Here are a few. Bevy of Butterflies is a wonderful dance that has two star promenades. I don't have "Through the Looking Glass" however.
Bevy of Butterflies - Bob Isaacs and Chris Page Improper
A1: (Next) Gent alle left 1 1/2, Scoop up partner
w/Partner Star prom across, butterfly twirl
A2: Ladies gypsy right 1x
B1: R/L thru across, Ladies alle right 1 1/2
B2: Ladies Scoop up Neighbor (with ladys arm on top)
Star prom, across, Neighbor swing
Carols Delight Tom Hinds (1990) Becket
A1: Ladies alle right 1 1/2
Scoop up N for Star Prom 1/2, Butterfly twirl*
A2: Gents alle left 1 1/2, Partner Swing
B1: Circle left left 3/4, pass thru, swing next
B2: LLFB, Ladies Chain
*Gents walk fwd, ladies back up
Heart of Glass - Cary Ravitz Becket
A1: Circle Left 3/4, pass thru across
A2: Gents Alle Left 1 1/2
Star promenade across
B1: Full Hey (Ladies st pass rt sh)
B2: Partner Balance and Swing
Pedal Pushers - Bob Dalsemer Improper
A1: Gents Alle Left 1 1/2, Scoop Up Partner
Star Promenade, Butterfly Twirl
A2: Ladies Dosido, Partner Swing (form ring)
B1: Ring Balance, Pass Thru Across the Set
Face Rt, Single File Prom 3 places,
Gents turn back &...
B2: Neighbor Balance & Swing
Judging by the materials at http://www.quiteapair.us/calling (couldn't
find resources.html, though), seems like you've got plenty to choose from.
I doubt whether your workshop participants will be disappointed by
whatever you decide on. I see you have material from Cary Ravitz. Have you
also already considered material from his "Notes on Choreography for Duple
Improper Contra Dances"? Even though it's intended for dance composers as
well as callers, it's loaded with little tidbits and not-so-little
profundities that could help a new caller with choosing dances, deciding
what's worth pointing out during the walkthrough, and generally developing
the "big picture" about how dances work.
I found it at http://www.concentric.net/~ravitz/dance/chor.shtml
> Message: 5
> Date: Thu, 12 Apr 2007 15:32:42 -0700
> From: "William Watson" <wjw1961(a)gmail.com>
> Subject: [Callers] New callers material?
> To: "Caller's discussion list" <callers(a)sharedweight.net>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed
> I've been asked to lead a short workshop session for folks possibly
> interested in starting calling. While I have a number of handouts from
> callers' sessions at different camps I've attended, I don't really feel
> I should hand out copies of those notes. I've started pulling together
> material of my own, but thought I'd ask the list members if they know of
> materials already on-line. I did check the "contra dance links" page,
> a quick scan, and picked a few items from the list to include on mine.
> If you want to see what I have so far, you can look here:
> Please let me know of any materials you found helpful when starting, or
> you recommend I suggest to new callers.
> William J. Watson
I'd recommend adding Ted Sannella's books to your list of resources. The first
two books provide a nice selection of dances, many of them less complex than
some of the dances in Give and Take. I've found that one common problem that new
callers have is selecting dances that are too hard for them to call well; they
hope to make a big splash, showing that they can call hot dances that they have
enjoyed dancing themselves, but all too often get tangled up in lengthy
explanations orlet the timing slip on their calling. They would have done better
to pick something more straightforward, teach it quickly, keep up with the
calls, and get out of the way.
In addition to Ted's collection of dances, what I like about his first two books
(_Balance and Swing_ and _Swing the Next_) are his detailed notes on how he
teaches the dance, sometimes offering specific wording, and a rationale for why
he makes the choices he does. The careful reader can learn a lot about how to
teach and how to program from reading Ted's comments.
The third Ted publication, his notes on calling traditional New England squares,
is valuable for many reasons. First, New England style squares are the easiest
kind of squares for most callers to learn, and his notes, combined with the many
squares presented in the first two books, are a helpful guide. Second, Ted pays
a lot of attention attention to breaks, that bane of many contra callers.
Finally, the booklet comes with a CD that offers 15 examples of Ted's calling.
Callers wanting to call traditional New England style squares could do a lot
worse than to pattern themselves on Ted Sannella's timing and diction.
Just testing whether or not attachments go through. I looked through the
settings and don't see anything that wouldn't let a .doc or .pdf through.
P.S. The attached form is one that I use for working out the prompts for
a dance. One line (Moves) is for what the dancers are doing. The lines
represent one word or syllable. The form seemed to get more elaborate as
I tried to call higher piece count dances. First I write down what I
think will work, then I pound a beat on the table and try to read what I
wrote, out loud, in time with it.
Welcome to calling!
I will address a few of your questions, with the understanding that multiple
approaches are what keep this folk art lively and interesting.
Timing: As long as dancers understand you and get the call before the move,
I don't believe it matters whether you phrase it "partners balance and
swing" or "partners balance ... and swing." There are times when the pause
is needed, either musically or acoustically, but there is no hard-and-fast
rule. Once the dance is in its third or fourth iteration, I back off the
calls considerably, reducing to "partners balance" or "partners" to saying
nothing if the dancers are all on top of the dance. With some dances, I may
prompt a tricky spot and nothing else. Listen to callers you like, they are
the best tool to know about placing calls.
I echo Mavis' advice about taping yourself, this is a real ear-opener but it
can be hard on the ego.
Playing and calling at the same time: It can be done, but I would encourage
new callers to concentrate on that skill exclusively for a long period. Be
aware of all the dancers, stand on the stage or elevated platform, get
feedback on your audio, language, teaching, etc. There's a LOT of stuff to
absorb, in real time, with people waiting for YOU to say the next thing.
Varying the calls: Not necessary unless something is not working. For
example, in Petronella some people will say "in a circle, balance and
petronella turn," only to realize that at the word "circle" many of the
groups started to circle to the left. So the next time, the caller might
realize it would be better to say "in a ring, balance and petronella turn."
In general, I vary the calls only as a way of reducing to no prompts.
Ending the dance: Many callers like to end dances with a partner swing, and
there are a number of "boilerplate" endings from the various positions. I'd
encourage you to figure those out ahead of time and make notes for "final
time thru." One move I don't enjoy is a partner swing stretching over both
the B1 and B2, so I'll say "listen up, new call, long lines (or circle) ...
partners swing again." From a neighbor swing you could circle three places.
And with some "signature" moves you may just let the dances end as written.
Judging Dancer's Level: Observe. Ask the dancers what they are comfortable
with. I think it's a useful exercise to create a ranking of moves by
difficulty. Your first list may not be entirely accurate. Things that are
relatively easy for first-timers in a crowd of experienced dancers (chain)
may prove very difficult indeed when the crowd is predominantly
inexperienced, for example at a wedding. As you gain experience, you will
find that your rankings change. You will also find ways to teach certain
moves that are very effective, while others are less effective.
Good luck, and have fun!
> Message: 3
> Date: Thu, 12 Apr 2007 11:24:06 -0400
> From: "Richard Green" < richard.a.green(a)hotmail.com>
> Subject: [Callers] Greetings from a new caller and some random
> questions about calling
> To: "'Caller's discussion list'" < callers(a)sharedweight.net>
> Message-ID: <BAY118-DAV6587B7A64A3ED5A887787B25E0(a)phx.gbl>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
> Greetings to all of you!
> My name is Richard Green and I have decided to come out of the lurking
> closet and announce my intention of learning how to call. I discovered
> wonderful discussion list about a month ago and avidly read through the
> multiple years of postings. Now, alas, I am up to date and finding it
> to adjust to having only an occasional new post to read.
> I live in Maine, and my calling interest began in January when I attended
> John McIntire's calling workshops. At the time I thought it would be nice
> to learn some calling skills because my wife and I have had some
> opportunities to play music for some barn and family dances in the area,
> on one occasion the caller was not present and we didn't know how to
> proceed.(He did eventually show up). At the end of the caller's workshop
> were given the opportunity to call at a live contradance, and despite a
> rather anxious time spent worrying about the fiasco that was sure to
> it went quite well and I really had a good time. It was a breakthrough
> moment for me, and it was then and there that I decided I would like to
> pursue calling more seriously. I am grateful to John for giving me that
> Since then I have doubled my calling experience by calling a mixer at a
> recent family dance that we played at. John has also scheduled another
> dance next month with guest callers which I will be one of. Other than
> I have spent time preparing by transcribing several dances that I have
> online,(several on this list), donning my mp3 player and practicing
> as I jog around the neighborhood. It is a pretty good way to become
> familiar with the timing of the calls, but doesn't really do much for the
> stage fright that I will still have to deal with, although I suppose that
> running around the streets shouting contradance calls in cadence does make
> me an object of attention.
> Despite my lack of experience I now have several gigs lined up to call.
> They are all for family type and special dances that we have been asked to
> play at. Since it is not very likely that much of this dancing is going
> be done to the phrasing of the music it takes a little pressure off the
> to be precise with timing, but in general I think that calling these types
> of dances is actually more difficult in some ways because teaching, as
> as just maintaining the dance, can be a challenge.
> I would like to say that I will be satisfied with calling these family
> dances, but I really harbor a secret desire to make it to the big time and
> call a "real" dance. I have always been pretty impressed by how the
> could stand up there and make a dance happen, and now that I know more
> what goes into it I am even more in awe of you all.
> Since it is too late to avoid being long-winded, I would like to add a few
> random questions which I will throw out to see if they generate any
> Timing issues- I think that I have a pretty good handle on the eight and
> sixteen beat figures, but how do you keep track of others? For example,
> petronella balance & spin are 4 & 4, I think. Do you call them together,
> like a balance and swing, or try to separate the call a little? And for
> that matter, for a balance and swing call, is it better to call that all
> once, or would it be good to call balance......and swing, with a
> And what about these dances that have other timing. Sometimes I see
> of 7 or 9, or other odd numbers. Does the timing of the calls have to
> change to reflect this?
> Calling and Playing - Does anyone call and play an instrument at the same
> time? Are you able to call and play simultaneously or do you do some
> calling and then join the band when the calling is no longer needed. Any
> hints on how to share these tasks?
> Ending the Dance - Do most callers change the call at the end of the dance
> so that you swing your partner or something to close the dance? I know
> Olson does, but I can't really remember if it is the common thing to
> do. If
> so, do you have some special ending already prepared or do you just
> something on the fly or with experience. In transcribing dances and I
> not included anything like that.
> Varying your Calls - Is it a good thing to vary the words that you use
> calling a dance or is it better to use the exact same words each time
> through? It seems like it would be a nice to avoid repetition, but on the
> other hand it also seems like it would be easier to be consistently
> understood if you stick to the same phrases. Also, should you always call
> using the same phrases from dance to dance? It seems like the dancers
> get used to hearing things in the same way and understand them better, but
> wonder if it would make you seem limited or boring as a caller.
> Judging the Dancer's Level - Any tips on how to judge the ability of the
> dancers in order to introduce more complex dances? Is this something that
> is obvious or does it take some special skills to observe, or is it
> something that you develop over time?
> Thanks in advance for your help.
> Callers mailing list
> End of Callers Digest, Vol 32, Issue 4
It's been a while since I've written one of these, and a lot has
happened in my calling career since the last one. I had my debut at the
Scout House in January, calling for the 2nd Saturday dance. I've called
for the Monday night dance there as well. I've been booked to call
another Monday night dance and this time the band is Notorious! The Mill
City dance has been on hiatus for various reasons (hall unavailable,
storms, festivals) and will return in May for our 1 year anniversary!
Lots of wonderful opportunities.
But this report is about my session at the Down East Country Dance
Festival a couple of weeks ago in Maine. If you haven't been, this is
one of my favorite festivals. So many wonderful sessions, great people
and a strong community. I call up there semi-regularly now and it's
great each time to visit with my Maine friends.
My session was titled "Neighborly Contras". I had no idea what I was
going to do with it when I applied, but worked it out over a few weeks
after I found out that my application had been accepted. What I decided
was that I was going to push the boundaries of modern urban contra
dancing by breaking a few of the rules. For example, I planned on
calling dances without partner swings, unequal movement (1s are more
active than the 2s) and mixers. The last one turned out to be the most
problematic. David Millstone sent me a contra mixer that I liked very
much, but didn't quite meet the vision that I had for the session. In
the end, I decided to write my own. The weekend before, I tried it out
on some willing test subjects at a dance called by Lisa Sieverts and
discovered that the gents progressed and the ladies stayed in the same
spot each time through. After some re-work that week, I was ready for
the session. The new dance is copied down below.
The session was at 11am on Saturday. I arrived a little after 10am,
hoping to attend Chrissy Fowler's caller's workshop, but ran into the
band in the hallway. I had worked with Calliope a couple of times before
on visits to Maine, so it was nice to be familiar with them. They were
putting together tune sets, so we were able to plan out the session, get
the feel for each dance set and pick the tunes ahead of time. This made
things very easy on stage. We started late, so to fit in 4 dances turned
out to be very tight. Having the tunes picked let me focus on keeping
the walkthroughs short and the dancers dancing.
To be fair to the dancers, I provided a disclaimer at the beginning of
the session warning them that they wouldn't see their partners too much.
I even jokingly mentioned that the waltz session was across the hall if
they wanted to make goo-goo eyes at their partner. 8^)
Here are the dances that I called:
A1: neighbor do-si-do, neighbor swing
A2: 4 in line down the hall, turn as couples and come back
B1: Circle Left, Circle Right
B2: Right Hand Star, Left Hand Star
I had a choice between this dance and another with unequal choreography,
but this one fit better with the session as a whole.
No use crying over...
A1: Partner balance and swing
A2: Circle Left 3/4, pass thru, neighbor #2 swing
B1: Long Lines (notice 3rd neighbor next to you)
Neighbor #3 allemande left 1+1/2
B2: Ladies Chain
Left hand star, turn away from your star and face your next partner
I had some great positive feedback from a few people after the session.
People did want me to call it all the way through. One person pointed
out to me that there are no anchors in this dance, no partner to turn
to, no shadow, nothing consistent. Another person figured out that if
you mess it up, you can grab just about anyone and start over. It taxed
their brains a bit, but it was early in the festival and people were up
for the challenge.
I had asked Calliope to play easy, happy reels for the first two dances
to keep people's spirits up while doing unfamiliar choreography.
Calliope loves to play jigs, so the next one they set to a nice bouncy
set. I also took pity on the dancers and called some more conventional
dances to finish the session.
Black Bird in the Night
duple improper, waves (neighbor right, ladies, left)
A1: balance wave, rory-o-more slide right
balance wave, rory-o-more slide left
A2 neighbor balance and swing
B1: Ladies do-si-do 1+1/2
B2: long lines, circle left 3/4, pass thru to new waves
The last dance, I asked for driving reels and Calliope picked some great
Sleepless at Pinewoods
A1: Neighbor #1, pull by right, #2 pull by left, #3 pull by right #4
allemande left once
#3 pull by right, #2 pull by left
A2: Neighbor #1 balance and swing
B1: Circle left 3/4, partner swing
B2: Ladies chain, left hand star
I had a lot of fun calling the session and working with Calliope. It
felt great to have almost everything that I wanted to do succeed so
well. I look forward to calling at more festivals in the future!
I'd love to hear how other people are doing (especially the people who
are newer to calling)!
Happy calling and dancing!!
I do say that in the walkthrough. That's the most satisfying part of the dance in my opinion.
Good point Chris, and a great dance.
-------------- Original message --------------
From: "Chris Page" <chriscpage(a)gmail.com>
> On 4/12/07, richgoss(a)comcast.net wrote:
> > Bevy of Butterflies - Bob Isaacs and Chris Page Improper
> > A1: (Next) Gent alle left 1 1/2, Scoop up partner
> > w/Partner Star prom across, butterfly twirl
> > A2: Ladies gypsy right 1x
> > Partner swing
> > B1: R/L thru across, Ladies alle right 1 1/2
> > B2: Ladies Scoop up Neighbor (with lady's arm on top)
> > Star prom, across, Neighbor swing
> Technical note on the B2:
> The original intent was
> B2: Women star promenade neighbor to other side (women's left arm
> above man's right arm) 
> Clockwise butterfly whirl 
> Butterfly whirl melts into a neighbor swing 
> (explaining why the woman's arm should be above)
> Who knows what folk process will do to it, though....
> -Chris Page
> San Diego
> Callers mailing list
Here you go:
Through the Looking Glass Wendy Greenberg
PROPER [all cross over]
A1: Neighbor Same Sex Mirror Allemande 1 1/2 (ones split twos)
TWOS swing [end facing down - the current neighbors]
A2: In a Ring of Four, Balance, Circle Left 1/2
Partner Balance, Ones Cast Out & Down WHILE Twos Two-Hand Turn Left
B1: Ones Turn Contra Corners [Men with men corners, women with women
B2: Ones Balance & Swing
I got the dance directly from Wendy in Texas, perhaps at the Ted Sannella
weekend where she called it in the "local callers" session. She since moved
with her husband Mark to Bemidji, Minnesota. Note that they are NOT the
parents of a baseball player who was hit on the head a year or so ago.
(That was the first hit when I just googled Wendy.)
Somehow I've never gotten around to calling the dance. Where di you happen
to hear of it?
On 4/12/07, Jeffrey Petrovitch <jeffrey.petrovitch(a)verizon.net> wrote:
> Looking for some help... Looking for interesting contra dances with a
> star promenades.? Also wondering if anyone has the dance sequence
> "Through The Looking Glass" by Wendy Greenberg.
William J. Watson
Hi Chris, Thanks for the session at DE! I really had a ball.
It was good to have that session early in the day, as it required
More brain power (esp. No use crying over...) an excellent
Dance that I aspire to call some day (thanks for the calls)
Caller needs to be on top of it all the way through.
You melded well with the band.(can't go wrong with
It was good to hear you in the Medley as well.
Your calling style is evolving in a positive direction. Very enjoyable!
I'm calling my 1or 2 dances (literally) a month working on timing and
voicing. Refining my dance book, knocking the wheat form the chaff.
Waiting for that big gig (may have to go to Saskatoon to get it ;-))
Thanks keep the good works