[Callers] On teaching Contra Corners to Newbies

Amy Cann ACann at putneyschool.org
Fri May 2 21:49:40 PDT 2008

Two thoughts: if your dancers are not already familiar w/ casting off as a
mid-dance method of progressing, doing that along with contracorners may
be tricky.
A solid teaching dance I often use: 

A1 balance and swing neighbors

A2 long lines into the center and back
     Everybody into the center again - 2's go back out to the line while
the 1s "swap and prep" = switch sides with each other but remain in
center, right hands joined, steeling yourself for the ordeal ahead...

B1 Contracorners
B2 1s balance and swing

Thought two:

The following teaching technique is too talky/teachy for a crowd of
regular dancers mixed with a few beginners, but if you have a homogenous
beginning group that is invested in  learning together it works pretty

*** 1's start in the center facing each other, directly between the twos,
proper, i.e., Man 2 - Man 1 - Lady 1-  Lady - 2, as if you were about to
start a hey.

*** Now, just for practice, to get into the rhythm of it, the 1's
allemande each other by the right in the center then the opposite sex by
the left on the end, then each other by the right again, then back out to
the opposite sex by the left again, and just keep doing that till it
becomes easy... it's as if you were doing a strip-the-willow but were
somehow stuck in place.

The "story line" for the 1s is "You're my partner and I like turning
you... but YOU're pretty cute too..."

*** Now, have all the ones MOVE DOWN ONE COUPLE TO NEW 2s AND TRY IT
AGAIN. The 1s at the bottom will need to dance with ghosts, the 2s at the
top will  wait out.

2s TO TURN, one set above and one set below.

They will realize pretty quickly that they are "sharing" the 2s with the
next sets of 1s. So to make it work out, the rule is LADIES UP FIRST.

The "story line" is "I want to check out both of those other cute 2s, but
I reassure my partner before/inbetween/after that I'm still theirs..."

Like I said, this is talky/teachy and drawn out - but it works very well
in a group of all-beginners.

Good luck!


>Hi Mavis and others,
>      Tomorrow we are having another contra dance 
>here in Christchurch. I'm thinking of trying out 
>contra corners. I'll do a triplet as suggested 
>(probably Corner Triplet by Linda Leslie), and if 
>it goes well may try Chorus Jig in the second half.
>      I'm encouraged by your comments.  Your 
>teaching suggestions about being aware of the
>role the corners play (i.e. being ready with Left 
>hands up, etc) are helpful.
>      Do you have any pointers about helping the 
>dancers handle the end effects?
>For example the actives the last time before 
>coming off, will have some 'ghosts' as corners.
>Neutrals at the bottom, need to swap sides early, 
>as they will partake in contra corners.
>Note: I was planning on using a "modernized" 
>improper version of Chorus Jig, since people here 
>are just getting the hang of improper minor sets. 
>(A Actives down the outside and back, B1: Actives 
>down center, turn as couple, came back and cast 
>down 1 place, C Contra Corners, B2: Active balance 
>and swing (finish facing down))
>Cheers, Bill
>Callers mailing list
>Callers at sharedweight.net

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