I am wondering if you have any dances for low numbers of dancers (perhaps 6
or less), when most or all of the dancers are beginners and adults. I am
also wondering if you have any dances (presumably different dances), that do
not require choosing a partner and are good openers for beginner adults.
Thanks as always to all,
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 try and call the dances of Rich Blazej whenever I can and this one's a
Halloween favorite, re-done as "Werewolves and Zombies".
*Garfield's Escape* -- circle of couples PLUS ONE EXTRA in the center
A1 All into the center EIGHT steps and back, menacing the Garfield
A2 Circle left, circle right
B1 Women (werewolves) promenade single file to the right, while men
(zombies) "star" by the right -- each man puts his right hand on right
shoulder of the man in front - including Garfield.
B2 Caller hollers "Escape!" ("Boo!", or maybe "Braaaiiins") and all men
run to the outside and swing with a woman in the outer circle. A new
Garfield remains in the center.
Rich himself named this after Garfield the comic-strip cat, way back when
he was cynical and funny (the cat, not Rich).
"The single man remaining at the end of the dance is entitled to a pan of
lasagna and some fresh kitty litter".
My favorite normal tune for this is the minor jig Coleraine, played at a
slightly slower lurch-y tempo, but if I'm lucky the band'll do the Alfred
Have fun, just thought I'd share -- and I'd love to hear how it goes if you
do it, and what variations emerge.
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.
Any rising star callers out there ready for a chance to get out on the
national circuit? Catapult is built to help you along the way.
A fantastic collection of breakout bands.
A hall full of dancers and organizers excited to find the best
ready-to-be-discovered contra talent.
Memorial Day 2017.
For all the details check out www.catapultshowcase.com.
Whipped this one up looking for a double-chain dance to get beginners
accustomed to the figure*. Has it been written before? (If not, tentatively
titling this one "Chain of Fools".) (Uhh, unless there's another dance of
that name already... which I can't imagine there isn't... in which case
I'll come up with something else.)
A1: slice L
ladies chain to N
A2: ladies chain to P
ladies alle. R 1 1/2
B1: N b&s
(Or perhaps the same dance, starting at B1, with "long lines forward and
back" in place of the slice.)
* currently my go-to dance for this purpose is currently Erik Hoffman's Made
but I like to have options (and I like to have glossary dances that don't
start with "N b&s").
Richard Hopkins asked, "What is 'slice'? And is it different from 'yearn'?"
I think most people use Slice and Yearn to mean the same thing:
As a couple move forward diagonally to face the next couple (default is
usually to the left); high-five them with your spare hands (not the one you
are using to hold your partner's hand) while turning to face them across the
set; fall back (push away) to your progressed positions facing them.
There is also a Double Slice, i.e. forward to the left diagonal couple and
continue moving to the left as you back out to face the next couple (double
And Bob Isaacs introduced Half a Slice (in the dance of the same name): "As
a couple, go forward towards each other on the diagonal. The top two
dancers join hands; the bottom two push off to make a line of four facing
down. This is an efficient way to get everyone progressed and facing down
in 8 beats, so there is time for creative or dramatic push-offs."
Some people sometimes use one term to mean single progression and the other
to mean double progression, but I don't believe there is any universal
agreement, so it is always best to write or teach exactly which one you
I like Yearn as it implies more interaction with the couple you are
John Sweeney, Dancer, England john(a)modernjive.com 01233 625 362
http://www.contrafusion.co.uk for Dancing in Kent
Any Musicians, Callers, Dancers want to spend the month of February 2018
traveling around New Zealand? The Allemande Joy Contra Dance Bus is now
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