A Name To Setups: FASR

Edited version of  Rich Reel's FASR-page



In order to resolve the square - i.e. get everyone back to their corner or partner in the correct order - there are several important details about the square that callers must recognize and manipulate.   For each of these details, there is a standardized term, approved by Callerlab, which allows callers to communicate this information with other callers.   The most essential terms are: Formation, Arrangement, Sequence, and Relationship.   These four are often referred to collectively as 'FASR'.   Be aware that some older publications refer to these same terms in a different order or with slightly different names. Read more about it in the article "Other Names For Setups".   A few additional terms are important and they are explained later below.

Quick Overview of FASR   ( click links for more detailed explanations )

  • Formation   The pattern of spots on the floor for dancers and dancer facing direction at each spot.   Examples include Lines, Column, Tidal Wave, Squared Set.   The number of possible formations is nearly unlimited although there are perhaps 2 to 3 dozen formations common at Mainstream and Plus.
  • Arrangement   Which positions within the formation are occupied by boys, and which by girls.   There are 6 possible arrangements.   Examples include Normal, Sashayed, #1, BBGG.
  • Sequence   The order of the boys and the girls around the formation in a C.C.W. direction.   There are 4 sequence states:   Girls & Boys in sequence,   Girls & Boys out of sequence,   Girls in - Boys out,   Girls out - Boys in.
  • Relationship   Which one of the 4 girls is adjacent to a reference boy dancer.   There are 4 relationships:   Reference boy adjacent to his partner, his corner, his opposite girl, or his right-hand girl.

FASR Notation

FASR notation has 4 parts that always appear in this specific order: Arrangement Formation Sequence Relationship:

[ 0 L 1 p ]   means

  • 0    Arrangement (BGBG)
  • L    Formation is a Line
  • 1    Sequence: "1" = boys IN, girls IN Sequence
  • p    Relationship: reference boy with his partner  


    The formation specifies two things....

    • Where dancers are standing on the floor relative to each other
    • Which direction each of the dancers is facing relative to the others
    Many formations are named for easy identification.   Examples include Facing Lines, Waves, Double Pass Thru, and Diamonds.   Callerlab uses a single letter to designate some of the most common formations.  

    Formation Letter Designations

      [B]      "Box" 8 Chain Thru
      [C]      Column
      [D]      Diamonds
      [F]      2 Face Lines
      [L]      Facing Lines
      [M]      Completed Double Pass Thru
      [P]      (Beginning) Double Pass Thru
      [Q]      (One) Quarter Tag formation
      [R]      Three Quarter Tag formation
      [S]      Squared Set (Static Square)
      [T]      Trade By
      [W]      Parallel Waves

    Rich Reel's Formation Diagrams



    Arrangement is where the boys and girls are within the formation.   When the arrangement is symmetric (which is usually the case), there can only be 2 boys and 2 girls at one time in any half of the square.   Symmetry says the other half will be a mirror image copy of the first half.

    In half of a square, there are only 6 possible ways to arrange 2 boys and 2 girls into 4 positions.   As an example we use one wave - half of parallel waves or a tidal wave. . . .


    These 6 ways to arrange the boys and girls translate to the 6 Callerlab arrangement states: 0, 1/2, 1, 2, 3, and 4. Callerlab assigns these numbers to the 6 arrangements for every formation. While there are general trends for assigning numbers to arrangement (see below), the assignment depends on the specific formation.  


    Key to Sex Arrangement Notation / General Trends

    The arrangement number immediately precedes the formation letter(s).
    X = formation (one or two letters as described above)...
    [0X] everyone in Normal/Standard sex arrangement
    (Boy on the left, Girl on the right)
    [5X] (0.5 = 1/2 = half) everyone in Sashayed sex arrangement
    (Girl on the left, Boy on the right)
    [1X] (one) typically boys on or toward the outside
    [2X] (two) typically girls on or toward the outside
    [3X] (three) typically Normal/Standard on or toward the outside
    [4X] (four) typically Sashayed on or toward the outside
    [1/2X] Older notation for "half" (sashayed) arrangement.
    See [5X]

           Example:   [5B] = Sashayed 8 Chain Thru formation
    • Note: 'typically' means 'not always' - See  Rich Reel's Arrangement Diagrams
    • In a wave, Rear Back to facing couples to evaluate arrangement (and sequence and relationship)

    Rich Reel's Arrangement Diagrams



    Sequence is the order of boys and the order of the girls going around the formation in promenade direction (C.C.W.).   This is what is needed to know if the dancers are in the right order to call a correct AL, RLG, or Prom, etc.

    Sequence is denoted by a number 1...4:

      1 ... both Boys and Girls are "in sequence"
      2 ... both Boys and Girls are "out of sequence"
      3 ... Boys are "in sequence", Girls are "out of sequence"
      4 ... Boys are "out of sequence", Girls are "in sequence"


    How to determine sequence

    • Draw a line from one boy to the next around the formation (typically a rectangular 2X4 formation) in such a way that the line connects all the boys just once, and does not intersect itself.   i.e. The boys should be connected in a way that looks more like an "O" than an "8".
    • Move along this line in promenade direction (C.C.W.), starting with the #1 boy
    • If you encounter the boys in this order: #1, #2, #3, #4, the sequence state for the boys is "in sequence"
    • If you encounter the boys in this order: #1, #4, #3, #2, the sequence state for the boys is "out of sequence"
    • If you encounter the boys in any other order, the sequence is not symmetric (i.e. asymmetric)
    • Do the same for the girls
    Note: If you can connect same sex dancers in more than one unique way (e.g. in a Tidal Wave [TW] or 1/4 Tag Formation with all boys or all girls in the center wave [1Q] [2Q]) then have any dancers in a wave Rear Back and determine sequence from the resulting formation


    Sequence and Sequence Symmetry

    Let's arbitrarily choose a formation and an arrangement and then let same sex dancers mill around and randomly exchange places with other same-sex dancers.   The boys must end up in one of the 4 boy "spots" and the girls must end up in one of the 4 girl "spots" in our formation.   This sort of swapping can only affect sequence and sequence symmetry.

    When the sequence is symmetric, knowing were one boy is automatically establishes where his opposite is - diagonally across the square, equidistant from the flagpole center of the square.   That leaves 2 boys and 2 boy spots.   Since these 2 boys could only possibly switch with each other, there can be only 2 ways to sequence the boys.   One is C.W. from the first Boy, the other is C.C.W from him.   The same is true of the girls.

    There are only these 2 possible sequence states for each of the sexes when the sequence is symmetric:

      1-2-3-4   or   4-3-2-1   (going C.C.W around the formation)

    Note that all of the following have the same sequence...

      1-2-3-4   (start with #1)
      2-3-4-1   (same sequence - start with #2)
    ...and all the following have the same sequence, only different from above...
    Other orders are possible, but these are asymmetric, i.e. the sequence is not symmetric.

    Here are just a few examples of asymmetric sequence...

    If the sequence is symmetric, then dancers 1 and 3 will be across the square from each other, as will dancers 2 and 4.   i.e. They will never be next to each other as connected by that line used to determine sequence.




    Relationship is how the boy sequence is related to the girl sequence -or- how a reference dancer is positioned relative to his or her partner.

    Once the formation, arrangement, and sequence are specified, there is yet another piece of information we will need before we can call an AL or RLG.   That is Relationship.   The simplest way to illustrate this is to start with a squared set and have everyone Join Hands and Circle To The Left.   Each boy has his partner girl to his right.   Now call Put The Ladies In And The Men Sashay.   Notice that the formation is still a circle, the arrangement is still alternating B, G, B, G, etc., and both the boys and girls are "in sequence" (1, 2, 3, 4 going around the ring in promenade direction).   But each boy no longer has his partner girl to his right.   What changed was the relationship the dancers have with their partners.

    There are 4 relationships denoted by the letters p, c, o, r...

      p ... Reference boy adjacent to his partner
      c ... Reference boy adjacent to his corner
      o ... Reference boy adjacent to his opposite girl
      r ... Reference boy adjacent to his right-hand girl
    If we were to call Put The Ladies In And The Men Sashay a total of 4 times, we would rotate through all 4 relationship states and every boy would again have his partner to his right.


    What is a reference boy?

    The reference boy is the boy dancer of the reference pair.   The reference pair is comprised of 2 opposite sex dancers in the formation that we will use to determine how the boy sequence is related to the girl sequence.   This will determine which of the 4 relationships we have.   It is somewhat arbitrary which dancers we choose for the reference pair and it unfortunately makes a definite difference, affecting which letter (p, c, o, r) gets assigned, especially in sequence states 3 and 4 where one of the boys may have his partner while the other has opposite girl.   It is important that reference dancers be chosen based on positions within a formation, rather than by any one specific dancer through the tip, otherwise Relationship will depend on the Sequence, and we do not want that.   [Note from the editor: It is another advantage of the formation based choice of reference dancers that setups of the same technical value have the same Notation. Concerning to that from a [B4o] we know that the Getout "Square Thru 2, Wheel And Deal,Pass Thru AL" works correctly. If we choose i. e. boy #1 as the reference boy in any formation, we would need the extra information where in the formation (inside/outside) that boy is situated. GT]


    Which is the reference pair?

    This is still a topic of debate in Callerlab committee meetings.   There are convenient choices one can make, but ultimately the choice is somewhat arbitrary.   What has been agreed upon is which dancers make up the reference pair (the reference boy and the one girl he is adjacent to for purposes of establishing the relationship) in 4 formations with standard sex arrangement only: [L], [B], [F], and [W].
    Facing Lines [0L] ... The Left-hand couple
    Box / 8 Chain Thru [0B] ... Outside boy and dancer (girl) he is facing
    R-H 2 Face Lines [0F] ... The trailing couple
    Parallel R-H Waves [0W] ... The in facing end (boy) and adjacent dancer (girl)


    Reference Pair shown in RED

    Lines Box / 8-Chain 2-Face Lines R-H Waves
    B> <g B> b> B> b>
    G> <b B> <G b> <g G> g> <G <g
    b> <G g> <b G> <B <g <G g> G>
    g> <B <b <B <b <B



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    last Update: 10.11.1999

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