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
I don't know of any dances with a Rory O'More figure and a box circulate in
the same dance, but if you're looking for a Petronella figure and a Rory
O'More figure in the same dance, check "Wave-Particle Duality" by Ryan
> Date: Mon, 30 Mar 2015 13:44:18 -0400
> From: Ron Blechner via Callers <callers(a)lists.sharedweight.net>
> To: callers(a)lists.sharedweight.net
> Subject: [Callers] Rory slides and Box circulates
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
> Long wave Rory O'Moore balance and slides/spins and box circulates ... in
> the same dance, adjacent to one another?
> I've not yet seen or danced any. Anyone have?
> I have a few dances; trying one or two this week.
> In dance,
> Ron Blechner
Callers mailing list
Since folks generally check here to see whether dance compositions have already been written, I thought I might as well. Tentatively calling this "Charm City Contra".
A1 Circle L 3/4Pass thru, swing next NA2 L chnLH starB1 Al rt shadow #1 to wavy line, gents facing inBal wave, spin rtB2 Bal & Sw P
I called a dance last night in the town where I grew up (Bellingham, WA).
It's always great to go back and see people with whom I learned to dance.
Calling there makes me a little nervous, though, because I didn't start
calling until I left there about 11 years ago.
Anyway, keeping in mind the recent discussion about clapping for the band,
I did my utmost to make sure last night's band was well appreciated. They
are a really good home-town band, and very fun to work with, so I didn't
feel a need to fake it.
After the first dance there was a smattering of applause, so I said, "It is
customary to applaud the band after each set." This sort of stopped them in
their tracks and they responded well. The band was grinning at me. I then
said, "I have also heard that bands perform better when they know they are
being appreciated." This brought even more applause. I said they were
dancing to the playing of "Northern Contraband" and I'd introduce the
individual members later.
During the evening I smiled broadly at the band members, they responded
with the same; I applauded at the ends of each dance, while looking and
smiling at them; I whooped when it was appropriate (they threw in some
really cool stuff, off the cuff) and the dancers joined in. All-in-all the
band was very well-received and appreciated, they responded well to the
attention, and the dancers were consistently appreciative the rest of the
evening. I introduced the individual band members twice - once in the first
half and once in the second. It helps that I know them and didn't have to
read their names. I mentioned the sound person a few times, too. Everyone
was smiling and happy. It was good.
I hope I can spread the joy at other gigs.
Just polling the masses here--how long do you generally run your dances (in
times through the dance, time take, couples going up and back, etc.)? How
many dances do you generally manage to fit into a 3-hour contra evening?
I've heard different wisdom from different folks and am curious to add some
more data points!
Kappy Laning and I have organized a new all-ECD weekend at Timber Ridge
camp, May 23-25 (Memorial Day weekend), 2015. Scott Higgs, Gaye Fifer, Tom
Spilsbury calling. Eight fine local musicians. The camp is so eager to make
this a success that they have lowered their price to us. NINETY Dollars,
all inclusive -- we start at 2 pm on Saturday afternoon (so no fighting the
Friday holiday weekend traffic) through Monday afternoon, all means included
(and we'll celebrate CDSS's 100th anniversary with a grand tea on Sunday).
I'd be happy to provide more information. If you already dance ECD, or
have always wanted to try it -- the cost is trifling!!
Website is AnEnglishTrifle.org.
On 4/22/2015 7:08 PM, Erik Hoffman via Callers wrote:
> Hi All,
> There are several places where almost no applause occurs after a dance. In some communities, when I've been subjected to that experience, I've asked, "were we off tonight?" The reply usually is something like, "no, the dance was fine (or even great), we just head for our next partner..." I know sometimes it's just the night. Sometimes, though, it's the community's habit. I spoke with a renowned musician the other day, who will no longer play for a certain series. One of the reasons: lack of applause -- lack of that palpable sense of appreciation.
> I think dancers don't often know that applause really makes the band and caller feel better. If they feel better they play better. And, as a dancer, applause usually makes me feel better, too. Any ideas on how to encourage applause? Or, if you're in one of those communities where applause is minimal, does it bother you?
I had that experience a while back at one of our local contras, when I
was calling with a really hot band. We'd finish a dance, get a few
claps and then just crickets. It was really depressing and upsetting.
The dances were going ok, the music was smoking and then... nothing.
I've just looked back into my dance log and the comment I wrote later
that night was "I don’t know what was up, but it felt bad-weird from the
stage." Applause really does make a difference.
I used to organize my dance cards by difficulty, but currently, I use
categories in my box that are largely based on dance-defining figures
(Petronella, star promenade) and types of progression (slide left,
circle-pass-through). I find that system of organization to be more useful
when writing out a program for an evening.
Date: Sun, 19 Apr 2015 13:53:01 -0400
> From: Maia McCormick via Callers <callers(a)lists.sharedweight.net>
> To: "callers(a)lists.sharedweight.net" <callers(a)lists.sharedweight.net>
> Subject: [Callers] Difficulty rankings?
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
> As I overhaul my contra deck and realize that my difficulty ranking system
> is super incoherent, and most of my dance rankings are from way before I
> had any idea what actually makes a dance easy or hard, I've been thinking
> of scrapping this difficulty ranking system and just starting over. So I
> was wondering: if you rank your dances by difficulty, what is your system,
> what are your benchmarks for various difficulty levels, what sorts of
> things do you consider when determining the difficulty of a dance? If you
> rank your dances, why not?
On the question of paying attention:
A while back, in one of these e-groups, someone pointed out that we
contra dancers keep talking about "community." This post pointed out
that we contra dancers go to a dance, and, often forsaking applause (yet
another topic...), run off to find our next partner and line up for a
dance. This posting compared that to country-western dance, or swing
dance, where they would sit around a table and talk, get to know others
through chatting, and not dance every dance, but have other social
things happen. It got me to thinking:
Often, after people have lined up, they talk with each other, their
partner, their minor set, or other people around them. Often callers
strive to get everyone to shut-up so they can start the dance. I've come
to believe this time of conversation is the main time we get to know a
little about each other and is thus a "community building time."
My practice now is to say into the mic in a regular talking voice, "Are
you ready?" If the general banter keeps going on, I wait a couple beats,
and say, again, "Are you ready?" After two to four times of asking the
question, someone will say, "Yes!" Then another might do a loud,
"Shhhh!" When people finally quiet down, I teach the dance.
On 8/4/2014 10:26 AM, barb kirchner via Callers wrote:
> sometimes when dancers aren't paying attention, it's because there are
> too many other things going on in the hall.
> sometimes it's the band warming up or sound checking, but i've seen
> all kinds of things going on - bake sales, people on their mobile
> devices, a group of beginners coming in who don't yet know dance
> etiquette, or maybe the dancers are having trouble hearing you.
> sometimes musicians talk loudly behind the caller (i'm a musician and
> a caller) and it's hard to understand the caller because the chatter
> can be heard through mics or pick-ups.
> you can't fix some of those things, but you can address retail events
> in the hall, cell phones, sound system, etc
> are your experienced dancers modelling good dance etiquette? are you
> teaching efficiently, or are you spending so much time talking that
> people lose interest?
> sometimes, i just start the walkthru anyway. as soon as people
> realize that most people are starting to swing, they get a little more
> interested :-)
> > Date: Mon, 4 Aug 2014 13:05:57 -0400
> > To: maia.mcc(a)gmail.com
> > CC: callers(a)sharedweight.net
> > Subject: Re: [Callers] When the dancers aren't paying attention
> > From: callers(a)lists.sharedweight.net
> > It depends why the dancers aren't paying attention. Are there lots of
> > experienced dancers, such that the walkthrough isn't really necessary?
> > Are they ignoring walkthroughs the first time through because they
> > know there will be a second one? Are they just having a lot of fun
> > with their friends and prioritizing that above listening to the
> > caller? How does the dance go once it starts?
> > A few strategies I might try:
> > * Not bother with the walkthroughs entirely. If the crowd is ignoring
> > the walkthroughs because as a whole they don't need them, then just
> > call the dance. This means only picking dances that can be called
> > no-walkthrough, but there are still a lot to choose from.
> > * Give the dancers a bit longer between dances before starting the
> > walkthrough. If they're chatting with neighbors and catching up, let
> > them do that for a bit. Then once you start the walkthrough go
> > quickly.
> > * Ask the band for rolling starts, where they play music under the
> > walkthrough. This makes it harder for people to talk and feels more
> > like dancing. You don't have time to explain complex things, so you
> > have to give that up, but it's much more forgiving than straight-up
> > no-walkthrough.
> > On Mon, Aug 4, 2014 at 11:08 AM, Maia McCormick via Callers
> > <callers(a)lists.sharedweight.net> wrote:
> > > At Falcon Ridge this weekend, I saw a couple of different styles
> of dealing
> > > with that frustrating state of affairs when 50%+ of the hall just
> > > paying attention to the walk-through. I'm curious if you all have any
> > > particular strategies you employ here, thoughts on how to deal
> with this,
> > > how to get the attention of the hall, etc.
> > >
> > > In dance,
> > > Maia
> > >
> > > _______________________________________________
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> > > Callers(a)lists.sharedweight.net
> > > http://lists.sharedweight.net/listinfo.cgi/callers-sharedweight.net
> > >
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