Head Of The Bed by Nils Fredland is my favorite becket dance of all time.
There are few dance with three swings in them that feel so good and so
natural in the dance, and of course the finally roll away into your partner
arms is perhaps one of the most brilliant transitions into a swing that has
ever been written. I first heard the dance called be Nils Fredland himself
at the Guilding Star Grange in Greenfield Ma, Labor Day Weekend 2004. So
after this, I brought this dance to the Nelson dance, where it is called
from time to time. If I remember correctly, I believe in A2, it is actually
a promenade not a right and left through. I really think that the promenade
is perhaps one of the gems in the dance, which goes to enhance the
connection between the dancers.
I would check with your sources about the dances, but I am 99.9% sure that
is a promenade. Well, as always good luck with your calling.
[mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]On Behalf Of
Sent: Sunday, February 27, 2005 10:05 AM
Subject: Callers Digest, Vol 6, Issue 8
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1. New Voices, Flurry and VFW (Chris Weiler)
Date: Sun, 27 Feb 2005 13:02:44 -0500
From: Chris Weiler <chris.weiler(a)weirdtable.org>
Subject: [Callers] New Voices, Flurry and VFW
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Well, it's been a busy couple of weeks, and boy is my body letting me
know it. I've been laid up with a cold the last couple of days. So here
is what's been happening with the calling side of my life (I guess I
don't need to warn you by now that this is going to be a long e-mail):
The New Voices dance was quite a success. All of us (Seth Seeger, Jenna
Watson, Cortni Frecha, Nathaniel Jack, Mark Jones and myself) did very
well. We had a good crowd (I estimated 60-70 people, Mark probably has a
better count) of experienced dancers. We also had great music by Mike
Ames, Lissa Schneckenberger (sp!) and Bruce Rosen, who were a delight to
work with on stage. My own personal breakthrough that night was that it
was the first time that I felt comfortable on-stage. Instead of my
nervous energy making me hesitant, I directed it into my calling. It was
a great feeling. I called two of my favorite dances that I hadn't called
before: Mary Cay's Reel and 333-33. I knew that 333-33 was going to be a
challenge, and it was. I worked hard with a form to work out the words
(which I created first). The form I used is attached if people are
interested. Then I practiced (mostly in the car) calling into a tape
recorder. The prep work really paid off at the dance.
The next weekend was the Dance Flurry in Saratoga Springs, NY. This is
one of my favorite dance festivals with lots of great dancing, workshops
and great people. There were 4 callers workshops during the festival and
each had their own focus.
The first was Joseph Pinmentel's workshop. He talked about the 3 stages
of being a caller: the first is where you're learning the basics (call
timing, word choice, parts/structure of the music, etc.), the second he
called "flight time" or practice time, and the third I think he called
the "process". The third stage was the focus of the workshop. The
"process" he was referring to was the cycle of feedback and learning
that happens when you're calling regularly. Specifically he put it in
terms of the observation cycle: take an action, observe the results,
decide what you think about the results, and back to the beginning with
taking another action. The part that he observed that most callers had
with this cycle was that the feedback was hard to filter away from the
junk around it. For example when someone comes up to you after a dance
and says: "you called a dance without a neighbor swing. Your calling
stinks." His suggestion was that you look for the kernel of good
information in any feedback you get. In the example, you take away the
information that calling a dance without a neighbor swing made a dancer
unhappy. Then you can decide if you're going to call a dance without a
neighbor swing the next time without the defensive reaction to the
statement. It also means that you can handle the situation better
because you can honestly thank the person for their useful feedback and
ignore the rest. Of course this is harder than it seems. The rest of the
workshop we got up and danced and had different people calling the
dances. Then we sat down and made observations and Joseph helped us pick
out the kernels of good information in the statements. The funniest
moment in the class was when one of the people in the workshop made an
observation about a session earlier in the day where the caller didn't
run the dances long enough. The observer didn't realize that the caller
at that session was Joseph. 8^) You'll see by the lengths of my
descriptions that this was my favorite workshop.
The next workshop was Rick Mohr's. He focused on the basics of timing
and word selection. He talked about timing the words to music in order
to end the call at the correct moment. He had some great handouts for
this and we all practiced with a fiddler.
On Sunday, the first workshop was Ralph Sweet teaching singing squares.
He talked about the differences in patter calling and singing and the
kind of prep work necessary for singers. Coordinating with the band
seems to be the most important one. If you don't practice it, then most
likely you won't be able to be flexible with the calling to make sure
that the dancers are promenading at the chorus. He has published a nice
book full of squares and music that has some great material in it.
The last workshop I was late for, since I was having great fun at Rick's
Squantras and Contrares session. Peter Amidon was running a workshop
where he reviewed a handout with a few basics about calling, dance
selection and responsibilities. He then opened the floor to questions
and discussion. Most of the questions had to to with resources like
where to find dances to call and e-mail discussion groups like ours. I
have included a scan of Peter's two sided sheet.
After the New Voices dance I was very surprised to receive an e-mail
from Sue Rosen inviting me to call at the VFW as part of NEFFA night (a
multi-caller evening that happens 3-4 times a year). I was floored. I
was nervous. I said yes (how could I say no?). Being a regular dancer at
the VFW, I know what a demanding venue it is. I requested that Sue put
me in the first slot (1st dance of the evening with the first and second
after the break). Then I had to find dances that would go over well
there. I knew that one of my dances after the break would be either Mary
Cay's or 333-33 since they're fun dances and I already had the calling
and teaching worked out for them. I remembered a recent discussion on
trad-dance-callers about "Easy yet interesting" dances that I could use
for the first dance of the evening, but I was at a loss for the last
one. The digital voice recorder that I had been using to collect dances
had gone through the washing machine in my shorts the weekend before,
erasing about a dozen dances that might have done the job. I spent the
whole flurry collecting dances, but they were either too hard or too
easy for the VFW. It wasn't until the last session that I danced on
Sunday afternoon that I found just the right dance for after the break:
Nils Fredland's Head of the Bed. For those who are interested, I have
put it at the end of the e-mail.
So I had 3 days to prepare after I had my dance selection for the
evening. I had a few other things going on in my life, so I didn't
prepare as much as I would have liked. On top of things, I was running
flat out all week and got hit hard with a cold on Thursday. So I was
pretty miserable when I showed up at the VFW that night. At this point I
would like to praise the nasal decongestant spray that I bought at the
last minute. It kept my nose and throat clear through the evening and
allowed me to call. The evening is a haze to me, though. Because of the
snow, Linda Leslie wasn't able to make it that night. For a while, it
looked like it was going to be Bob Golder and myself. Erica Weiss showed
up a dance or two before she was scheduled to go on. Sue called Rick
Mohr and he was able to come and call a couple of dances during the
second half. This pretty much blew the schedule out of the water, so I
ended up calling the first two dances of the evening and the first after
the break. I called The Casbah Queens by David McMullen (which I got off
the trad-dance-callers list) and Forgotten Treasure as my first two
dances. Then I called Head of the Bed as the first one after the break.
All of which went over well. My teaching on Head of the Bed didn't go as
well as I wanted it to (I was reaching the limits of energy and
medicine), but the experience of the dancers made up for it and the
dance was a success. Great music by Lise Brown, Dave Langford and Bruce
Rosen combined with good material and lots of experienced dancers made
up for any mistakes I might of made that night.
Thankfully, my fuzzy head that night made it impossible to be nervous
about calling at the VFW. A few people came up to me afterwards and
mentioned that they didn't even know that I was sick until I told them.
One of the unfortunate things about getting sick was that I had to turn
down all of my favorite dance partners as they came up to ask me to
dance while I was sitting out.
I have also attached a handout from Tony Parkes' workshop at the Ralph
Page weekend for your enjoyment. Once again, I'm hoping that you are
enjoying these e-mails and that those of you who are thinking about
taking the leap into calling are inspired to take another step.
All the best,
Head of the Bed
Slide Left, Cir. L 3/4 w/new neighbors
LL fwd & bk
Gents roll Shadow away
I'm starting up a new series of traditional New England dances here at
Chapel Arts New England in Gorham, New Hampshire, about 8 miles north
of Mount Washington. We hope to have a dance the second Saturday of
each month, April through October. We have a group of local
instrumentalists getting ready to play, and need callers. We are
open to visiting groups also.
I realize NEFFA is a big draw, but I was wondering if anyone is
available for April 9.
So far May, June, July, September and October are also open.
Chapel Arts New England is a former Methodist Church, and the
parsonage next door is available for visiting musicians and/or callers
to stay, if they like, overnight.
Director, Chapel Arts New England