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.
Anyone have a tempest formation dance they can share with me? Tempest
formation is a line of 4 facing down between 2 side couples facing in.
I've found one, called The Tempest, but other than the formation itself,
there's nothing particularly challenging about it. I wonder anyone knows of
others. Please let me know.
Thanks in advance!
The Witful Turnip wturnip(a)sympatico.ca
"Ambition is the last refuge of failure."
- Oscar Wilde
Hi to everyone and especially to any dance organizers or organizer-
I'm passing on this promotional info for a local dance organizer. He
notes: Just to be clear, there will not be any "callers training" as
such. Callers are most welcome, but it is about the issues and
mechanics of running dances and organizations.
From the early materials I saw, it looked like it offered some-25+
specific-topic courses grouped under three stages of community
development. Good stuff!
Southeast Dance Leadership Conference:
Tools for a Vibrant Dance Community
October 1-3, Haw River State Park, Summit Conference Center
Browns Summit, NC (near Greensboro)
Presenters will be: Diane Silver (NC), Bruce Hamilton (english caller
from CA), Shawn Brenneman (VA), Rob Harper (Atlanta), and Tyler
The Leadership Conference will be an opportunity to gain tools for
growing, nurturing, and sustaining a thriving dance community. It
will be a time to network with other organizers, callers, musicians,
and dancers from the English, Contra and Square dance communities.
This will be a unique chance to meet and talk on a lot of important
Learn about the business of operating a dance, marketing your skills
or organization, sound operation, care of a dance floor. Share ideas
for dealing with challenges like under- or over-attendance, different
skill levels and generations, atypical (unexpected) events, getting
and keeping help, developing talent, fulfilling your vision and
recognizing when its time to revisit your vision. Outreach and connect
to neighboring organizations. And have fun too!
Format will include classes, facilitated discussion groups, and time
to consult with experts. Opportunities will be provided for
networking. Meetings to take place on request.
The website has more information, and hopefully by this weekend, we
will have longer descriptions of the courses/topics.
On Fri, 25 Jun 2010 11:01:26 -0400,
Will Loving <will(a)dedicationtechnologies.com> wrote:
> Actually, I like Alternating Corners despite the fact
> the caller has to keep calling. And my perception
> is that modern dancers generally like it too compared
> to a more traditional corners dance like Chorus Jig
> where you have to wait to be active (and which may
> never happen if sets are long). For a dance like this,
> sometimes all you need is a Lisa Greenleaf style
> minimalist prompt such as quietly saying "ones" and
> "twos" just to keep things going. I think the alternation
> makes the dance more interesting and I don't see it
> as my purpose to have every dance send dancers off
> into that la-la, altered zen state (that I nonetheless
> cherish as a dancer...)
There are at least a few alternating corners dances out there -- the one that I call has a circle left immediately before the ones and twos need to figure out who is active, so as a caller it is easy to see who to prompt
If there are couples at the top of each set who are not in a circle-of-four, it's the twos' turn; if the top of each set has a full circle-of-four, then it's the ones
At some point in the dance, I have essentially dropped the calls except for prompting "ones" or "twos" to be active -- and occasionally I get distracted and drop that as well, but the dancers always knew what to do when that has happened
Amen, with additional postscript: "... and in your own space on the dance floor."
> Date: Sat, 26 Jun 2010 15:20:58 -0400
> From: Will Loving <will(a)dedicationtechnologies.com>
> I am always mindful as both dancer and caller of Larry Jennings comment in
> one of his books (paraphrased): "Twirl away for all I care, but do it on
> your own time."
The New Busy think 9 to 5 is a cute idea. Combine multiple calendars with Hotmail.
I could swear that I danced Alternating Corners once a long time ago and
when the caller dropped out and we forgot who was supposed to do the contra
corners, and, what I remember is that we ALL did the contra corners, and it
I've never had the nerve to try to do such a thing on purpose, but
theoretically, it should work.
Your corner isn't in his or her place while you're allemanding in the
middle, but then again, neither are you. Done right, all corners get to
their appointed places just in time to allemande left back to their
Has anyone else ever done this?
> I don't like the dance alternating corners because dancers don't
> internalize it properly. They learn it ok, so they can do it, but
> they usually can't handle the caller dropping out. Once the caller
> drops out people forget which turn it is and they have to step back
> in. I've seen this happen even in groups where a caller could drop
> out after two times through on a simplish dance.
> Callers mailing list
For the good are always the merry,
Save by an evil chance,
And the merry love the fiddle
And the merry love to dance. ~ William Butler Yeats
>But you are right. I'm not aware of any regularly scheduled dances for
>basically non-dancers, unless you count Family dances. But a Family dance
>that goes on for a while begins to resemble a contra dance - those darn kids
>learn so fast!
Since my first contra dance I have considered contras to be:
"...regularly scheduled dances for basically non dancers...." This
perception is based upon the fact that there are no separate lessons,
and the events are open to the public. I understand that "barn
dances," might fit this definition more closely. Still, I think
contras are as close as we come to this definition in this
country. More to the point, this might be the best frame from which
callers can view these events. It would certainly place the task of
integrating first-timers into the dance event at the forefront of the
I consider contra dances to be, primarily, social events. The contra
dance form is used because it is so effective at sweeping in
newcomers. Once you begin to re-frame a contra dance as an open
public social event...the task of the caller changes and, I believe,
the event becomes more fun for everyone.
Just a thought.
You said "Wouldn't it follow that sometimes some of the 1.5
square yards will have to be wasted if the width isn't a multiple of 10
feet (for contra) or 15 feet (for English)?"
Absolutely, it is just a quick rule of thumb to get an idea
of the capacity of a hall, i.e, No you can't get 150 people doing a
dance at the same time!
I susepct a wedding party will be happy to squeeze two lines
into that space, especially if you can push the chairs back a bit to
make it slightly bigger.
And of course, for a wedding party, I wouldn't be calling
modern American contras, or what you call English Country Dancing
(Playford-style). I would be selecting simple barn dances such as you
will find at:
I'm not sure if you do this sort of stuff much in America;
when I visit I only ever seem to find contra and ECD (which is fine, as
I love both). But here in England there is a whole other stream of
social folk dance known as Barn Dance or Ceilidh.
Hope that helps.
John Sweeney, Dancer, England john(a)modernjive.com 01233 625 362 &
07802 940 574
http://www.contrafusion.co.uk <http://www.contrafusion.co.uk/> for
Contra Dancing in Kent
I thought I had heard about Bob doing DTBS in Brasstown. I might just have to take a trip there - it's only been 20 years since I was last there. Thanks, David!
>From: David Millstone <David.Millstone(a)valley.net>
>Sent: Jun 17, 2010 3:15 PM
>To: suzanneg(a)wolfenet.com, callers(a)sharedweight.net
>Cc: Tony Mates <CKittyroo(a)aol.com>
>Subject: Re: [Callers] Dare to Be Square Archive
>--- Suzanne Girardot wrote:
>If you are curious about DTBS, we will be having another DTBS weekend in Seattle
>on November 4-7.
>--- end of quote ---
>And Bob Dalsemer is organizing one for the following year at the John C.
>Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC. Dates are November 18-20, 2011. That's
>the weekend before Thanksgiving. Full details coming soon.