Circulate Family

In general, all Circulates have each dancer move forward along a defined path (called the "circulate path") to the next dancer position. The definitions below will refer to the following diagrams.

Starting formations Waves, Columns, Lines, Two-Faced Lines.
Dance action

Directed (active) dancers move forward along the circulate path to the next position. The circulate paths for various formations are indicated by the dotted lines in the diagrams.

  1. (NAMED DANCERS) CIRCULATE: Boys, Girls, Centers or Ends circulate.
  2. ALL 8 CIRCULATE: Dancers in a column follow the column circulate path. Dancers in a wave or line follow the wave or line circulate path.
  3. COUPLES CIRCULATE: Each couple, working as a unit, moves forward along the Couples Circulate path.
  4. SINGLE FILE CIRCULATE: Each dancer moves forward along the Column Circulate path.
  5. SPLIT CIRCULATE: The formation is divided into two separate boxes. Dancers move forward along their own Box Circulate path.
  6. BOX CIRCULATE: Each dancer moves forward along the Box Circulate path.
Ending formation Same as starting formation.
Timing Single File Circulate, 2; all other circulates, 4
Styling Use normal couple handholds when doing a Couples Circulate. Arms should be held in natural dance position and ready to assume appropriate position for the next call.
Teaching Tip Make sure the dancers understand that they are following a path to a position which another dancer has vacated.

No call in the Circulate Family can be used with the Ocean Wave Rule or the Facing Couples Rule (see "Part 1: General: Conventions and Rule").

Fractions are proper and occasionally used with calls in the Circulate family. See "Part 4: Additional Detail: Fractions".

The timing for all Circulates is 4, but if the Circulate has the effect of a Pass Thru, the timing is 2.

The various types of Circulates and various ways to name them are described in detail in the following sections.

(Named Dancers) Circulate

Starting formations General Lines (e.g., Ocean Waves, Two-Faced Lines), General Columns
Command examples

Centers (or Ends) Circulate

Girls (or Boys) Circulate

Everyone Circulate

Circulate

Dance action

Designated dancers move forward to the next dancer position, following their General Lines or General Column circulate path.

A dancer looking out of the formation walks in a 180-degree arc and finishes in the next position on the other side, looking in. Others walk forward one dancer position.

Ending formationsGeneral Lines, General Columns
Styling Arms should be held in natural dance position and ready to assume appropriate position for the next call
Comments

The call "(Named Dancers) Circulate" is usually used from General Lines.

When all dancers are active (e.g., Everyone Circulate), the comments in All 8 Circulate also apply.

Circulate is the same as Everyone Circulate, unless it is clear from the previous call that only certain dancers are active (e.g., Dive Thru, Centers Touch 1/4 and Circulate).

Not all dancers on a given circulate path need to go in the same direction. Dancers going in opposite directions along the same path will pass right shoulders. (See "Part 1: General: Conventions and Rules: Passing Rule".)

(Named Dancers) Circulate is sometimes used more generally with unusual formations. Each dancer walks forward in a smooth path to the next dancer position. For example:

  • Ocean Waves: Split Circulate 1 1/2, Center Wave Swing Thru, Others Circulate
  • Two-Faced Lines: Centers Hinge, Outside 6 Circulate, Centers Hinge
  • Columns: Circulate 1 1/2, Center 6 Circulate 1 1/2, Center 4 Walk And Dodge, Others Bend The Line
  • Facing Lines: Outsides Touch 1/4, Centers Pass the Ocean, Outside 6 Circulate
  • Tidal Wave: Center 4 Hinge, Same Ones Circulate (or use Box Circulate)
It is improper for (Named Dancers) Circulate to cause a circulating dancer to end on the same spot as an inactive dancer, e.g., from Columns, Ends Circulate. From Columns, "Centers Circulate" is only proper if the caller makes it clear that the dancers must stay in the center, e.g., "Boys work in the center and Circulate". Box Circulate could instead be used, e.g., “Centers Box Circulate”.

Couples Circulate

Starting formation Two-Faced Lines
Command example Couples Circulate
Dance action Each couple works as a unit to move forward to the next position, following the General Box circulate path (see above). Example:

Ending formation Two-Faced Lines
Styling All dancers maintain a couple handhold for Couples Circulate. Couples traveling the shorter distance should adjust with shorter steps to coincide with those traveling the longer distance. Those traveling the longer distance should not rush. Arms should be held in natural dance position and ready to assume appropriate position for the next call.

All 8 Circulate

Starting formations General Lines (e.g., Ocean Waves, Two-Faced Lines), General Columns
Command example All 8 Circulate
Dance action All dancers Circulate.
Ending formations General Lines, General Columns. Same as starting formation from Ocean Waves, Two-Faced Lines, and Columns.
Styling Same as for (Named Dancers) Circulate
Comments

It is improper to teach that All 8 Circulate always means "ends stay ends and centers stay centers". This statement is true from Ocean Waves and Two-Faced Lines, but not from Columns.

From Two-Faced Lines, Couples Circulate is a more common way to call All 8 Circulate. From Columns, Single File Circulate is the same as All 8 Circulate.

When dancers go in opposite directions along the same path, All 8 Circulate is often equivalent to other calls (e.g., Pass Thru or Trade By). These applications are proper, but confusing to many dancers. Except in an instructional setting, they are often perceived as attempts to trick the dancers and should probably be avoided. On the other hand, All 8 Circulate from Three And One Lines is acceptable, though still difficult and uncommon at Mainstream.

Single File Circulate

Starting formation Columns Only
Command examples

Circulate

Column Circulate

Single File Circulate

Dance action All dancers Circulate
Ending formationColumns
Styling Same as for (Named Dancers) Circulate

Box / Split Circulate

Box Circulate and Split Circulate, while similar, are covered in two separate cases.

Box Circulate

Starting formationBox Circulate
Command examples

Heads Touch 1/4; Heads Box Circulate

Centers Box Circulate

Pass To The Center; Centers Touch 1/4 and Box Circulate

Dance action Each dancer moves forward to the next position, following the General Box circulate path (see above).
Ending formationBox Circulate
StylingSame as for (Named Dancers) Circulate
Comments

Box Circulate is proper only after specifying a group of four dancers or, rarely, groups of four dancers. For example, one could say "On each side Box Circulate" but "Split Circulate" would be more common and preferred.

Once dancers in a Box Circulate formation are identified, Box Circulate and Circulate are the same, and many callers will say only "Circulate".

Split Circulate

Starting formations General Lines (e.g., Ocean Waves), General Columns
Command exampleSplit Circulate
Dance action Divide ("split") the formation in half. Dancers in each half move forward to the next position, following the General Box circulate path (see above). Examples:

Ending formations General Lines, General Columns. Same as starting formation from Ocean Waves and Columns.
StylingSame as for (Named Dancers) Circulate