NEFFA Essay: The “Get Through It Syndrome” Or The Case For A Second Walk-Thru

Larry Jennings

I briefly review some reasons why a caller should strive to make do with a single walk-thru. I then offer some reasons why a second walk-thru may be desirable. I conclude that these latter reasons sometimes outweigh the former. In fact, I might go so far as to assert that there is something wrong with the programming or the teaching if there are not a few dances (out of the entire evening’s program) where the caller is best advised to invoke a second walk-thru.

First the case for a single walk-thru:

  • The caller should never settle for less than the very best words to describe the dance, and he should use all his skills to get the dancers to pay attention to those words without being confrontational. If he anticipates a second walk-thru, he may allow himself to be less well prepared.
  • If the dancers get used to a second walk-thru, the hot-shots will continue socializing during the first walk-thru. This sets a bad example for the beginners and encourages a syndrome of favoring dances that the hot-shots can do with essentially no walk-thru. (They will then develop the habit of not paying attention to the second walk-thru either.)
  • Presumptively, there will be more time for dancing (or authorized socializing) if there is only a single walk-thru.

When, then is a second walk-thru acceptable, or even desirable:

  • If the caller has failed to do the optimum job on the first walk-thru, he should face up to his shortcoming and consider a second walk-thru in order to get a better performance.
  • It may be that the action has some nuance which can be better appreciated by the dancers if they can put it in the context of what comes afterwards. Thus explaning this nuance in a second walk-thru (the dancers then having been exposed to what comes afterwards) may actually be more efficient.
  • End effects are often a case of such “nuance”.
  • It may be that beginners or inattentive “experienced” dancers will get out of position even though the instruction has been excellent. The quickest way to give those dancers their needed walk-thru may be to let them flounder for a quick completion of the first walk-thru and then reincorporating them for a second walk-thru.
  • It may be that a single walk-thru is adequate to get the dancers through the dance, even to look fairly good from the stage. However, it may be that an appreciable fraction of the dancers are not carrying their own weight; they are being carried by the others. Thus the “others” cannot fully concentrate on taking care of themselves nor have a relaxed good time. I assert that such demands on the better dancers are deleterious, or, at least, not salutary, in the long run. Thus I assert that in the case of the most challenging dances of the evening a caller “should” plan a second walk-thru. (I use quotation marks in “should” to indicate “should, in my opinion, ….”)

I refer to these avoidances of a second walk-thru (and perhaps other, similar, short cuts) as the “Get Through It Syndrome”; they may be significant contributors to a deterioration in the quality of dancing.

Lest I be misunderstood, let me be perfectly clear: I feel that a well prepared caller with an interesting, but not over-taxing, program will choose to do a second walk-thru about 1/3 of the time. Of course, that means that about 2/3 of the time there “should” be only one walk-thru, or none.

Scroll to Top