[Callers] Triplets

Chris Page chriscpage at gmail.com
Tue Aug 21 00:27:48 PDT 2012

Triplets ... rarely get done these days. And the wild cheering is a
running gag going back decades, the theory being the dancers have
memorized which number is which. They were originally created by Ted
Sannella in 1968, from memories of Fandango. It was a way for him to
make triple-minor choreography or inactive choreography, yet let
everyone have a chance at being ones. (And Fandango is just one of
many traditional triple minors reconstructed into a 3-couple set so
the inactives wouldn't fall asleep/would get to dance the cool part.)

(See http://groups.yahoo.com/group/trad-dance-callers/message/4078 for
the fuller story, but you'll need to be a member of
trad-dance-callers, and yahoo groups in order to read this)

I like triplets, and yes, they're great for those six-dancer
situations. But I personally find they take the same dance-program
space as squares. They're both small-set dances where you're dancing a
particular pattern with only a small number of people. They also have
a higher teach/dance ratio than contras, as triplets are traditionally
run nine times through.

For anyone interested in a few triplets, I recommend starting with
Ted's Triplet #3 (dip and dive), and a simple contra corners triplet.
There's several of those.

If you're interested in going beyond, there's a number that I like:

David's Triplet #4 (David Smukler, a real easy triplet)
Ted's Triplet #2 (Basket swings)
Ted's Triplet #24 (Waves. A1 will be unfamiliar to most contra dancers)
Housewarming (Jacob Bloom, mirror circles, right-hand-high,
left-hand-low. I replace the final forward and back with a do-si-do)
Proofreader's Triplet (Al Olson, hey for three)
Beneficial Triplet (Al Olson. A variant of a contra dance that was a
variant of a 3-couple ECD dance)
Star Chase (Al Olson, use the variant with partner swing. Interesting
pattern for the ones. Very hard to teach without using a demo)
Triplet to Eugene (Mary Devlin, mirror allemandes and contra corners)
TLC Triplet (Chris Page, three ladies chain figure)
Cinammon Cruller (Bob Isaacs, hey for six)

And there's about a dozen more that I haven't called yet that I really
want to. Since contra dance is based on two and four person figures,
there's not a lot that fits well for all six, but what there is can be
neat. I once did a whole workshop on them, and got favorable feedback
from the dancers.

-Chris Page
San Diego

On Mon, Aug 20, 2012 at 12:34 PM, Kalia Kliban <kalia at sbcglobal.net> wrote:
> Hi all
> I just encountered a triplet in the wild for the first time (they don't get
> called much around here, and I've been out of the dancing loop for a bit) at
> our Santa Rosa (CA) contra last Friday.  It was Ted's Triplet #24.
> Apparently wild cheering is traditional when one of Ted Triplets is
> announced?
> As an English dancer, I found it to be a pretty simple and straightforward
> dance and a nice break from loads o' longways, but the contra dancers all
> around me were falling to bits, apparently completely flummoxed by the small
> sets.
> How often do triplets show up in programs where you dance?  How often, and
> in what sorts of settings, do you call them?  What do you do differently to
> teach them, to help contra dancers with the unusual formation?  They seem
> like useful dances, both for a change of pace and for those dreaded dinky
> crowds, but as I mentioned, this was my first time encountering one in years
> of dancing.  Are they more common on the East Coast?
> Kalia
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