I can only speak with reference to calling at NEFFA, as I have never applied to DownEast. As some of you may know that Linda Leslie is NEFFA's program chair, I will note that the program chair does not select performers for contra sessions.
Regarding NEFFA 2007, the following notice is now posted at http://neffa.org/perf_app.html - The Program Committee is not prepared to take your application at this time, since it is too late to apply for this year's NEFFA Festival. Please note that the application to perform is always available during the month of September, with a deadline in October. If you'd like to get an e-mail notice of application availability, send a blank e-mail to NEFFA_Performers-subscribe(a)yahoogroups.com
So you can note on your calendar that September is a good time to check the NEFFA web site, and also arrange for a notice to pop up in your e-mail.
The NEFFA application invites you to come up with a briefly-described theme for your session, with a title of 20 characters or less. IMO, use your own judgment as to how important the theme is. If you are offering a concept that's really meaningful to you, don't be afraid to describe it. If what you really want to do is just call some hot contras, then IMO I wouldn't go overboard on the theme.
Unlike Northwest Folklife, callers and bands apply SEPARATELY to the New England Folk Festival. And I believe that this is a very good thing for beginning callers who hope to have a chance at getting onstage. This mix-and-match policy gives a fresh perspective for experienced performers, and can be an eye-opening experience for newcomers who may get to work with seasoned veterans. I will never forget calling at NEFFA with Northern Spy, a band that has worked with caller David Millstone for 25 years. And where was David during this session? Out on the floor, happily dancing to the music of his own band. NEFFA's selection process made that wonderful hour possible for me.
For what it's worth, the first year I successfully applied I asked for a "Festival Orchestra" slot, which means that instead of calling a themed, hour-long session I called two dances in the Main Hall with the assembled orchestra and then got off the stage as the next Festival Orchestra caller had a turn. IMO, the key here (as well as in submitting a session proposal) is to choose dances that you know by heart, can teach well, fully believe in, and love to share with a crowd. You don't want to have second thoughts as you approach the microphone.
If you're wondering why performer applications are required so far in advance of a festival, note that NEFFA may have 1700 performers, many of whom perform in multiple sessions (perhaps performing alone, and with a participatory dance group, and also with a concert performance group!). You can't doublebook a performer (or larger groups to which she may belong), you have to give her time to move from one venue to another, plus a bunch of other scheduling etceteras that would drive me loony to contemplate further. How scheduling was done in the days before computers is beyond me.
Robert Jon Golder
164 Maxfield St
New Bedford, MA 02740
The post on walk-throughs for new dancers got me thinking about
recruiting new dancers. This straddles dance caller and dance
organizer, but I'd like to hear people's responses.
I'm curious about people's experiences recruiting new dancers. I've
seen several dances that do a lower cost for first time dancers to try
to lower the barrier for entry. Has any group tried doing a coupon for
a discount when they come back a second time?
I feel like the venues for dances are usually such that folks don't
randomly wander in. If folks show up for a first time, they've decided
to come (or were brought). Does knowing there is a discount for first
timers help make them come? When there is a discount, how often do the
first timers know that coming in? I'm pondering the scenario where you
charge full price for the first time, when they've committed to coming
out, and then give them a coupon to come back at a discount price
their second time.
I know a lot of people who tried contra once and were hooked, and I've
seen people who try for a little bit and then never come back. Is it
worth trying to up the likelihood of a second experience, at what
fractional cost for the first? Or should the focus be on that first
experience, and making the barriers for entry as low as possible?
If a group has the resources, then it can just say that the first two
dances are cheaper, but I feel like giving someone a reminder,
business card sized, with the website to check for more information,
is a nice way of having them think about the dance at least once more.
Do callers doing one night gigs announce local dance options if they
know them? Or do you only talk about it with the folks who come up and
ask? Presumably if a caller has been brought in, the organizer of the
party knows the folks at the party and the local dance scene. Is it on
the caller or the organizer to spread information about other chances
to dance? And do you broadcast wide, or focus on the folks who seem
really in to it. I think culturally, at a societal level, we've lost
the sense that we can dance after our 20s at things besides weddings,
which is a real shame.
I¹ve been getting lots of inquires about running Caller's Companion on an
iPad. I do not yet own an iPad - I¹m kind of waiting for Rev 2 that will
hopefully have a camera built in but based on everything I have read,
Caller's Companion should run unmodified on an iPad with the use of the
FileMaker Go app. FileMaker Go has a few limitations so I really need to
test it with CC to make sure there aren¹t any showstoppers, and I would want
to see what I could do to optimize CC for the iPad.
I¹m looking for someone who would be willing to loan me their iPad for about
a week, so I can test CC on it. I would be willing to trade a Caller's
Companion license for the loan of your iPad.
I will need to sync your iPad with my computer and iTunes, so you would need
to make sure you had everything backed up from your iPad particularly any
files that you might have created or been editing on it. When I send the
iPad back to you, you will need to resync to your computer again to restore
your music, apps and settings.
Please contact me directly off-list if you are interested. Time frame is
I can't wait to try the alternate Wood Phoenix, sounds fun. And with
the right group Wood Duck. You're probably looking for more complex
dances but for an Easy Waltz Circle for non-dancers I like:
Even number of dancers in a circle (gender doesn't matter and they
don't have to know how to waltz)
Count off 1, 2 around Circle
Waltz step In; Back; In; Back
1s turn/roll across 2s to right (2 waltz steps)
All waltz in place (2 waltz steps)
Continue until back to original place (if a smallish circle) OR
caller calls changes
Then 2s cross over and 1s stay in place (alternating back and
forth between 1s and 2s)
PS - Has anyone danced/called Pat Shaw's "Margaret's Waltz"? Love
the tune (particularly the original version as in Pinewoods Collection)
but I've never seen it danced.
Sue Robishaw ~ sue(a)manytracks.com
The Circle Waltz that Alan mentions is my all-time favorite as well, but I know
it by the name of "Oslo Waltz Mixer." I like it because, along with the reasons
Alan gave, it's complex enough for experienced dancers to really enjoy it while
being simple enough for beginners to succeed if it's taught well.
For ONS, I also like La Escoba (the Broom Dance), which has a funny show-off
component as well as long waltzing portions.
(Line up facing P. Begin w/ one extra gent, who waltzes/cavorts with the broom
between the lines while everyone watches. Suddenly he drops the broom & grabs a
partner. Everyone rushes for a P, all waltz. When phrase ends, line up again w/
new man out dancing w/ broom.)
I wamt to try Valse Cadena (the Chain Waltz mixer) soon. Anyone had experience
Alan Winston said,
<<"Circle Waltz" (Big circle, balance and roll-away 4x, with this one balance
in and out, roll in, repeat going out, chassee in, chassee out, waltz around)
or some variation, because it's so accessible, connects the whole room
repeatedly, lets you see most of the opposite-sex people in the room if only
for a fleeting moment, and works with many flavors of waltz.)>>
I tell them to imagine a pole where their joined hands are; one person
is moving forwards around the pole, the other is moving backwards. Then
I tell them they are now pole-dancing :-)
It is important to keep the joined arms in a strong "W" to get a good
sharing of energy.
It is also known as a Hand Cast and a Wheel Around in various dance
John Sweeney, Dancer, England john(a)modernjive.com 01233 625 362 &
07802 940 574
http://www.contrafusion.co.uk for Contra Dancing in Kent
Looks like fun.
When actives move forward, does that mean they go between the new
neighbor, or stay with the old neighbor? I.e., is it double progression?
On 10/9/2010 12:00 PM, callers-request(a)sharedweight.net wrote:
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> Today's Topics:
> 1. Name of a dance. (Tom Hinds)
> 2. Re: Name of a dance. (Luke Donev)
> 3. Re: Name of a dance. (Andrea Nettleton)
> Message: 1
> Date: Fri, 8 Oct 2010 22:57:21 -0400
> From: Tom Hinds<twhinds(a)earthlink.net>
> To: callers(a)sharedweight.net
> Subject: [Callers] Name of a dance.
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII; format=flowed
> Does anybody know the name and author of this dance?
> A1 Long lines go forward and back.
> Gate once and a quarter with the actives moving forward.
> (The caller I learned this from probably used the term cast off).
> A2 Line of four down the hall, turn alone...........
> B1 Circle left three-quarters and swing partner
> B2 Circle left three-quarters and swing neighbor.
> Thanks for your help.
> Message: 2
> Date: Fri, 8 Oct 2010 23:16:58 -0500
> From: Luke Donev<luke.donev(a)gmail.com>
> To: "Caller's discussion list"<callers(a)sharedweight.net>
> Subject: Re: [Callers] Name of a dance.
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
> I've got that as Kinematic Vorticity by Carol Orman.
> On Fri, Oct 8, 2010 at 9:57 PM, Tom Hinds<twhinds(a)earthlink.net> wrote:
>> Does anybody know the name and author of this dance?
>> A1 Long lines go forward and back.
>> Gate once and a quarter with the actives moving forward.
>> (The caller I learned this from probably used the term cast off).
>> A2 Line of four down the hall, turn alone...........
>> B1 Circle left three-quarters and swing partner
>> B2 Circle left three-quarters and swing neighbor.
>> Thanks for your help.
>> Callers mailing list
Does anybody know the name and author of this dance?
A1 Long lines go forward and back.
Gate once and a quarter with the actives moving forward.
(The caller I learned this from probably used the term cast off).
A2 Line of four down the hall, turn alone...........
B1 Circle left three-quarters and swing partner
B2 Circle left three-quarters and swing neighbor.
Thanks for your help.
Tony Parkes has been running a square series in Belmont that's starting up
again tonight. He calls, I anchor the band. I've had a great time doing this
and have learned TONS, partly because the whole evening is squares (New
England and southern, plus Kentucky running sets/circles/Fr.Can longways, a
huge mix) so I can get out of the contra groove for a whole evening, really
sink into a different way of playing/responding to the caller/dancers.
The other reason I've learned so much is because of the dancers - there's a
small but loyal core of dancers who are old enough to have been dancing
since before the big split - they were doing evenings of mixed contras and
squares back in the days when that was still the norm. Just watching them,
cueing in to their body language and phrasing, has taught me more than I can
explain in words.
I've heard contra callers say that they'd like more time with squares - that
it's hard to improve when you can only call one or two per night at the
usual contracentric dances. Tony and I have been talking about opening up
the evening to other callers - letting this dance be a venue where other
folks can come in and share the mike. Any interest out there? Anyone
Boston/New England callers who'd like the chance to call a whole bunch of
squares in an evening, practice communicating with a supportive/seasoned
band, observe how Tony does it, get feedback etc? Is this an idea we should
I'd be interested in your feedback - thanks!