[Callers] Easy and Fun

JD Erskine sailargh at victoria.tc.ca
Tue Dec 27 20:41:59 PST 2011

On 26/Dec/11 08:03, holt.e at comcast.net wrote:
> Hi all,
> I am about to call a dance the character of which has changed from what I
> expected and I need some easy dances. I had harder material planned and
> while I do have some material that is probably easy enough, I am not sure
> that it is.  The dance is at a college.  It is for college students only,
> pssibly only students from that college, and we are now hoping for a large
> contingent of beginers; perhaps mostly beginners.  Have you any expereince
> with a similar situation?  I am thinking along the lines of ONS dances,
> although if we made a few into regulars for the regular dance there that
> would be great. So:  "no-partner" dances, mixers (I have January Mixer - a
> great one), Set dances ("Once and to the bottoms") .......
> We intend to have a blast!
> Rickey Holt, Fremont, NH

 From the subject line it sounds like you have a handle on this.

It sounds like a ONS dance, I'd treat it as such (ONS, Community dance, 
Barn dance, English Ceilidh). Hopes for the future (of individual 
dancers) notwithstanding, it stands on its own, is not part of a series, 
is likely to have few "experienced" dancers, etc. etc. etc.

A blast is fun to have! I had three very large Tetris pieces show up at 
a fund-raiser ONS near All Hallows Eve. Was quite fun, "Two hand turn, 
or as close as you can." There was a space for the face to look out, and 
a bottle to look in, therefore all had at least one arm/hand available.

Folks will come to future dances if they had fun, more so than if the 
pattern of the dances is the same. IOW there is no requirement to have a 
"Contra" (MUC def'n used) dance on the program for fun to be had or for 
folks to be encouraged to attend a MUC dance series later.

I've trotted this essay out before, worth re-reading. Though it speaks 
more to setting up/running a dance series on campus there are some gems 
for a campus ONS dance leader.

Don't forget a clapping dance, usually a hoot. (e.g. Patty Cake Polka, 
Green Stockings)

Things that allow for maximum use of energy, or sound effects, are good.

License to sashay down the hall, into/through other sets (with caution) 
is fun.

Good natured safety comments work fine, "Be kind to yourself, partner, 
others." "Dancing is all fun and games until someone loses an eye." 
Handy if you can sing a snippet from Don Freed's "Being A Pirate" song. 

I think progression is the potential enemy of a caller of a hall full of 
new dancers. Yes, one can deal with it, however likely best to take a 
fun, easy path, appropriate to the event.

As well as circle, whole set, and mixers of different formations, I like 
simple Beckets. Try Wherries Circle Contra. If the crowd has succeeded 
with a Longways FAMAW like Jefferson & L. (Liberty, Lincoln) or Family 
Contra in The Castle give Midwest Folklore a try.

Brains die during the event, so it's useful to recall having the program 
peak for challenging dances in a useful spot is a good idea, rather than 
at the end of the evening
(Note to self -- Yes, mildly forgotten at a November dance).

I've plucked fun stuff (inc. Wherries Circle, Witch's Reel, Borrowdale 
Exchange) from these, amongst other sites like Bob Archer's, Colin's, 
Seth's, The Round, sites:



some interesting mixers and chestnuts from:
including Set A Crochet & Midwest Folklore. David Kaynor was on the 
Island recently and at his workshop had a similar dance to the first, a 
two cpl., "proper"ish one that avoided the need for a Lady's Chain. Nice.

A great quote from Hugh Stewart, "If most dancers have next to no 
experience then you need dances that probably look boringly simple to 
you; if in doubt use even easier dances; people get more frustrated 
struggling with a dance that is too complicated for them then doing 
something they regard as dead easy." Near the foot of

Have fun. Report back if you'd like.

Cheers, John/'JD'
J.D. Erskine
Victoria, BC

Island Dance -- Folk & Country dance info for Vancouver Island
Now at http://members.shaw.ca/island.dance please update links

No virus found in this message.
Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
Version: 10.0.1416 / Virus Database: 2109/4107 - Release Date: 12/27/11

More information about the Callers mailing list