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 just called a tiny dance last night, and went through several of my
triplets along with a big pile of English 3-couple dances that we did to
old-time tunes (that was a little weird for me but the dancers enjoyed
them, so what the heck). I was grateful to have the few triplets I had,
and I'd like to expand my collection. The ones I used were
Microchasmic, David's Triplet #7 and Ted's Triplet #24, which all have
distinctive bits in them (contra corners, round two/drop through, and a
cast to invert then 1s lead up, respectively). I like triplets that
have some choreographic substance to them, something for the dancers to
Do you have favorites you enjoy dancing as well as calling? I get the
impression sometimes that triplets are "that thing you do to fill time
until the real dancing starts," but 3-couple sets can be a whole lot of
fun. And sometimes they can save your butt as a caller.
We had lots of odd numbers last night, so in addition to the triplets
and 3-couple English dances I used dances like Domino 5 (5 dancers) and
Pride of Dingle (for 9). For a short while we had 4 couples and did
contras but most of the evening was "other." Got any good dances for
On Sat, May 30, 2015 at 2:57 PM, Delia Clark via Callers <
> It will ultimately be a good thing if there is a generally accepted set
> of words (certainly not a strict requirement, but something that’s
> generally accepted across the country, if possible) that meet the range of
> criteria, along the lines of those suggested by Ron in his matrix.
There is an assumption behind this statement which is often made, but
which I find very disturbing.
The assumption is that it is an unalloyed good thing for there to be
standardization. This is the kind of thinking that led the Modern Western
Square Dance movement to standardize all of their calls, and all of their
teaching programs. They wanted any square dancer to be able to go to any
square dance club in the country, or in the world, and immediately know
exactly what was meant by everything that was said. There are some
advantages to that kind of standardization, especially if you happen to be
a globe-hopping square dancer who enjoys dancing hot hash, but it comes at
a tremendous cost.
It comes with a loss of the opportunity to experience, adapt to, and
appreciate regional differences. I don't care about being able to go to a
new place just to find that things there are done in the same way that I'm
used to them being done back home. I care about being able to go to new
places and learning the way things are done there.
What this means for the current discussion, from my point of view, is that
it's a good thing if dance callers and producers discuss the advantages and
disadvantages of using different terminology, and consider what language
will work best for their dance. It would be a BAD thing if anyone switched
terminology JUST BECAUSE that's what other people were doing.
It may well be that a certain set of terms will become generally accepted
because it works better for the dancers in a lot of places. It may well be
that dances which were written to be gender-neutral will be generally
accepted because they work better for the dancers in a lot of places. In
the meantime, if you find yourself assuming that it would a good thing if
there was standardization across the country, please give some thought to
what advantage you are trying to achieve, and what the disadvantages would
I recently called a dance and had trouble with my Shure wireless headset
system. I had feedback as I called from the floor/field. That indicates
that the mic pattern is probably to wide, since the volume was not that
It also droped out as I walked around the field at the outdoor dance.
Can anyone recommend a good quality headset system for a singing caller who
is often on the floor as he calls?
I'm calling a dance this weekend at Comicpalooza, a large comic book
convention. The crowd will be at least 95% people who have never danced.
What are some dances that you all recommend for this sort of crowd?
I thought I'd saved a fairly recent discussion on 'transgressive contras'...there was one posting that had a link to a video of 2 contra lines where the 1's bounced back and forth from line to line in subsequent verses. Could some kind soul who did save that please email me the link and any relevant discussion they saved at catherineaura(a)yahoo.com. Sadly I do not know how to access any archives...tried googling 'transgressive contra shared weight' and just brought up a long discussion from 2006