Some thoughts on timing, in part inspired by the recent discussion of
"Young Adult Rose" (btw, I hope we get a series of dances up to and
including "Revered Elder Rose" -- alternatively "That Old Rascal Rose").
As the dancers get the dance into their body, I'll shift from calling early
for direction to calling on the beat for timing. Of course it would be
ideal to be able to do both; I think it's possible with artful word choice,
but not always, not for me.
Sometimes I get the control thing going and want to exert a strong
influence over the timing -- "balance Now!". It's often more fun to shut
up and let the dancers sort out the timing - it's great to see people
adjust to make a dance flow.
Sometimes I enjoy dancing a dance with imperfect timing or flow, just to
see how the hall will adjust and make sense of it. A lot of the figures we
dance are not so precise as we think they are; for example, many "allemande
once" figures are really more like 1/2, to reverse direction. This is why I
prefer to teach with "far enough so you can..." rather than "exactly N" --
I want the dancers to think about flow and connection, not about completing
one figure before attending to the next.
On the other hand, I'm a total curmudgeon about lazy not-quite-far-enough
circles. And being late for your neighbor? Awful. Breaks down the trust
that builds up when we're all there for each other, on time and in the
- Roger Hayes
So Amy's followup to her "Is this a new dance" query brought up something
i've been thinking about for a while. (Amy & Tom - i'm collecting it with
Tom's B2 modification and attributing it as Wimmer, variation Hinds.)
A 16-count swing does go on forever. But it is also awesome - and i mean
truly awesome - to have a full 12-count swing plus 4 counts to pull off one
of the more time consuming flourishes (like the ripcord twirl, seen in the
taught here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbyoOPc0rHQ, one of my favorite
swing ending flourishes but one that takes too much time to be executed in
an 8-count swing window).
I know attitudes on twirls vary, so i should state clearly my opinion: i
think flourishes, while neither traditional nor intrinsic to our dance
form, add a lot to contra when they are executed safely, consensually, and
in a manner mindful of the foursome and set as a whole. That to me implies
that when and how to use twirls well - and how to time them - can be a
potential style point when dances allow for them, particularly where a
16-count swing may bore or tire dancers, yet allows plenty of time to
flourish and arrive on time for the next move. We could, as
choreographers, maybe even write more 16-count swings for use with the
crowds that love to flourish. Less subtle: If you're calling a 16-count
swing, why not point out to the dancers there's no excuse for arriving late
after a flourish?
The A1 placement of the partner swing in Amy's dance "Feelin' the Bern"
also appeals to me for a quite specific reason. Some callers are of a mind
that every dance should end with a swing, while others (this camp including
myself) feel that getting back on the microphone to change the final B to
accomplish that is bad form, but do appreciate the elegance of being with
or at least aimed toward your partner at the end of a dance and try to
facilitate that effect when possible, and others don't give a crap about
where dancers are facing when the music stops. (NOTE: This is to
acknowledge the various camps, not to launch a thread on which approach is
better!!!) Flowing from this, i fully support A1 partner swings, because
it's another way to accomplish the aimed-toward-partner-when-dance-ends
thing that doesn't involve an A1 circle L or slide. ;-)
On a slightly different but related note: As i work to assemble a DJ
repertoire of contradanceable EDM, i've noticed that many remixes are
perfectly contra-ready save for a "build to drop" element that occurs in
the music where the B2 ends, in effect adding from 4 to 8 counts to the B2
but usually only once through. Rather than re-working the track to
eliminate the build/drop element, which would create the feeling something
substantial is missing, I'm toying with the notion of pairing such material
with B2 swings so dancers get a slightly longer swing during that iteration
of the dance. Thinking getting back on microphone to say "keep swinging"
and then prompt the A1 with recorded music isn't such bad form. Open to
feedback on that.
I'd appreciate if folks keep responses to this message
positive/constructive in tone (vis-a-vis argumentative or dismissive) as
i've been super depressed lately and positivity helps. Hope you all are
having a good holiday weekend whether you're celebrating Easter or
recovering from a raucous Purim or burning off all those Newroz treats or
still doing laundry after Holi (did i get them all?!)
Precisely. What Jeff says here is to me much more than an aside as it helps
define and clarify my thoughts around the main point i was trying to make.
Dancers are accustomed to swinging for anywhere from 8 to 12 counts (as a
balance and swing is 16, minus the 4 counts a balance takes), thus a swing
longer than 12 counts feels too long. "Counting from the end" is nigh
impossible, as we get wrapped up in the experience of the swing and it's
mostly those who are well-developed musicians and/or who know contra tunes
by heart that can pick up on where in the musical phrase they are without
counting and thus judge how far from the end of the phrase they are and
correctly time the initiation of a 4-count flourish. But in the event that
a 16-count swing happens, the moment when it suddenly feels like too long a
swing (that moment where we pass 12 counts MAY be perceptible to everyone,
not just musicians, because we're conditioned to swinging for no more than
12 counts) could perhaps become the cue to initiate a 4-count flourish and
magically arrive on time. It's just a hypothesis based on dancer behavior
and my experience as a caller and musician, but it may bear testing out.
I'd be curious to hear how an experiment goes if someone calls 16 count
swings where dancers have been instructed to initiate 4-count ending
flourishes the moment they feel they've swung for a normal amount of time.
(Might just try running that experiment myself at a May 7 workshop i'm
On Sun, Mar 27, 2016 at 6:36 PM, Jeff Kaufman <jeff.t.kaufman(a)gmail.com>
> Hmm, I think I've seen people be late with it on twice count swings too?
> My interpretation is more like, when dancers are starting to learn swing
> ending flourishes the "counting from the end" to end things on time is
> hard, and they tend to be late a lot. The longer the flourish they're
> trying to lead, the longer in advance they need to start it and the less
> likely they are to leave enough time?
> (This is all still an aside, though, and I'm interested in discussion of
> the main point of your post.)
I've just been asked to call a wedding, and I don't have a good idea for
what the going rate for these things is. What do you all charge for a
wedding (say, 30 mins-an hour of dancing)? (And how might you adjust this
rate for NYC?)
May this be your biggest disappointment in life. :)
(Allemande left works much better, because it gives dancers a better direction for starting the swing.When calling the dance on a Saturday I probably use left shoulder gypsy instead of the allemande.) Michael Fuerst 802 N Broadway Urbana IL 61801 217 239 5844
Hi everyone. I’m enjoying all the great information that is shared on this list. Thank you!
I’m wondering if you have a favorite Triplet that would work for a very small but experienced contra dance with just 6 dancers left after the break? Ideally more dancing together and less casting down/back, etc….
I’ve done Ted’s Triplet #5, and they loved the hey for 6. I will call Labor of Love by Kathy Anderson (contra corners) next time.
I have the book of Zesty Contras & Give and Take, but not sure how all of the 33 Triplets work or if they are really fun…..
Grateful for your help!
Claire Takemori (Bay Area, CA)
For a while I've wanted a dance with:
- easy difficulty
- 2 swings
- a courtesy turn (promenade or chain)
- everyone allemandes
- a star
- Ideally ladies doing one move together and gents doing one move together.
- timing that isn't tight (Dayton 1.5 by Perry Shafran came very close, and
I use that, but doesn't leave quite enough wiggle room for too many new
Basically, A Nice Combination / Simplicity Swing / The Baby Rose but with
I was stumped. If you have a suggestion, I'm ears!
This is what I've worked together. I called it last Friday at Greenfield,
MA, with maybe 15% new dancers, and it worked well.
Mistakes Happen, Have Fun
Ron T Blechner
Start: Duple Imp.
A1. Gents DSD 1x (6)
A2. Circle L 3/4 (6)
B1. LLFB (8)
Ladies Chain (8) (to N)
B2. Star L 1x (8) (to Next N)
(Next) N Alle R 1.5x (8) (until gents face in)*
* Technically, this dance is a reverse progression indecent dance. But
don't tell the dancers this. It can be lined up improper and taught
Thanks to Donna for noticing my deliberate mistake! I thought I had fixed
the direction of the Lasso... I have reworded A1, hopefully to avoid
The Alabama Rang Tang and the Mountain Dosido were both originally known in
their communities as just "Dosido" (spelt anyway you like, but sounding the
same, apart from vagaries of accent). The names, and the Do Paso, were
changed to avoid confusion as mass communication brought dance communities
together. So this dance is basically a series of Dosidos!
Alabama Rang Tang: Partner Allemande Left, men cross the set, passing back
to back, reaching out with their other hand to the other lady, Neighbour
Allemande Right, men cross the set, passing back to back reaching, out with
their other hand to their Partner. Usually repeated twice then turning into
a Promenade. The lady's job is to stay on the spot, allemanding whichever
man comes towards her and sending him back.
Mountain Dosido: The man raises his right hand (holding the lady's left
hand) and the lady walks forwards around him (CCW) while he stands
still; the lady finishes where she started. The call is now often "DoSi the
Lady" to differentiate, and is normally followed by You Swing Mine and I'll
Swing Yours" as in this dance. "DoSi" is pronounced doe-sigh. I usually say
"Lasso the Lady" though, to avoid confusion and to help to remind them of
what the move is.
DosiWhat? (by John Sweeney)
Contra; Becket (CW)
A1: Men Dosido; Ladies Dosido 1 & 1/2 - all face New Neighbours up and down
the hall: as the ladies pass by the right shoulder for the second time they
take their partner's right hand in their left hand, so that the man turns
1/4 to his left, and she puts her back to her Old Neighbour
You have progressed. The lady keeps walking forwards into the next move...
A2: Men Lasso your Partner CCW around yourself and along to the other Man;
B1: Open Ladies' Chain: Ladies Pull by Right; Partner Allemande Left 1 & 1/4
- continue into an Alabama Rang Tang: Men pass B-to-B; Neighbour Allemande
Right; Men pass B-to-B, weave into a
B2: Partner Gypsy Meltdown
Notes: Teach the Ladies' Dosido as "Dosido and Pass Thru", otherwise they
may spin and face where they think they are going.
John Sweeney, Dancer, England john(a)modernjive.com 01233 625 362 & 07802
http://www.modernjive.com for Modern Jive Events & DVDs
http://www.contrafusion.co.uk for Dancing in Kent