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
Linda Leslie's suggestion of gyre as a replacement for gypsy bubbled around
in my brain and a new (I think) dance percolated up. It has a twist that
isn't the gyre (which I consider just new nomenclature); women casting out
of the swing to travel from one minor set to another (similar to gent's
movement in Scoot by Tom Hinds).
I haven't gotten to test it with dancers yet, as I just finished running it
through with pegs on my desk; but I wanted to share it in support of a new
A Gyre for Linda
by Luke Donforth
(4) Pass through to an ocean wave (ladies left, catch right with partner)
(4) Balance the short Wavy line
(2) Walk forward
(3) Shadow gyre right 1/2
(3) Gents gyre left 1/2 in the middle
(16) Neighbor gyre right and swing
(8) Men allemande Left 1-1/2 WHILE women cast cw around whole set one
(8) 1/2 Hey, passing partner by right shoulder
(16) Partner gyre right and swing at home
As for the other aspects that have been discussed:
I pronounce it with a softer g sound. For reasons unclear to me, gyre has
different accepted pronunciations; but (to my knowledge) gyration doesn't.
As for using the term (which I clearly support); it costs me nearly nothing
to switch and helps make the dance more accessible for some; both in
dropping a term some find offensive and making the name more descriptive of
the move. My job as a caller is to help share the joy of dancing, and if
this does that I'm in favor of it.
I've been booked to teach/call at the New London Assembly in
Connecticut, Sunday July 17 to Sunday July 24, 2016. I'd love some
other bookings before or after this - I usually do 4 weeks when I
travel to the States. I call English, Squares and Contras - if you
don't like Squares you probably won't want me calling your contra
dance! I would of course prefer several gigs in the same area rather
than spending all my time and money flying around. As bookings are
finalized they will appear on my Bookings page,
Michael Fuerst wrote, "'Balance and spin' has the same number of syllables
as 'Petronella' and avoids unnecessary jargon"
Hmmm... well if someone says "Petronella" I know that I am balancing forward
and back and then spinning clockwise while moving one place to my right to
the place of the person who was holding my right hand.
If the caller just says "Balance & Spin" then I don't know which direction
to balance, which way to turn or which way to move (if indeed I move at
all). Set & Turn Single has basically the same meaning as Balance & Spin
but means something completely different.
I never say "as in Petronella". The move is well enough established in
contra dance that all I have to do is say, "Petronella" and it happens. If
there are new dancers I teach them the move, call it a Petronella, and
everything works fine from then on.
And we have been clapping for fun in dances for over 400 years now so don't
expect people not to do it! :-)
Our dancing couldn't survive without jargon. Star. Ladies' Chain,
Allemande, Dosido are all jargon. Would you try calling a contra dance
without using any of those words?
But none of those words are well defined. Star can mean wrist-lock or
hands-across depending on the next move. Ladies' Chain can mean across, or
across and back depending on which century you are in. Allemande means
completely different things in other dance styles. And Dosido could be a
Mountain Dosido, a Do Paso, an Alabama Rang Tang or a Docey Ding if you are
in a different part of America a century ago.
I was dancing with another Morris side recently and #1 (the "caller") called
"Allemande". I had never heard that term used in Morris before so I started
to offer my right hand, but the guy opposite me started doing a Back to Back
around me. That is what #1 meant by "Allemande". I thought this very
strange until I was researching "Captain Macintosh" and found Thomas
Wilson's 1820 book "The Complete System of English Country Dancing" which
defined "Allemande" as "Back to Back"!
Every dancing master in every community in every style in every period in
every country uses the words to mean what they want them to mean. But they
teach their dancers what they mean and then it works. Some calls get
standardised and are easy to use across communities. Others take time to
settle down and may never be universally used. But if jargon allows a group
of dancers to have fun at any particular dance then I am all for it!
Whether complete standardisation is a good thing or a bad thing is another
matter entirely; we all have our own opinions about MWSD :-)
John Sweeney, Dancer, England john(a)modernjive.com 01233 625 362
http://www.contrafusion.co.uk for Dancing in Kent
Many callers forget that Petronella is spin-then-balance, and most modern
"Petronella dances" are balance-then-spin".
So saying, "as in Petronella, balance and spin/move one place to the right"
is not accurate either.
More accurate: "Balance the ring, and as in Petronella, spin/move one place
to the right."
(And the difference also can explain why people clap. The chestnut
Petronella has the stomping on the last beats, whereas there's a
stompy-sized hole at the end of modern balance-then-spin Petronella dances.)
On Dec 15, 2015 2:09 PM, "Bill Olson via Callers" <
> Hi Erik and all, heh heh, I often chuckle at MYSELF when I find myself
saying that same thing: "as in Petronella", when I realize very few of the
dancers have ever danced Petronella.. BUT, after trying to teach the move
with out saying the "P word", I realized that some of the dancers at least
know what the move is and having a percentage of the dancers "doing the
right thing" helps the others., especially those who learn by seeing as
opposed to having something "explained"... (with rights and lefts in it
ugh).. I've found saying: "balance the ring and move one place to the right
while pivoting over your right shoulder" doesn't always get everyone doing
the same thing (hah!), if it doesn't actually freeze some dancers in their
> Now I hear newer callers saying stuff like "balance the ring and
Petronella to the right" or "balance left and Rory to the left". Making new
verbs out of these proper names.. well, whatever works!!!