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Calling all callers

NIAGARA FALLS -- Square dancing aficionados from around the country and even world have gathered in Niagara Falls today to kick off the 37th Annual Callerlab Convention.

Callerlab is an international association of square dance callers who share an interest in preserving and promoting square dancing and Sunday afternoon was all about do-si-doing and promenading to the beat at the Niagara Falls Conference Center. 

"Most of the time what we do here, while it's an education experience, it's a way to help further your education and background of [square dancing]," said Callerlab committee member Tim Marriner. "It also kind of re-energizes your batteries."

The opening event of the convention featured a "Beginning Leadership Seminar," which teaches and trains the dancers on difference steps and calls. Almost every dancer participating Sunday was also a caller.

"They are learning how to do basic, fundamental dances," said Marriner. "It's just a way to introduce folk to the activity."

It's also a good way to promote healthy activity, said Jerry Helt of Cincinnati, Ohio.

"As a square dancer I'm very much into recreation, into bodybuilding, moving, music," said Helt. "and we're a non-alcoholic, non-smoking organization."

Helt says one of the benefits of square dancing is that anyone can do it.

"It's for all ages from young people, young kids, to older people, the retired," he said. "We have that cross section who are dancing."

The four-day event, which this year is called, "Explore the Roar," features committee meetings, interest sessions for callers and dancers to share ideas, panels of callers sharing knowledge and personal experiences, and social time for callers and dancers who enjoy their once-a-year gathering.

Here's a video of the convention's kick-off event:

---Lauren Nicole Mariacher

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