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
I recently had the following exchange on a different list with Michael
Shapiro (guitarist with U4):
>>> U4 just played the SwingShift weekend in Lexington/Berea. The caller was
Barbara Groh. She did something that I think most callers should do, but I
haven't seen before. After the sets were formed and people had done the hand
four, she then broke up the beginners sets that had formed at the end of the
lines. She asked then to move forward and intersperse themselves with the
more advanced dancers (so that they were more toward the beggining of the
line and the foursomes were not all beginners).
She was also good at letting the music be heard ...
>> Regarding the caller asking sets to reform in order to spread the less
experienced dancers throughout the hall, much tact is required. Generally,
callers strive to avoid calling attention to particular dancers other than
when asking people to watch a demonstration, but asking people to change
sets can have the effect of making them feel like there is attention on
them. In addition, newish dancers want to dance with people they know, even
if those friends may also be newish dancers.
>> Speaking to the entire crowd, I do encourage experienced dancers to share
their experience by asking someone they've never met to dance at least once
in the evening, and praise the community for being so welcoming to newcomer
dancers. So while I might be thinking "let's break up this clump of
confusion," it would not be good to say something that draws attention to
"you people right here."
>> I have asked, off mic, for a set of experienced dancers to offer to
repartner with a set of inexperienced dancers down the line.
To this list, I ask:
I'd be interested in the wording that Barbara Groh used (which I'm assuming
was quite gentle). I'm also guessing other callers on this list have
developed tactful ways to address this issue.
I've never called DuQuoin Races, but I frequently use Ted Sannella's CDS Reel, which also has an 8 ct swing that ends in the middle of the phrase.
I always say to the band, "This has an 8ct swing that ends half-way through the phrase in A1, so can you give me tunes with very clear 8 ct chunks in the A? Also, if you can emphasize the endpoint of the swing, and the start of the long lines, it will really help the dancers remember." I also tell the dancers "This part is especially fun when you remember to end the swing just in time to surge forward for the long lines."
Probably because of these two things, the lines are pretty much together and on-time after the swing. (At least, they're as together and on-time as w a 'typically timed" swing that's followed by llf&b.)
dance series www.belfastflyingshoes.org
telephone 207-338-0979 cell 603-498-3506
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I have been trying to work out how Orace Johnson's becket contra works.
I have the dance from the year 2000 syllabus of the New England Dance Legacy
Weekend, in other years also called the Ralph Page Legacy Weekend.
*Du Quoin Races *by Orace Johnson (1991)
As called by: Laura Johannes
Formation: Contra, Becket formation
Reels: *Gravel Walk/Molly Rankin's/Sarah's New Tune *(Sarah Hydorn)
A1- Balance ring, pass through to an ocean wave
And balance again, allemande right 3/4 to form long waves (men facing out,
A2- Balance, women cross set to where partner is standing as men turn into
the place of the
woman on their right. Form new long waves with the women facing out and the
Balance, “rotate” again (men walking across set, women looping around to the
B1- Swing partner on the side (the same side you started on)
Circle left halfway, roll away with a half sashay to trade places with
neighbors (across set)
B2- Circle left halfway, roll away with a half sashay to trade places with
partners (along set)
Circle left halfway, and shift left along the set to face new neighbors
To “pass through to an ocean wave," begin to pass through across the set.
Ladies catch each other's left hand and
turn just 1/4 as the gents cross all the way, turn right, and take partners’
right hands to form wavy lines-of-4 across.**
I don't seem to get far as after A1 I have partners beside each other in the
long wavy lines. In A2 the ladies should cross to their partners place. I'm
sure David Smukler hasn't made a mistake in his record of the dance, but I
cant find my mistake. Can anyone help me?
Hi SW organizers & callers,
This came to our Belfast Flying Shoes email address. I've heard about Burning Man, and imagine this would be a wild undertaking. Thought I'd spread the word, to cast the net wide for Mr Stowe.
PS The Yahoo group seems to lay the vision all out (having given it a fast skim...).
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Mark Stowe <mkstowegnv(a)gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Feb 25, 2010 at 10:54 AM
Subject: first contradance camp in the 20+ years of Burning Man
Dear local dance/music contact person,
I am contacting a very large number of dance and music groups in the hopes of finding the rare souls who can make a contradance camp happen at Burning Man. I would be enormously grateful if you would post the email below to your local email list/ Facebook page, and write back to me to confirm that you have posted it. (I am trying to avoid subscribing to countless lists.) Please feel free to modify it or offer me your advice. Thanks so much, and thanks for all your volunteer work.
Hi, I am organizing what will apparently be the first contradance camp in the 20+ years of Burning Man (a week of extreme art in an extreme environment - http://burningman.com). Even though there are a large number of 'burners' who are contradancers, we need to get this message out to as many people as possible in particular to be able to line up callers and musicians.
In the discussion group
I lay out the logistical challenges and a preliminary plan for funding and otherwise making such a camp a reality (it will be easiest if you choose 'view all' and click the arrow that will reverse the default reverse chronological order).
I would be very grateful if you could pass this email on to anyone you know who might be interested. I am sending this out to as many contradance discussion groups as I can, but I won't get 'all of them' without help. Please post to the groups you know and send me a note telling me what group(s) you have posted to.
Thanks and best wishes, Mark Stowe mkstowegnv(a)gmail.com
Hotmail: Trusted email with powerful SPAM protection.
--- Greg wrote:
That is the technique used by the musicians who insert
parts of recognizable songs or tunes into their medleys.
--- end of quote ---
A wonderful example of this came at Winter Dance Week at Brasstown two months
ago. Daron Douglas and Karen Axelrod were the musicians for two different
workshops each day in English country dance. Beforehand, they had jotted down
the basic chord structure of dozens of Christmas carols, and while I was
teaching a particular dance, they'd confer with each other about what might fit.
Not always, but frequently enough that we started looking for them, in the
middle of a classic ECD tune there'd be brief quote from one or another carol,
often going by so quickly that we were sometimes left wondering, "Did I hear
what I just thought I heard?" It was delightful fun and masterfully executed.
Another way to approach themes is to pick a different sort of organizing
principle. Knowing that I'll be calling Money Musk (a triple minor contra) at my
home dance next month-- International Money Musk Month, you know!-- and
recognizing that March is the third month, we'll be doing a "Three" program:
triple minor contras, of course, triplets, triple progression contras, dances
with three swings in each round, three-facing three dances, squares with three
dancers on each side, dances in triangle formation, dances that require
three-part tunes, and so on. Yes, we will probably do "Three Thirty-Three" but
the broad THREE concept gives me much more flexibility than simply sticking to
tune names as the organizing principle.
Once quite a while back in order to create a Valentine's theme for the
evening, I put together a program as I usually would, looking for good
pacing, balance of figures and interaction, appropriate to the
expected crowd, etc. Then, I wrote a series of light-hearted verses
like limericks, roses are red..., and little couplets that I read as
folks got ready for each dance. That way, I could call just what
seemed right, and create a festive atmosphere at the same time.
Now, if I could just find those verses...;-)
On Feb 16, 2010, at 12:00 PM, callers-request(a)sharedweight.net wrote:
> From: "Barbara Groh" <barbaragroh(a)bellsouth.net>
> Date: February 15, 2010 12:06:12 PM EST
> To: "Caller's discussion list" <callers(a)sharedweight.net>
> Subject: Re: [Callers] Valentine's theme dance - followup/aftermath
> Reply-To: Caller's discussion list <callers(a)sharedweight.net>
> I agree, Greg....a theme should never carry more importance than the
> actual programming. However, if a caller has a large enough
> collection of dances to choose from, and enough experience to know
> what will work and what won't, then a theme can add a little fun to
> the evening. In other words, having a theme is not NECESSARILY a
> recipe for disaster. But it certainly requires extra care to avoid
> getting in over one's head.
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Greg McKenzie" <gregmck(a)earthlink.net
> To: "Caller's discussion list" <callers(a)sharedweight.net>; <callers(a)sharedweight.net
> Sent: Monday, February 15, 2010 11:25 AM
> Subject: Re: [Callers] Valentine's theme dance - followup/aftermath
>> At 05:20 AM 2/15/2010, Andy Shore wrote:
>>> The program was a bit overly-ambitious for the crowd we got, but it
>>> was fun and we made it through. There were more "new to me" (marked
>>> with the + above) dances than I like to present in an evening,
>>> mostly because I was determined to stick with the theme. In
>>> retrospect that wasn't the best idea.
>> Thank you Andy for this cogent and self-critical analysis. We need
>> more of that. It is clear that you are learning from your
>> I admit that I view dance program "themes" with considerable
>> dread...as soon as I become aware that the caller is embarking upon
>> one. As your analysis reflects, the selection of dances for a
>> "theme" evening often veers far from the course of what program would
>> "work" best for the crowd, the hall, and the music...all for the sake
>> of keeping the names of the dances in character with some
>> "theme." This idea is a recipe for a difficult evening of
>> over-teaching and long walk-throughs and "theme evenings" should be a
>> signal of danger to all in the hall.
>> I wish callers would consider any "theme" to be the developing
>> story-line of all of the dances considered from the perspective of a
>> mixed crowd of dancers looking for an enjoyable social evening. This
>> is how any good evening of contra dance should be programmed and the
>> name of the dance is seldom a useful indicator of where the dance
>> would best be positioned in the evening's program, or if it should be
>> included at all.
>> Just a thought.
>> Callers mailing list
Last summer i was thinking how nice it is to use a roll away to
start another move, and wrote this dance. (On July 13th, strangely
enough.) Do any of you know if someone else has used the same
July 13th Tom Senior Duple Improper
A1 circle Left once;
roll away your N, (women in front of gent),
gents pull by by left to face partner. (women, if so inclined,
can cast Right into the gypsy)
A2 Gypsy swing partner. (or whatever move you like) End facing across.
B1 Forward into a Give and Take, Men pulling Neighbor back.
Swing N, end facing across to take hands in a ring.
B2 Balance ring, twirl right one place,
Balance ring, twirl right one place to face the next couple
(to circle as the dance begins again.)
Thanks for your advice,
Dance while you can.
I have obviously erred considerably in not noticing/learning/calling the
D.Q.R these last few years.
I would like to mend my ways.
Trying to extract the definitive/correct/complete version from the
preceeding streeeeeam of descriptions/discussions is making my eyes roll
back in my head.
Could somebody perhaps post a nice, clean annotated play-by-play? David
M.? Please with sugar on top?
The dance is Becket formation and couples progress in the more common direction,
DuQuoin Races is a superb piece of choreography, I think, but it's not a simple
dance, either for the folks on the floor or for the caller at the mic. It has
many pieces that are unfamiliar for dancers and it's easy for people to get lost
(e.g., in crossing from one wave to the other side to form a new wave.) The
partner swing on the side at the start of B1 helps lost folks get reoriented
again. On the other hand, it's only an 8 count swing, so the caller needs to be
alert to prompt that first circle.
Dancers need to be encouraged for the circles to make 'em large, not to rush.
The tendency is to circle too far, too fast, too small, and then dancers are too
far around the circle for the rollaways, all of which leads to them ultimately
progressing on the wrong side or arriving several beats too early for the start
of the next round of the dance.
Called well and danced well, it's one of my favorites.