[Callers] What is the best contra dance(s) ever written?

Jonathan Sivier jsivier at illinois.edu
Fri Nov 30 14:58:59 PST 2012

On 11/30/2012 3:06 PM, Kalia Kliban wrote:
> It's hard to single out any particular dance since so much depends on
> the music and the partners.  I could have a massively peak dance
> experience doing a completely generic dance if my partner and I were
> really in tune with each other and the room and if the band was cooking.
>   Likewise, the best dance in the world wouldn't be able to make up for
> a partner or line who weren't getting it, or a band that was struggling.

    So far this has been a list of favorites, and they have all been 
great dances.  However Michael asked for the name of the BEST DANCE EVER 
WRITTEN, not our personal favorites.  While I don't have a candidate 
dance to put forward at this time, I do think I can list some criteria 
which could be used to judge the dance.  Here is my list of requirements.

1. It must be smooth with great flow.
2. It must be bouncy and energetic with lots of balances.
3. It must have at least 3 swings (partner, neighbor and shadow).
4. It must have several gypsy figures.
5. It must be an equal dance.
6. It must give the actives a chance to shine, while the 2's appreciate 
7. It must have all the usual glossary figures; stars, circles, 
allemandes, do-si-do's, etc.
8. It must have a ladies chain.
9. It must have a gents chain.
10. It must have contra corners.
11. It must have a hey.
12. It must have 4 Petronella balance and turn figures.
13. It must not require more than one walk-through, even for absolute 
beginners with no experience at all.
14. The caller must be able to drop out after no more than 3 times 
through the dance with no effect on the set.
15. It must work equally well with reels, jigs, hornpipes, slip jigs, or 
any other tune the band decides to play, including crooked tunes.
16. It must be traditional, with lots of historical significance.
17. It must be modern, with all the latest bells and whistles.

    That's all I can think of at the moment.  I'm sure others will have 
additional requirements.  As I say I can't think of one offhand that 
fulfills these needs, but I look forward to dancing it at the next dance 
I go to.


P.S.  ;-)

Jonathan Sivier
Caller of Contra, English and Early American Dances
jsivier AT illinois DOT edu
Dance Page: http://www.sivier.me/dance_leader.html
Q: How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
A: It depends on what dance you call!

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