[Callers] Introducing Contra to MWSD folks

Liz and Bill staf186 at ext.canterbury.ac.nz
Thu May 20 20:48:04 PDT 2010

Hi Jack,

       The fact that the local MWSD group has invited you must mean
that they are interested learning what contra dancing is about.  So I'd
suggest you choose dances and music that emphasize some of the
special features of contras: dancing to phrase and giving weight.

        I have quite of few MWSDers come to my contra dances, and have
also called a contra dance at the Australian SD convention.  With a
bit of encouragement it is not hard to get MWSDers into contra mode.

        I've found that using some uniquely contra dance moves work well
such as  Petronella rolls,  Rory O'More and heys. They are different and
fit naturally into the phrasing. If you have regular contra
dancers with you, a demo will convey the move and also provide the
example of how to fit the moves to the music. I find Petronella with
claps really helps people get into listening and dancing to the music (
as opposed to just the beat).

I find it important in the walk thru to sometimes count out the beats to
help them do moves in 8 beats. For example R&L thru in MWSD is
usually done in 6 beats, so they need to be helped to do the right pull
by in the first four beats and the courtesy turn in the last 4 beats.

        You haven't mentioned the level of the club. Also if the dancers
are older this might limit how energetically they will dance. I'm not sure
how tips are done there, but often there will be a hoedown (improvised)
of about 4-5 minutes, followed by a singing call of 3 and 1/2 minutes.
Some older square dancers find a contra dance of 10 minutes much too

      These dances go over well with SDers:
Jefferson Revisited by Bob Dalsemer

Easy Petronella (not sure of author)
A1	Circle Balance, petronella roll Circle Balance, petronella roll			
A2	Circle Balance, petronella roll Circle Balance, petronella roll			
B1	Neighbor Dosido, Neighbor Swing			
B2	LLFB, Actives Swing		

Good luck, it should be fun!
Cheers, Bill
PS a few comments to your post:

>  move wait call move wait call that I see in so many MWSD videos.
You haven't seen good square dancing videos, good square dancing
flows and is not stop start.
> I also know that they're not going to be used to longer swings
Once they twig they have the time many are good swingers. I find
that for a balance and swing, I may need to prompt at beat 6 "keep
swinging" till they get used to it.

> Then we get into allemandes, waves and such, all of which they're used 
> to doing hands down, rather than hands up elbows down like you generally 
> do in a contra dance.  
    Waves are probably hands up at plus and below, but at A level goes to down.

More information about the Callers mailing list