[Callers] Thoughts on B2/A1 swings and having time to flourish

Erik Hoffman via Callers callers at lists.sharedweight.net
Sun Mar 27 23:44:41 PDT 2016

On the 16-count swing. It can be totally enjoyable, but usually for experienced dancers. For a group of mostly beginners, even a 12-count swing can be a bit much. So, if I’m calling to a substantially beginning group, I’d turn it into a do-si-do and swing. I’ll even turn a balance & swing into a DSD & swing.

I went through a short phase of changing endings to end a dance with a swing. Now, I just try to stay out of the way of the band. I much prefer them doing the big wind-up or the occasional fade-out and surprise the dancers. So I’ve stopped trying to advertise my presence by calling the last time through. But, if a dance starts with a partner swing, I often ask the band to pick a last-tune-in-the-set that permits them to play three B parts the very last time though the dance. This lets the band do a big wind-up, me keep my mouth shut, and still end the dance with that A1 partner swing.

~erik hoffman
     oakland, ca

On the starting with a partner

From: Callers [mailto:callers-bounces at lists.sharedweight.net] On Behalf Of tavi merrill via Callers
Sent: Sunday, March 27, 2016 5:39 PM
To: callers at lists.sharedweight.net; callers-request at lists.sharedweight.net
Subject: [Callers] Thoughts on B2/A1 swings and having time to flourish


A 16-count swing does go on forever. But it is also awesome - and i mean truly awesome - to have a full 12-count swing plus 4 counts to pull off one of the more time consuming flourishes (like the ripcord twirl, seen in the wild here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVpR6SxWsM4&list=RDIVquC0jqCXs&t=2m2s and taught here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbyoOPc0rHQ, one of my favorite swing ending flourishes but one that takes too much time to be executed in an 8-count swing window).

I know attitudes on twirls vary, so i should state clearly my opinion: i think flourishes, while neither traditional nor intrinsic to our dance form, add a lot to contra when they are executed safely, consensually, and in a manner mindful of the foursome and set as a whole. That to me implies that when and how to use twirls well - and how to time them - can be a potential style point when dances allow for them, particularly where a 16-count swing may bore or tire dancers, yet allows plenty of time to flourish and arrive on time for the next move. We could, as choreographers, maybe even write more 16-count swings for use with the crowds that love to flourish. Less subtle: If you're calling a 16-count swing, why not point out to the dancers there's no excuse for arriving late after a flourish?

The A1 placement of the partner swing in Amy's dance "Feelin' the Bern" also appeals to me for a quite specific reason. Some callers are of a mind that every dance should end with a swing, while others (this camp including myself) feel that getting back on the microphone to change the final B to accomplish that is bad form, but do appreciate the elegance of being with or at least aimed toward your partner at the end of a dance and try to facilitate that effect when possible, and others don't give a crap about where dancers are facing when the music stops. (NOTE: This is to acknowledge the various camps, not to launch a thread on which approach is better!!!) Flowing from this, i fully support A1 partner swings, because it's another way to accomplish the aimed-toward-partner-when-dance-ends thing that doesn't involve an A1 circle L or slide. ;-)

On a slightly different but related note: As i work to assemble a DJ repertoire of contradanceable EDM, i've noticed that many remixes are perfectly contra-ready save for a "build to drop" element that occurs in the music where the B2 ends, in effect adding from 4 to 8 counts to the B2 but usually only once through. Rather than re-working the track to eliminate the build/drop element, which would create the feeling something substantial is missing, I'm toying with the notion of pairing such material with B2 swings so dancers get a slightly longer swing during that iteration of the dance. Thinking getting back on microphone to say "keep swinging" and then prompt the A1 with recorded music isn't such bad form. Open to feedback on that.

I'd appreciate if folks keep responses to this message positive/constructive in tone (vis-a-vis argumentative or dismissive) as i've been super depressed lately and positivity helps. Hope you all are having a good holiday weekend whether you're celebrating Easter or recovering from a raucous Purim or burning off all those Newroz treats or still doing laundry after Holi (did i get them all?!)

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