[Callers] Gender free dances

Martha Edwards meedwards at westendweb.com
Thu Dec 2 20:35:15 PST 2010


Surely for a situation such as the one you describe, there must be dances
that don't require "marking" a person with gender. By eliminating dances
with things like "ladies allemande" or even "ladies chain" and keeping to
dances with whole group moves like circles and stars and partner/neighbor
moves like dosidos and allemandes, we should be able to do fun dances that
don't require that extra marker of "gents" or "ladies".  Add in the English
Country concept of "corners" and you have a lot of people identified in the
group without ever saying anything about men and women.

It may mean we don't do certain dances at dances where there are children
dancing with parents, or dances with lots of same-gender newer dancers. But
surely that's better than any of the options we have come up with so far.
I'm glad to hear that at the Jamaica Plain dance, folks have learned to keep
track of "bands" and "bares" without actually having to be banded or bared.
It shows we could probably learn to use any designation we want for more
advanced gender-free dancing, that it doesn't even have to be particularly
logical, just learned and accepted by the group.

M
E

On Thu, Dec 2, 2010 at 10:05 PM, David Harding <dharding101 at comcast.net>wrote:

> I'll observe that there are multiple reasons for needing gender-free terms.
>  Our dance series is family-oriented and usually heavy with first time
> dancers.  So, we often have mother dancing with daughter, son dancing with
> son, father with son, daughter with best friend, and so forth.  The kids are
> generally uninhibited in pairing up, but often retreat when they realize
> they are playing the "wrong" role (especially the boys).  We sometimes use
> "cats" and "dogs", at least for some of the playful, non-contra dances.
>
> As with so many of the discussions here, how well random designations with
> no visible association works depends very strongly on the level of the
> dancers.  At some dances you can assume that whoever is coming toward you is
> the right person.  At our dances you cannot make that assumption.  The odds
> are quite high that the crow did not leave his birdie on the right or that
> instead of allemanding 1 and 1/2 times they allemanded once (and with the
> wrong hands).  We find ties very useful.
>
> Perseverating on this theme, it is not unusual for us to have enough first
> time dancers so that there are not enough experienced dancers to go around,
> leaving us with two beginners dancing together.  Children and their parents
> are often understandably uncomfortable having the children dancing with
> strange adults, again leaving us with two neophytes dancing together.  And
> sometimes a couple will come, expecting to dance with each other.
>
> I am not complaining about the dancers.  Part of our mission is to expose
> new people to traditional dancing, and this is what it takes.  I just ask
> that here we not dogmatically assert that our way is the only way without
> acknowledging the context.
>
> Dave
>
>
> On 12/2/2010 7:20 PM, beth at hands4.com wrote:
>
>> I am not suggesting this for a contra dance style event, but when calling
>> for private party dances and needing role definitions, not gendered, I use
>> birdie and crow (from the old dance "Birdie in the Cage") I find the
>> syllables roll of my tongue very comfortably. Birdie used as the replacement
>> (in my mind only) for lady and crow for gent. I've also used silly things
>> like "the people over here" and "the people over there."  The vast majority
>> of my private party dance material doesn't require any role definition at
>> all.
>>
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For the good are always the merry,
Save by an evil chance,
And the merry love the fiddle
And the merry love to dance. ~ William Butler Yeats



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