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?
I'm looking for interesting/ fun mixers to use at a regular dance series. I haven't had the opportunity to collect any mixers while dancing around this year (they are sometimes few and far between) and so - here I am!
Thanks in advance.
When I dance, I cannot judge, I cannot hate, I cannot separate myself from life. I can only be joyful and whole, that is why I dance. ~Hans Bos~
[apologies for duplicate posting]
Coming up in ten days is the 200th anniversary of Hull's Victory-- August 19,
1812. Callers who have a dance on that weekend might want to mark the occasion
by calling the dance if it's appropriate for your crowd and if the musicians can
play the name tune.
There's a great story that goes along with the details of the battle between the
USS Constitution and the British warship, HMS Guerriere. You can find it told
in "Cracking Chestnuts," available through CDSS. If your dancers are up for it,
you can spin the yarn, or tell it to those interested during the break.
And in A1, I like to encourage dancers to balance forward and back, rather than
the usual right and left; it's a physical remnant of the cannons firing and recoiling.
I just noticed that these two dances, Unruly Reunion by Robert Cromartie
and Monterey Detour by Bob Dalsemer, are identical. I don't know if
I've picked up modified versions, or if they're simply examples of
There must be other known cases of identical dances with different
names. Anyone know a few? It happens in English occasionally as well
(Take a Dance and Ore Boggy being the most well-known).
Borrowdale Exchange can be found here:
It's fun, especially when called to fast-tempo old-time southern Appalachian tunes.
This one has you moving all over the floor.
You'll find a video of a similar three-couple mixer called by Phil Jamison:
In this one, though you mix up partners, you stay with the same threesome.
I've had a lot of fun recently with this mixer figures from the southern Appalachian
You'll see that at the start of the video, people are staying with their partner
but partway through the caller changes the pattern slightly. (You'll see the change
around 1:25 into the video.)
Here's a fun dance from caller/musician Brian DeMarcus, now living in Anchorage
but with a long time in North Carolina:
3x3 Bow Knot Mixer (Brian DeMarcus)
Lines of 3 like Spokes of a Wheel Facing ccw
A1 Lines of 3 Walk Forward (8)
RH High, LH Low, Reverse Direction of Line (8)
A2 Lines of 3 Walk Forward (8)
RH High, LH Low, Reverse Direction of Line (8)
B1 LH High, Rt person duck under to center of set (8)
and Circle Left with others. Two that made arch swing on
the outside of set. (8)
B2 Outside Two Promenade, while insides Circle Rt
Inside join up with any Twosome to reform Lines of 3
The transition from A2 to B1 is a continuous motion.
There are a gazillion circle mixers. Here's one from a Danish choreographer that
will work if the circle can fit nicely onto the floor and if your dancers are
familiar with box the gnat / swat the flea:
Disturbed by Insects (Inga Morton)
Formation: circle of couples, all facing counterclockwise
A1 Promenade (with inside hands joined)
California twirl (then join both hands)
A2 Ladies, push your partner to the center
Gents, push your partner back
Ladies, push your partner to the center
Ladies, go back
B1 With your partner box the gnat
With your opposite to the left swat the flea
With your opposite to the right box the gnat
With your opposite to the left swat the flea
B2 With your opposite to the right balance and swing
Note: After each of the movements in B1, move a little away from the other person.
You can find lots more on the syllabi from the Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend:
Download the Master Index-- it's a spreadsheet in Excel format-- and then go to
the particular year for instructions to the dances you want. You'll find some
under scatter prom, circ mixer, Sicilian mixer, and then there's always one of
several versions of Ninepin, a square with an extra person in the middle.
You can find one version of Ninepin here:
In this version, when the call "all the Ninepins to the center" comes, the Ninepin
is joined by all the others of the same sex as the Ninepin.
Oh dear me. And I thought it was supposed to be 'young people these days' who have no manners with technology...
I wonder what his partner thought of it.
And at least there were no fatal accidents.
This video also contains a good example of why using your smart phone while
contra dancing is a bad idea.
I was calling for the Rochester (NY) English dancers last night, and included a rendition of Hull's Victory with English styling. I did an old version with very nice symmetry (and no partner swing) that I got from Northern Junket. See <http://www.izaak.unh.edu/dlp/NorthernJunket/pages/NJv01/NJv01-11/NJv.01.11.…>.
Excellent, jaunty music was provided by Laurel Sharp and Barb Seppeler. The dance was well received.
My understanding is that the move used to be called only "slice" then
some callers started explaining what is what by telling people that they
should yearn to dance with the people on their left (normally) diagonal
- that was just to emphasise what a slice is all about.
The term became popular and some people started using the word "yearn"
for the move. So slice and yearn are identical.
They are both single progressions, you yearn (or slice) towards someone
on the diagonal and then fall back opposite them. If you want a double
progression then it is a double slice - I have never heard that called a
double yearn - it wouldn't make sense as yearning is all about moving
towards someone that you want to dance with.
Double slices are usually in long lines.
In a single yearn people often work as a couple so that they have a free
hand to press up against their new opposite's hand before falling back.
Again, it emphasises who your new neighbours are.
But there is no rule as to whether a yearn/slice is as a couple or in a
And undoubtedly there are other interpretations somewhere and somewhen
in the dance world :-)
John Sweeney, Dancer, England john(a)modernjive.com 01233 625 362
http://www.contrafusion.co.uk for Dancing in Kent