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
Speaking of dances with missing details, I have a great dance called
Fruit Punch. Diane Silver called it at Bogue Banks Boogie a few years
ago. Not sure who wrote it (maybe Diane?).
I evidently wrote it down wrong since it doesn't progress but instead
keeps sending the dancers back and forth. Someone said it felt like
it was missing a circle somewhere. Does it start with a circle left
half way into a slide left? Does anyone have the correct
choreography? I haven't heard back from Diane yet about this question.
What I have is this:
Fruit Punch by Diane or?
I have Improper written down, but it looks like a Becket.
A1 With couple on L diagonal, Yearn to new Neighbors and fall straight
Ladies Allem R 1+1/2 (8)
A2 N Balance & Swing (16)
B1 Take hands in a ring.
Balance the ring (4)
Pass through to an ocean wave (4)
Balance the wave (4)
N Allemande R x1 (4)
B2 Ladies Allemande L 1+1/2 to partner (8)
Partner swing (8)
Thanks for any clarification anyone might have.
There was a two-part video previously available on the WMUR TV (Manchester,
NH) web site on the history of contra dancing. IIRC, it had footage from
the RPDLW. I'd linked to it from the http://mondaycontras.com site but WMUR
apparently redesigned their site and those links no longer work (and
searching uncovered nothing). Does anyone have an alternative location
where that material is posted?
Concerning Paul's suggestions, what is the sequence for Paul's suggestion "To Have & To Hold" ?
I found the sequences for the other two:
The second time around, Improper by Jim Kitch
A1 N gypsy & sw
A2 M almd left 1 1/2; 1/2 hey
B1. P gyspy & sw
B2. Long lines; Cir left 3/4, pass thru
Bowl of Cherries, Improper by Sue Rosen
A1 N Dsd & swing
A2 Promenade across, W ch to P
B1 W gypsy each other, then sw P
B2 Circle left, Cross Trails (pass thru across, pass N by left shoulder to face new N)
Michael Fuerst 802 N Broadway Urbana IL 61801 217-239-5844
From: Paul Wilde <zenyente(a)gmail.com>
To: Michael Fuerst <mjerryfuerst(a)yahoo.com>; Caller's discussion list <callers(a)sharedweight.net>
Sent: Friday, November 30, 2012 1:19 AM
Subject: Re: [Callers] What is the best contra dance(s) ever written?
Three of my favorite contemporary dances are:
To Have & to Hold by Don Flaherty
The Second Time Around (apologies, author temporarily slipped my mind)
Bowl of Cherries by Sue Rosen
Not intentional, but there isn't a balance in one of them.
Kalia said, "a right and left through over and back (4 changes of rights
and lefts for you English dancers)".
Q1: Why for English dancers? Dancers in England do R&L Throughs, and I
am pretty sure that ECD dancers in the USA do them as well.
Q2: "Four changes" does NOT (to the best of my knowledge) have any
courtesy turns in it, whereas wherever I have danced in the UK or the
USA (extensively in both countries) R&L Throughs DO. How do you do a
Q3: When the dance is proper like this, then the two men are courtesy
turning each other - is that what makes the difference? In my
experience the men turn shoulder to shoulder, possibly with arms around
each other, but they still do a turn which wouldn't happen in "four
changes". (And the ladies likewise of course.)
Q4: Does anyone know how a R&L Through was done, and with what styling,
back when this dance was written?
John Sweeney, Dancer, England john(a)modernjive.com 01233 625 362
http://www.contrafusion.co.uk for Dancing in Kent
My all-around favorite to begin any dance has long been Don Armstrong's
"Broken Sixpence". It moves a lot, introduces dancers to each other, is easy
for beginners to comprehend, and would look familiar to square dancers. It's
all about the fun!
John B. Freeman, SFTPOCTJ
I've been listening a lot lately to Elixir's album "Rampant" and Wild
Asparagus's "From the Floor Up". I really like them just as upbeat
music to listen to. KGB's waltz album "The Red Light of Evening" is in
that class, too. What are some of your favorite contra band recordings,
and what is it about them that really gets your tail wagging?
I have been known to sing along with the band on a fiddle tune now and
then. One of the bands that I used to work with played tunes that most bands
didn't play. I would often be asked by the band to sing along as they played
"Waltz Across Texas". This was usually well received by the dancers. Some
would join in on the chorus. The band and I usually sang along with "Just
Because" when it was used as a polka. The dancers seemed to appreciate our
playfulness. I have also, rarely, sung along to Petronella. Then, there are the
times when a band didn't show up, or I was asked to call with no notice. I have
had to sing and hum for several dances over the years.
John B. Freeman, SFTPOCTJ