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.
Just picked up a new dance last night. Gaye had the title, but didn't
know an author. Does anyone recognize this?
Contra House - Becket
A1 Gents lead full Hey (GL, NR, LL, PR, GL, NR...)
On last pass, ladies catch LH, give RH to partner in short wave
A2 Balance Wave, P Alle R 1/2; Gents Alle L 1/2, give RH to N
Balance Wave; N Alle R 3/4
B2 New N B&S
B2 Gents Alle L 1 1/2
In Chris's extensive list, I noted Ted Sannella's dance "Bonny Jean." Named for
Ted's wife, Jean, the dance was composed in 1975, and Ted said that as far as
he knew it was the first modern contra dance to incorporate a hey for four. In
my experience, heys didn't start to enter the contra repertoire very much until
the 1980s, when it could take a very long time indeed to teach the unfamilar figure
Similarly, Ted's "Fiddleheads" incorporated a Petronella twirl decades before
others started to explore that possibility.
I'd recommend to any callers on the list who are not familiar with his two collections--
"Balance and Swing" and "Swing the Next"--that they obtain copies. They're available
from CDSS and are very useful additions to any caller's library.
My wife and I like spinning off each other in Heys. But we very rarely
meet in the middle of a Hey :-(
Flirtation Reel is a great example of a dance where you meet your
Partner in the middle of the Hey, but I can't find any other dances
where that happens.
Does anyone know of any other good dances where you meet your Partner in
the middle of a Hey?
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
Dancing in Kent
This isn't quite the same thing, but I like ricochet heys, and I
thought it would be nice to be doing the ricochet with your own
partner. So I wrote a couple of dances where partners meet in the
hey. I suppose they could be done without the ricochet and the
partners could spin off each other. In the first one, the 2s are
doing the hey while the 1s ricochet. In the second the 1s hey while
the 2s ricochet. The first is a little more difficult, but both 1s
and 2s get to swing, even though it is unequal. The second has the
ones swing and a neighbor swing. I first danced these heys in a dance
called Huntsville's Queen Bee Hey by Jane Ewing, where the women walk
the hey pattern while the men ricochet. I figured that if the men
were doing the hey it would be a King Bee Hey (so I wrote one like
that) and so I named these Worker Bee Hey #1 and #2. Didn't know they
were called ricochet heys until later. I'm just copying these from a
little book I put together, sorry if there is duplication of any
details. It is also possible that version 2, if you leave out the
ricochet hey aspect, may have been devised by someone else, as it is
Worker Bee Hey #1 Martha Wild
Duple improper September 24, 2006
A1 Down the set four in line (1s inside)
Turn as couples and return*, face in^
A2 “Worker bee” hey@, 2s start passing right shoulder
B1 2s gypsy and swing, end swing facing up!
B2 Handy-hand allemande ~1 ½ times (2s on the inside to start)
1s swing and face down
* A little odd as the men are on the right of the women for the turn.
^ The line is not bent, all just turn to face center, 2s facing each
other, 1s behind.
@ I thought it would be nice to do the push off of a “queen bee” hey
with one’s own partner. In this case, the #2 couple does a full hey,
passing right shoulders to start, while the #1 couple meets at the
center and pushes off backwards in little counterclockwise circles.
It helps to instruct the 1s to stand a little above the 2s while they
swing so they see them when they end and are ready for the handy-hand
Worker Bee Hey #2 Martha Wild
Duple Improper September 24, 2006
A1 Do-si-do neighbor
A2 Four in line down the set
Turn as couples, come back up
B1 Face in, “Worker Bee” hey, 1s start^
B2 1s gypsy and swing
^ Worker bee hey is as described above.
I like version 1 because both 1s and 2s get a partner swing. This is
an easier version, but unequal.
On Aug 21, 2011, at 9:00 AM, callers-request(a)sharedweight.net wrote:
> Send Callers mailing list submissions to
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> than "Re: Contents of Callers digest..."
> Today's Topics:
> 1. Heys Where Partners Meet (John Sweeney)
> 2. Re: Callers Digest, Vol 84, Issue 15 (Tom Hinds)
> 3. Re: Heys Where Partners Meet (Luke Donev)
> 4. Re: 50% rule (Richard Hart)
> Message: 1
> Date: Sun, 21 Aug 2011 12:32:23 +0100
> From: "John Sweeney" <info(a)contrafusion.co.uk>
> To: <callers(a)sharedweight.net>
> Subject: [Callers] Heys Where Partners Meet
> Message-ID: <21E3296A26AB4820B1BCF3FF5D672895@JohnT400>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
> My wife and I like spinning off each other in Heys. But we very
> meet in the middle of a Hey :-(
> Flirtation Reel is a great example of a dance where you meet your
> Partner in the middle of the Hey, but I can't find any other dances
> where that happens.
> Does anyone know of any other good dances where you meet your
> Partner in
> the middle of a Hey?
> Happy dancing,
> 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
> Dancing in Kent
> Message: 2
> Date: Sun, 21 Aug 2011 09:28:00 -0400
> From: Tom Hinds <twhinds(a)earthlink.net>
> To: callers(a)sharedweight.net
> Subject: Re: [Callers] Callers Digest, Vol 84, Issue 15
> Message-ID: <94D71EA1-0AA5-4F85-971A-35A3C71E6B7B(a)earthlink.net>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII; delsp=yes; format=flowed
> Although I can't answer your first question about keeping track of
> all the dances, I can say something about what constitutes a new
> dance. I remember Ted Sannella saying that a dance is new if it has
> 50% new or unique choreography. By his definition if 50% or more of
> the dance is different than any other dance then it's a new dance.
> If a dance has less than 50% it's a variation.
> He didn't go into any more specifics and I wasn't wise enough to ask
> any questions. But if you look at some of the old dances like
> Petronella and Hull's victory, they have identical B parts and unique
> A parts. The same applies to Chorus Jig and Rory O' More.
> Squares can also follow this 50% rule. For example there are a
> number of squares like Queen's Quadrille that have unique A parts
> while the B part is circle left half, swing corner, promenade.
> Message: 3
> Date: Sun, 21 Aug 2011 09:59:54 -0400
> From: Luke Donev <luke.donev(a)gmail.com>
> To: "Caller's discussion list" <callers(a)sharedweight.net>
> Subject: Re: [Callers] Heys Where Partners Meet
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
> John Sweeney <info(a)contrafusion.co.uk> wrote:
>> Flirtation Reel is a great example of a dance where you meet your
>> in the middle of the Hey, but I can't find any other dances where
> Hi John,
> I think the structure of Flirtation Reel (*http://tinyurl.com/
> highlights why it's uncommon. The down the hall of *A1* seems the
> way of setting up partners back to back at the start of a hey for
> *A2*. The
> *B1* neighbor swing flows well after the hey, which leaves you *B2*
> to get a
> partner swing and progression in.
> There are ways to gain the choreographic latitude you'd need.
> If you're willing to spread a hey across phrases (I've met folks
> who detest
> that) you could shorted the neighbor swing and still end the swing
> on phrase
> (as opposed to interrupting a swing half phrase, which is
> unpopular). For
> *Restless Sunday Morning*
> 2s half figure eight and a little more to face their partner in the
> of a line of four
> 2s start a hey for four passing partner by left
> finish hey for four, 2s have extra pass in middle
> Neighbor swing on gent's home side*
> Circle Left,
> Partner swing *
> Ladies chain across,
> long lines forward and back
> The *B*'s have a lot more freedom for the partner swing and
> those are just some of what you could do.
> If you're against splitting the hey, you could compress the
> position results
> of the line of four:
> *After the Honeymoon*
> start with the 1s between the 2s, facing neighbor
> Pass Neighbor by Right to start a hey
> Neighbor balance and swing
> Give and (men) take
> Partner swing (gent's home side)
> Circle Left 3/4
> Balance the ring
> 2s make an arch, 1s duck through and move down to between new 2s,
> I think as a style point, I might teach the *B2*'s arch duck as the
> 1s drop
> partner's hand and are somewhat hand-casted through the arch by
> their 2s.
> Without a few folks to play with it in my living room, I'm not sure
> The *B1*'s give and take could be a Circle Left 3/4 for a simpler
> dance, but
> there's already a circle left in the dance, and I'm guessing this
> be called in a situation where a give and take was problematic.
> I can't say that these are *good* dances where you pass your
> partner mid-set
> in a hey; but they're dances. Thanks for the question that got my
> choreographing. Hopefully others chip in (especially if I accidentally
> re-wrote someone's dance).
> Luke Donev
> Message: 4
> Date: Sun, 21 Aug 2011 10:50:04 -0400
> From: Richard Hart <rich(a)harts.mv.com>
> To: Caller's discussion list <callers(a)sharedweight.net>
> Subject: Re: [Callers] 50% rule
> Message-ID: <4E511B1C.4050800(a)harts.mv.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed
> There's one dance variation that I've recently noticed.
> Recently, I've noticed that callers and dancers have slightly
> changed some existing dances. In both cases that I remember (Trip
> to Lambertville & Tica Tica Timing) a R&L over has been changed to
> a promenade across. Rights and lefts do seem to be more difficult,
> especially at bigger dances, and with a larger proportion of
> beginners. The promenade does appear to make the dance smoother in
> these cases.
> Is it really true that right & lefts are becoming less popular in
> large MUCDs? Are other dances being modified in this way now?
> Rich Hart.
> Tom Hinds remarked on 8/21/2011 9:28 AM:
>> Although I can't answer your first question about keeping track of
>> all the dances, I can say something about what constitutes a new
>> dance. I remember Ted Sannella saying that a dance is new if it
>> has 50% new or unique choreography. By his definition if 50% or
>> more of the dance is different than any other dance then it's a
>> new dance. If a dance has less than 50% it's a variation.
>> He didn't go into any more specifics and I wasn't wise enough to
>> ask any questions. But if you look at some of the old dances
>> like Petronella and Hull's victory, they have identical B parts
>> and unique A parts. The same applies to Chorus Jig and Rory O' More.
>> Squares can also follow this 50% rule. For example there are a
>> number of squares like Queen's Quadrille that have unique A parts
>> while the B part is circle left half, swing corner, promenade.
>> Callers mailing list
> Callers mailing list
> End of Callers Digest, Vol 84, Issue 16
Although I can't answer your first question about keeping track of
all the dances, I can say something about what constitutes a new
dance. I remember Ted Sannella saying that a dance is new if it has
50% new or unique choreography. By his definition if 50% or more of
the dance is different than any other dance then it's a new dance.
If a dance has less than 50% it's a variation.
He didn't go into any more specifics and I wasn't wise enough to ask
any questions. But if you look at some of the old dances like
Petronella and Hull's victory, they have identical B parts and unique
A parts. The same applies to Chorus Jig and Rory O' More.
Squares can also follow this 50% rule. For example there are a
number of squares like Queen's Quadrille that have unique A parts
while the B part is circle left half, swing corner, promenade.
1 I've always wondered how one can know if choreographers are
duplicating some dance that's already been done?
Is it pretty much always callers comparing notes or is anyone out there
making attempts to catalog dances move by move, maybe in a spreadsheet or
something like that?
2 Comparing dances, how much variation between sequences qualifies a
dance as an individual separate dance, or is custom that rigid?
My question is prompted by:
In another thread Linda Leslie wrote about "Rollin To The Grey Eagle"
"I have this same dance in my collection with the name "32 Seconds" by Tom
Calwell. I don't know who might have written it first."
Jim, Not a caller just lurking.
Two questions: Does anyone have an email address or contact information for
Hank Morris? (please send off-list, thanks)
I have the name of his dance as *Rollin' to the
Grey Eagle, *but I believe this might not be exactly right, does anyone know
I have rendered a video of the dance for the dance archive that I would
like to get his permission to use.