reason is to give the dancers time to blend or adjust. It is the responsibility of the teacher or cuer to thoroughly know the dance he/she is cueing as to timing, position, direction and sequence and be able to communicate this information to the dancers so they can dance and enjoy the routine. The cuer must be able to make them feel at ease and want to dance. All this should be done with a minimum amount of words so the dancers can also enjoy the music.

We should understand a little about the make-up of music. It can be divided into two parts; the bass notes which denote the rhythm, and the melody which can be described as the tune that is being played. The bass notes can be made by a number of different instruments such as drums, bass fiddle, guitar or piano. The number of beats per minute determine if the music is considered fast or slow. These beats are put into groups which are called measures; the measures in turn are put into groups to suit the melody that is being played. The most common are eight, sixteen or thirty-two measures per group.

Foxtrot, Two-Step, Rumba, Samba, Cha Cha, Tango, Quickstep, Disco Hustle and Jive all have four beats per measure. The first beat in a measure is the heavy or loud beat with the third beat not quite so loud, while the second and fourth beats are quieter.

For the Waltz, the beats are put into groups of three per measure; the first beat is heavy with the second and third beats somewhat lighter. Again the measures are put into groups to suit the melody eight, sixteen or thirty-tow, but there are exceptions. Listen to your records until you can recognize these beats. Then be able to precue so the dancers will start on the first beat of the measure. The melody or phrasing of the music is also important know the music so you can tell when these changes are coming. Some pieces of music feel very awkward if the dance or drill is started not on the first measure of the phrase. This requires study, thought and practice. It is also what makes the difference when you get up in front of your dancers. Knowing your work puts you at ease, which in turn gives the dancers confidence in themselves. When you make a mistake, admit it. Let your dancers have a laugh at you, they never mind an honest mistake.