[Callers] As in Petronella

Martha Wild via Callers callers at lists.sharedweight.net
Thu Dec 17 12:07:22 PST 2015

Ah, the chicken or the egg issue….

> On Dec 17, 2015, at 11:27 AM, Alan Winston via Callers <callers at lists.sharedweight.net> wrote:
> Martha --
> I believe "Double Mad Robin" in ECD is a reimportation from contra of the contra-style Mad Robin.
> -- Alan
> On 12/17/15 7:42 AM, Martha Wild via Callers wrote:
>> Hear, hear, John. I agree with you. I’ve heard this move called "petronella turn" at least since the late 80s and, as you do, just call it as such, and teach where necessary, without a reference to the original dance. Why bother? Most dancers don’t know the original dance - now if I were teaching the original dance I might say this is where this move came from, but otherwise that information is just unnecessary verbiage that no one is listening to and doesn’t help in the teaching. If I were calling a medley without teaching, saying "petronella turn" would get the job done as that’s what the dancers here all know, and balance and spin would confuse utterly, for the reasons you  mentioned. What is wrong with using “mad robin” and “petronella”? It’s not as if we have 200 different calls people need to know to do contra - these have been in use regularly for many years now and I don’t quite understand what the fuss is all about.
>> Also, as for “mad robin” not being the same as the ECD version - well, yes and no. What we do is “double mad robin” and that does exist in ECD, though I’m not sure how old the usage is. Contra just doesn’t use the single version, so I suppose we dropped the “double” designation.
>> Martha
>>> On Dec 17, 2015, at 2:29 AM, John Sweeney via Callers <callers at lists.sharedweight.net> wrote:
>>> Michael Fuerst wrote, "'Balance and spin' has the same number of syllables
>>> as 'Petronella' and avoids unnecessary jargon"
>>> Hmmm... well if someone says "Petronella" I know that I am balancing forward
>>> and back and then spinning clockwise while moving one place to my right to
>>> the place of the person who was holding my right hand.
>>> If the caller just says "Balance & Spin" then I don't know which direction
>>> to balance, which way to turn or which way to move (if indeed I move at
>>> all).  Set & Turn Single has basically the same meaning as Balance & Spin
>>> but means something completely different.
>>> I never say "as in Petronella".  The move is well enough established in
>>> contra dance that all I have to do is say, "Petronella" and it happens.  If
>>> there are new dancers I teach them the move, call it a Petronella, and
>>> everything works fine from then on.
>>> And we have been clapping for fun in dances for over 400 years now so don't
>>> expect people not to do it! :-)
>>> Our dancing couldn't survive without jargon.  Star. Ladies' Chain,
>>> Allemande, Dosido are all jargon.  Would you try calling a contra dance
>>> without using any of those words?
>>> But none of those words are well defined.  Star can mean wrist-lock or
>>> hands-across depending on the next move.  Ladies' Chain can mean across, or
>>> across and back depending on which century you are in.  Allemande means
>>> completely different things in other dance styles. And Dosido could be a
>>> Mountain Dosido, a Do Paso, an Alabama Rang Tang or a Docey Ding if you are
>>> in a different part of America a century ago.
>>> I was dancing with another Morris side recently and #1 (the "caller") called
>>> "Allemande".  I had never heard that term used in Morris before so I started
>>> to offer my right hand, but the guy opposite me started doing a Back to Back
>>> around me.  That is what #1 meant by "Allemande".  I thought this very
>>> strange until I was researching "Captain Macintosh" and found Thomas
>>> Wilson's 1820 book "The Complete System of English Country Dancing" which
>>> defined "Allemande" as "Back to Back"!
>>> Every dancing master in every community in every style in every period in
>>> every country uses the words to mean what they want them to mean.  But they
>>> teach their dancers what they mean and then it works.  Some calls get
>>> standardised and are easy to use across communities.  Others take time to
>>> settle down and may never be universally used.  But if jargon allows a group
>>> of dancers to have fun at any particular dance then I am all for it!
>>> Whether complete standardisation is a good thing or a bad thing is another
>>> matter entirely; we all have our own opinions about MWSD :-)
>>> Happy dancing,
>>> John
>>> John Sweeney, Dancer, England john at modernjive.com 01233 625 362
>>> http://www.contrafusion.co.uk for Dancing in Kent
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