What Cuers Do

With the recent flurry of discussion in the OFN concerning the similarities and differences between callers and cuers, the membership of the Oregon Round Dance Teachers Association felt it prudent to present what cuers do both on stage at a Square Dance and behind the scenes. The following is not intended to be an exhaustive list, but a sampling of some of the things that cuers do.

On Stage

Cuers are entertainers in their own right and complement the caller to provide a total entertainment package for the dancers. Whether the caller or the cuer is the "best" entertainer varies from club to club and is largely a matter of personal opinion. It has often been noted that the best Square Dancers are also Round Dancers. Studies in the past have indicated that dancers who both Square and Round Dance stay in the activity longer than dancers who just Square Dance. Many couples continue Round Dancing long after health challenges prevent them from continuing with Square Dancing (In all fairness, there are also couples unable to Round Dance due to health challenges that continue to Square Dance.).

There is a fairly constant flow of new Round Dances, largely through the Round of the Month program. If the Round of the Month is not easy enough for the dancers to dance to cues, the cuer may teach the new dance, typically during pre-rounds.

Behind the Scenes

As has already been discussed in the OFN, cuers have expenses (licenses, insurance, hall rent, music, etc.) and equipment needs similar to callers. With the typical half hour or more of pre-rounds and two rounds between tips, the cuer needs to have 20 or more rounds prepared for an evening's dance. Most cuers have many more than 20 rounds prepared in order to avoid doing the same program dance after dance as well as to honor requests. Preparing these dances requires a lot of time, especially if the cuer uses a laptop computer. It is not unusual for a cuer to spend a half hour or more getting each dance recorded and entering the cues on the computer.

It takes substantial practice in order to properly develop and then deliver cues that are effective and pleasing. To be effective, cues must be delivered at the proper time (neither too soon nor too late), be in terms understood by the dancers, and be delivered clearly and with sufficient volume so they can be easily heard and recognized. To be pleasing, cues should be delivered with good voice quality and diction, with tone in harmony with the music (singing the cues does not help, as the cues tend to blend with the music, making them more difficult to hear and understand), with proper meter, with good balance of voice to music, and with a minimum of words. Each of the 16 rhythms currently listed by ROUNDALAB introduces its own nuances on cue delivery.


Most cuers also teach Round Dance classes, usually self-sponsored. To be truly effective at teaching, many cuers use hash cueing, which is similar to Square Dance patter using Round Dance figures. A reasonable understanding of body mechanics is also useful in order to teach the various techniques necessary to execute round dance figures properly.


Most cuers strive to professionally hold up their end of the caller-cuer team at Square Dances. Most cuers are involved in Square and Round Dancing more for their love of and passion for the activity than for the remuneration they receive.