[Callers] Dances with three or more allemandes

Jonathan Sivier jsivier at illinois.edu
Mon Feb 17 17:00:16 PST 2014

On 2/17/2014 6:39 PM, Aahz Maruch wrote:
> On Sun, Feb 16, 2014, Jerome Grisanti wrote:
>> Aahz wrote to Erik:
>>> I have no idea what you mean by "guideposts", though; from my POV either
>>> the thumbs are interlocked or they're not.  (If each person's thumb can
>>> touch the other person's webbing between thumb and forefinger they're
>>> interlocked.)
>> I believe most dancers can make a distinction between holding your
>> hand in a position (e.g. with interlocking thumbs), and gripping based
>> on that same position. How can we best communicate that difference?
> Maybe they can make that distinction, but I sure can't based on what
> you're writing here.  ;-)
> What is the distinction/difference?

    This is probably one of those things that is easier to show than it 
is to explain in words.  However, I'll give it a try.

    I think referring to "interlocking" could be a confusion.  I 
wouldn't tell anyone to interlock their hands or thumbs.  Instead I like 
to tell people to hook their fingers behind the other person's thumb, 
between the thumb and the wrist, and to keep their thumbs in the "thumbs 
up" position, not closing them on the other persons hand.  That way 
either person can easily let go without any problem by just 
straightening their fingers.  Nothing is holding their hands together 
except their own bent fingers.  The hands and wrists should be held 
straight, without twisting or bending, so that when the fingers are 
straightened they will point at the other person's face (or 
thereabouts).  Arms should be held with with a slight bend in the elbow, 
adjusting the distance between the dancers by bending the elbows greater 
or lesser, to enable them to get around in more or less time depending 
on the time allowed for the figure.  All force should be straight along 
the arms from the shoulder of one person to the shoulder of the other, 
with no side force.  That way it is easy to give the appropriate amount 
of "weight" without any twisting or bending of the wrists.  In fact, I 
think that optimally both shoulders of both dancers, as well as their 
elbows and hands, should all lie in the same plane, perpendicular to the 
floor.  So you might start by having the two dancers stand facing in 
opposite directions, pointing their (right) shoulders at each other, 
then extent their (right) arms towards the other person and hooking 
their fingers around the other's thumb/wrist junction, keeping their own 
thumbs pointing straight up.

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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