I'd like to congratulate Chris on an excellent first evening of his new
series Mill City Contra Dances! As usual, many of the experienced dancers
didn't arrive on time. Chris handled the beginners well and ended up with
a good mix of dancers by the end of the first half. In the second half,
many of the beginners had gone home, and Chris was able to do a
no-walk-through Chorus Jig. Fantastic music was provided by Apple Crisp.
It looks like a promising series.
It was a very fun evening. Nice job, Chris!
Seth and All,
That's some interesting question Seth posed and some equally
interesting responses. I believe that Mark's coments on community customs
went to the heart of the matter. We, as callers, have shaped the customs
by the choice of dances we present. Much of that effort on our part has
been, I suspect, to please the dancers. But, as Chris wrote, a steady diet
of ice cream is not good for the body and we have helped create this
somewhat unhealthy state. I say unhealthy beacuse I don't believe that
dancing only with our established friends encourages new folks to become
What to do? As callers our options are limited since leaders are only
leaders so long as someone follows and folk dancing is a voluntary
activity. I make a concerted effort to vary the dance forms used, circles
(mixer & non-mixer), squares, couples and contras (with & without partner
swings) in an evening. A circle mixer may or may not appear but several
contras may not have partner swings. Not all contras need be duple
improper. I think that keeping the dancers slightly "off-balance" in this
way has kept the booking ahead to a minimum. It is not always the popular
thing to do and I have been told as much but I'm looking for the long term
health of my community and it seems to be working.
Booking ahead is not a phenomenom that developed recently. Most of
you should already know about dances, call them what you will, held as late
as the 1940's (perhaps later) where participants had dance cards and all
dances were booked ahead. These things come and go but I'd hate to see
us let the community become as fragile as it was when Ralph Page came
along and began to revitalize things. Thinking about the issue and
participating in this discussion is a good move to healithier communities.
Cheers, John McIntire, Unity Maine
ps: perhaps I'll see some of you at NW Folklife this weekend!
What a cool dance. Thanks for sharing that one Bob.
-------------- Original message --------------
From: "Bob Isaacs" <isaacsbob(a)hotmail.com>
> To all;
> Just to clear this up, there are actually two dances that go
> together. The first one was;
> Kitch as Kitch Can Improper/Bob Isaacs
> A1. 4,4 Neighbor balance, box the gnat - face partner
> 8 Mad Robin
> A2. 8 Gents allemande L 1 1/2
> 8 1/2 hey (PR, LL, NR, GL)
> B1. 16 Partner gypsy and swing
> B2. 8 Ladies chain to neighbor
> 8 Star L
> After writing this I realized it was very much in Jim's style. A few
> weeks after I called it for him, he came up with Mirror, Mirror, which
> is similar except it has a neighbor swing. We both like the box the
> gnat/Mad Robin transition - it is easier to look at your partner
> knowing where your neighbor is.
I was at Medford Thursday night and you called a dance featuring a Mad
I very much enjoyed it!( as well as all the dances you call!)
Would you be so kind as to give me the details of that dance? I would
like to add it to
my calling repertoire.
>How about this: Before a mixer, tell dancers that if they've booked ahead
>you will give them special dispensation to put off that partner for this
>one dance, since it will be a mixer. So go find someone you've never danced
>with (or not danced with tonight, or some schtick) because this is, after
>all, a MIXER dance.
It was dealing with this issue that got me married. The first time Christine
and I were partners for a dance slot, at the Glen Echo Friday Night Dance,
it turned out to be a mixer (with no prior announcement). So we booked the
next slot to do a contra together, even though I didn't regularly book
ahead. All of that gave us enough time to start talking . . . and now here
comes our 4th wedding anniversary.
Seth Tepfer wrote:
> So my original post asked for ... pointers about how to encourage
> dancing on the fly (or not booking ahead).
How about this: Before a mixer, tell dancers that if they've booked ahead you will give them special dispensation to put off that partner for this one dance, since it will be a mixer. So go find someone you've never danced with (or not danced with tonight, or some schtick) because this is, after all, a MIXER dance.
And if you choose to stay with a booked-ahead someone, well, it's your choice.
That might even work for a square, saying contra prebooks are suspended for this one dance. (But give them some warning, like during the previous dance's walk-thru).
I've never tried this, but the logic makes sense in this moment. (Ah, but what will next morning's logic bring? This may work only in areas with relatively high concentrations of Catholics, since I don't know if the term "special dispensation" is widely understood outside that religion.)
As you probably heard, the Mill Yard was flooded earlier this week
during the huge amount of rainfall we had. But the Mill-a-Round dance
studio has been up and running since Tuesday, so we're having a dance
Beginner lesson at 7:30, dance at 8:00. $7 per person, under 12 free.
More information and directions: http://www.nhdances.org/millcity/
The Mill-a-Round is located in the Millyard in Manchester. It is in the
Waumbec Mill, a renovated mill building with high ceilings, a wood floor
and plenty of space. It is a wonderful hall to dance in. It is air
conditioned in the summer time. Take a look at the link above for more
Hope to see many of you tonight!
P.S. I need one or two people to volunteer to take money at the gate
during the first half. You will earn free admission to a future dance.
If two people volunteer, they can take shifts and still do some dancing
during the first half. Thanks!
People book ahead at our local dance. I despise the practice, but I
understand where it comes from, and have been prone to it myself (can I
have a witness?). It is a problem that is rife at our dance weekends and
our local dance.
I do not want to get into a religious discussion about whether booking
ahead is good or bad. Save that discussion for another time.
I would like to hear creative ideas for avoiding/sideswiping/eliminating
the booking ahead issue.
Here's what is in my [mostly ineffective] toybox:
* after a circle mixer (square, etc), have people take that last partner
(corner in square, last neighbor, etc) to be their partner for the next contra
* ask that everyone dancing ask someone who was sitting out last time to dance
* do a scatter mixer
* model good behavior [especially after Lisa called me out at SnowBall, 2004!]
* wear my 'I don't book ahead" button
What other creative ideas are there out in the dance ethos?
PS I really really really want to cross-post this to the trad-callers
listserv, because I know they'd have ideas there too. But I'm trying to be
good and not cross-post. Okay, climbing off martyr soapbox now. :-)
Seth Tepfer: Director of Administrative Computing & Innovative Technology
Oxford College of Emory University - 770-784-8487 - labst(a)emory.edu
For fast and easy computer help,
Jex Raven Eidson Tepfer - Born 6/5/05 00:52! Say hi at:
"A facility for quotation covers the absence of original thought." -Dorothy
> Instead it may help to focus on the new people, the first time
> dancers in the room. Remind people to be inclusive and to ask
> someone they don't know or a new dancer to dance. New dancers
> need to do that all the time and it is a good idea to remind
> the regulars about that.
i'm responding to these comments, which i especially *loved*.
i specifically try to go out of my way to dance with at least
one new dancer in an evening. the way this usually happens for
me is i'll encounter someone in line and ascertain that it's
their first (or second, or third...) time dancing. i'll smile,
and tell them they did great, and then seek them out later in
the evening and ask them to dance. they're usually dumbfounded
-- but i smile (a lot) and teach them the two main things that
matter to me about dancing, those being giving weight and
smiling (you may have noticed that there's a theme here...).
and then we'll dance, and i'll give lots and lots of positive
feedback (more smiling and positive words), and ask them to come
dancing again (and again). and if i see them at another dance,
i'll make a point of trying to dance with them again.
imho this should be a general practice among experienced
dancers. as a newbie in the early 90s, i summoned up all my
anti-shyness and boldly asked very experienced dancers to dance
with me (i'm still not sure where i got the chutzpah for that!).
as an experienced dancer now, i believe that dancing with
others like me is one of the best ways for someone to fast-track
through what can be the painful early stages of learning. and
as a lover of dance and community, i want my dance community to
thrive; and so i try to bring new dancers into the fold.
> I find that the best dances are those where the new comers are
> accepted and drawn into the dance. Someone who comes to a
> and spends the whole night sitting on the side is probably not
> going to return.
i think that asking experienced folks to do something along
these lines is essential to the survival of dance. this
describes how i came to love english country dance in philly; i
couldn't have sat out a dance if i had wanted to...
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Thanks, Chrissy and Peter, for identifying the mystery dance. My version of
"Feet in Flight" matches this "official" version from Dale Rempert and from
the 2002 Ralph Page syllabus:
So the version that Peter and Chrissy have seems to be a folk-processed
version, possibly by Dale himself! I'm happy to keep both versions in my