Once a year, renowned national square dance caller Mike Sikorsky stops in the Northwest.
This year, Sikorsky will be calling for the Prairie Shufflers at an April 7 dance at the Shufflers Shanty, 717 N. Irving St., Kennewick.
Dance time is 7 p.m. Riding shotgun with Sikorsky will be favorite Tri-City cuer Bill Holm. The event is open to all ages. Admission is $8 at the door.
There's a very good reason square and round dancers need a caller and cuer, said Jane Daugherty with Prairie Shufflers.
It's sort of like playing a musical version of Simon Says, though Sikorsky says the caller is more like a prompter who simply reminds the dancers what is coming next.
The cuer does pretty much the same thing only for round dancing instead of square dancing. The Prairie Shufflers perform both types of dances at their events.
"The dancers know how to do all the moves that work well together," Daugherty said. "But the caller chooses the sequence. In fact, very experienced dancers will often do what they think comes next and then we have to hurry to be in the correct positions when the caller chooses a different sequence."
Sikorsky is no ordinary dance caller, she added.
"He's tall and thin and walks around the floor gyrating as he's calling. I'd call it an Elvis wiggle," Daugherty said. "It's almost as much fun to watch him as it is to dance."
Sikorsky of Mesa, Ariz., got into dance calling as a teenager.
"I first learned to square dance at age 15," he said via e-mail. "At age 17, I called my first full square dance, and by 1975 I was making enough money to put myself through college."
He also has been nominated for most entertaining caller for the Square Dance Callers Awards Show, to be held April 16 in Las Vegas.
He said he keeps moving when he's calling because he's having such a good time.
As for Holm, there's more to talent than meets the eye, Daugherty said.
"Bill is a very special man; he always brings the doughnuts I like to our dances" she joked.
On a more serious note, she said, "Bill has cued for 35 years or so and was also a caller. He works with Mike throughout the country quite often. And he's a pleasure to listen to."
The Prairie Shufflers dance group was organized 56 years ago when square dancing was in its heyday.
"There were so many dance clubs in the Tri-Cities back then," Daugherty said. "The perception of square dancing is puffy skirts and no young people. The reality is that I don't own a puffy skirt. I wear prairie skirts and sometimes I even wear pants."
And the age of the participants is just half right.
"The Walla Walla club has lots of preteens, and they dance very well," she said. "And I understand the Moses Lake club also has a lot of children. Unfortunately, we can't get young people interested in square dancing for very long. A few might come out to the lessons, but they don't stay, so we're mostly a 50 and older group."
But the Shufflers hope the few young people who do discover how much fun square dancing can be will encourage others to follow.
And it's the friendships made along the way that keep the love of dancing alive, she said.
For more information about the Prairie Shufflers, call Daugherty at 582-0780.