[Callers] Calling medleys for the first time

Linda Mrosko elmerosko at gmail.com
Tue Dec 28 17:33:40 PST 2010

Good advance.  I believe 5 callers will work just as well as 6, calling each
dance 5x through.  If you're just calling it yourself, 2-3 dances work just
fine.  If you are mixing Improper w/Becket, I recommend you put the Becket

When I was still a rather "green" caller at a dance weekend, I was asked to
call dance #4.  Dance #1 & 2 went well, but the caller for dance #3 didn't
study his dance and had the dancers do a long swing instead of a short
swing, so we were instantly off the music.  I knew what was happening
because I was watching the dance that caller #3 was screwing up and thought
I could fix it.  About halfway through his turn, he realized he had been
calling the swing wrong and tried to "fix" it.  I was instantly lost on how
to correct the problem and the experienced caller leading this caller
challenge wasn't much help.  It helps to have an experienced leader listen
to the calling "as well as" the tunes to help correct mistakes like this.

On Tue, Dec 28, 2010 at 1:12 PM, Lisa Greenleaf <laleaf at verizon.net> wrote:

> I'm sending along my modified guidelines for the New England Folk Festival
> medleys,
> which are comprised of 6 dances done 6 times through each (the last is done
> either 5 or 7).  The 21 minute medley was originated at Neffa by caller
> Susan Elberger.
> --Lisa Greenleaf
> Neffa Contra Medley reminders
> 1.  You need to have 6 callers, one for each dance.  We’ve found that it’s
> best to have 3 women and 3 men alternating, so that there is good vocal
> distinction between callers.  The callers need to be competent in this
> format.  In years past, some callers have frozen or have not worked out
> their word choices to fit the format. You can have only 3 or 4 callers
> if you space them in such a way that each dance is called by a
> 'distinctly difernt voice.
> 2.  If you are choreographing as a group, remember to strive for flow from
> one dance to the next.  It’s OK to give the last round of one of the dances
> a different ending so that it can go into the next dance (ie you can
> manipulate the last round so you can go from proper to improper or improper
> to Becket), but please do this gimmick only once in the medley.  There are
> no walk throughs, so complex sequences are not appropriate.
> Just the fact that the medley is a half hour of non-stop dancing is a
> thrill
> for most folks, although they do enjoy mastering the transitions from one
> dance to the other.
> 3.  Send a draft of the medley to your callers and any advisors.
>  Once you receive approval on your sequences,
> send out the medley to your callers. Ask them which dances
> they would feel comfortable calling.
> 4. Assign dances to the callers. Remind callers of the no-walk thru format
> and
> advise them to writeout their cues ahead of time, paying attention to
> timing.  The first time
> through the dance the calls must come extra early!
> 5.  Consult with your band leader for tune selection.  The band will play a
> total of 6 tunes, each 6 times through (the last dance is either 5 or 7
> times).  it can often be effective to mix jigs and reels, but this depends
> on the dances and on the band.  In general, you do want to work towards a
> climax by the last dance.  However, bands need to be aware that
> when they change tunes, the dancers really have to
> be able to hear the caller, so this is not the time for the horn or drum
> section (!) to
> play loudly. There may be time for a waltz, so make sure the
> band is ready for it; it will probably be very short.
> 6.  Make sure your performers know where to meet you and at what time.
>  Have
> extra copies of the medley available.
> 7.  Talk with the sound man before you go on.  It may be helpful to list
> the
> callers in order of appearance and make notes about soft voices.
> Our sound guys have done this before, so they're usually prepared, but
> it never hurts to check.
> 8.  As the sets are forming, remind the dancers that the session is rated X
> for expereinced, the dances will not be taught and that they will keep the
> same partner for the next 23 minutes or so. Each dance will be called 6
> times and the 6th time they will hear a new voice, which is the cue to pay
> attention as the next sequence will be a new dance. Encourage them to move
> down and get in the correct formation (hands 4, 1s crossed over, eg).  Most
> dancers are familiar with the medley, so there is no need for lengthy
> explanations.  It’s a nice idea to introduce the band and the callers, or
> you may do this afterward.
> 9.  Designate a counter and band cuer to keep track of how many times
> through each dance (usually it’s the last caller who does this).  A
> notebook
> with flip pages with numbers 1-6 is very helpful; put the 6th page and
> number on a different color as a visual cue for the band.
> Lisa
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*Looking forward,

Linda S. Mrosko
7302 CR 2829
Mabank, Texas 75156
(903) 451-5535 (H)
(903) 288-4401 (cell)

*"We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least
                                  -- Friedrich Nietzsche

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