[Callers] Preparing and Dancing

Peter Amidon peter at amidonmusic.com
Tue Jul 4 02:36:20 PDT 2006

>Hi all,
>I have just come back from a wonderful caller's workshop and have gotten
>addicted to having other caller's to talk to.  So I have two questions for
>you. First, how do you prepare for an upcoming evening of calling? I am
>wondering how you prepare AFTER you have selected the dances and programmed
>the evening.

Good questions.

I work continuously on memorizing my repertoire of dances,
so, generally, the dances I choose for an evening are
already memorized.  Any 'new' (that is, unmemorized')
dances I memorize after choosing them and before the
dance.  If I have time I call and 'solo dance' the
whole program to music in an empty room.  This is
both to help drill the dances in my head, and to make
sure the succession of dances works well.  Sometimes I
call all the dances in the car to music while driving
to the gig.

At the dance itself I review the dance silently in my head
after dancers have lined up and before I start the walk through.
While the dance is going, once the dancers are on their
own, I practice calling (in my head or off mic) the next dance.

I memorize new dances by going for walks with an iPod of
dance tunes and a list of a few dances I am learning.

I drill dances already in my repertoire by periodically
going for an iPod walk and the list of dances in my
repertoire and calling each of them from memory
from just the title.

My goal is to see the title of a dance, say Mary Cay's
Reel, and to be able to immediately say: 'Becket:
circle left three quarters, pass through, allemande
left the one you meet . . . '  etc.

One of the ways of making this a more pleasant task is
to have a good collection of recordings of straight ahead
contra dance jigs and reels to practice to.  Great Meadow
Music (www.greatmeadowmusic.com) has put out some great
CD's of straight ahead contra dance music; I would
particularly recommend 'Green Mountain' and 'Full Swing'.

New England Dancing Masters (that's Andy Davis, Mary Cay
Brass, Mary Alice Amidon and me) have put out two great
CD's of straight ahead contra dance music: Assembly's
'Other Side of the Tracks' and Andy Davis/Keith Murphy/
Becky Tracy's 'Any Jig or Reel': www.dancingmasters.com


Peter Amidon
Peter Amidon
peter at amidonmusic.com
20 Willow Street
Brattleboro, VT 05301
cell: 917-922-5462

More information about the Callers mailing list