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 was trying to write a nice end-of-evening dance that had a balance at the
top of B1, and ended with a partner swing (that wasn't Old Time Elixir #2
or Tica Tica timing...) and came up with this. I think it's new, and it
worked well in Montreal recently; but I'd like to know if it already
Circle left 3/4
Gents start hey for 4 by left
Right to neighbor (women back to back in middle), balance and box gnat
Pull by right, women allemande left 1 1/2
Partner balance and swing
This discussion got me thinking about dances which have both a Gents RH chain and Ladies LH chain. I wasn't sure if any existed, so I wrote a few. I have no idea when I would ever call them, but it was a fun exercise :)
On a somewhat related note, I appear to have a thing for writing Becket dances, but I'm proud to say that none of these start with "Circle Left 3 places". In fact, they don't have any circles in them, so they can also help with the "dances without a circle left" campaign.
That's Not How We Do ItContra, BECKET, by Rona Wiener, Jan 2016
A1 (4) Balance the Ring (4) Gents Roll away P along set (8) Gents RIGHT HAND chain [To N] A2 (8) Gents [Gypsy] x1 (8) Neighbor Swing B1 (4) Balance the Ring (4) Ladies Roll away N along set (8) Ladies LEFT HAND chain [to P] B2 (8) On Right Diagonal Half a hey [Ladies lead by L] (8) Partner Swing
Slightly Less Wrong
Contra, BECKET, by Rona Wiener, Jan 2016
A1 (4) Balance the Ring (4) Spin R (as in Petronella), face NN (4) Balance the Ring (4) Spin R A2 (8) Star L x 1 [hands across, gents drop out] (8) Ladies LEFT HAND chain [to N] B1 (8) Star R x 1 [hands across, ladies drop out] (8) Gents RIGHT HAND chain [To P] B2 (4) Pass Through (12) Partner Swing
Double NegativeContra, BECKET, by Rona Wiener, Jan 2016
[Starts on side with P, Gents on R] A1 (8) Star R x 1 [hands across, ladies drop out] (8) Gents RIGHT HAND chain [To N] A2 (8) Star L x 1 [hands across, gents drop out] (8) Ladies LEFT HAND chain [to P] B1 (8) Half a hey [Ladies lead by L] (8) Partner Swing B2 (8) Right and Left Through (8) Pass Through, Single File Promenade along the set to NN
On Wednesday, January 20, 2016 10:17 PM, Alexandra Deis-Lauby via Callers <callers(a)lists.sharedweight.net> wrote:
I think I just danced one in CDH which both chains. But I can't remember who was chaining when because I was swapping anyway. But if anyone else was there and remembers...
On Sun, Jan 17, 2016 at 7:11 PM, Ron Blechner via Callers <callers(a)lists.sharedweight.net> wrote:
Anyone know any contras with gents chaining from right-hand position? I have four I wrote on the plane, and I don't think I've ever danced one. And considering the ro swapping I encounter at many of my gigs, maybe it's time I start calling them sometime.I know there's one by Gene Hubert where ladies chain, are rolled away with 1/2 sashay, and gents are right-hand chained from the right. Notes for that appreciated. I'd like dances where gents are doing a regular right hand chain.I'm not talking about "Gents chain", which is from the Left-hand side. For that matter, I want to make it clear that "gents chain" is named poorly. I called "gents, left-hand chain" the other night in Greenfield and it required less explanation than when I've called/taught it as "gents chain". But I digress.Thanks!
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I am a new caller, and I have called two dances. The first, I completely
blew the microphone part. Since then, I practiced holding the mic close to
my mouth like was suggested to me.
The second dnce, I was told that my voice was too deep for the microphone,
and I was overpowering it. It was suggested that I hold the microphone
further away and project, which I tried, but again, not something I
Someone afterwards suggested that it could have been dealt with by the
sound board. Although, the sound guy was sitting there and I'm sure would
have done something if it would have helped.
So, any advice? Is there a particular mic or mic type that is good for
deep voices? Any techniques to practice? Sound guy/gal need to be on the
Any advice welcome.
That article had a few interesting *new* points, for me.
1. That Roma are in the US, not just Europe, and face continued
2. That Roma in the US often don't speak up about their identity out of
fear of discrimination.
3. That perhaps the use of "gypsy" as a term isn't as bad as non-Roma
self-identitying as "dance gypsies". Roma wander because they are
persecuted or can't find work. When we talk about "dance gypsies" beig
wandering from place to place, we're comparing our having fun traveling to
various dances to the widespread persecution of an ethnicity (the worst
being the Holocaust).
On Apr 1, 2016 10:03 AM, "via Callers" <callers(a)lists.sharedweight.net>
> I was thinking that very thing, but didn't have any experiences.
> Something I read recently pointed out that Romani people in Spain proudly
> refer to themselves as "Gitano" which translates to Gypsy.
> This is issue is not as cut and dry as many of us would like it to be.
> Thanks for sharing this story.
> Amy Carroll
> On April 1, 2016 at 9:02 AM Rich Sbardella <richsbardella(a)gmail.com>
> There are still at least two sides to this argument. Although I am using
> the term less and less, I want to relate a recent experience.
> I was dancing in one of MA biggest contra venues as a caller walked the a
> dance with a "two eyed" turn. A dancer in my line became more than a
> little upset, yelling it "it's a gypsy". Turns out the dancer is Romani,
> and the term "gypsy" is one he proudly owns.
> I do not think the Roma people as a whole have come to a consensus. (For
> example, The Gypsy Kings proudly use the term as a reference to their
> Rich Stafford
> On Fri, Apr 1, 2016 at 4:56 AM, Michael Fuerst via Callers <
> callers(a)lists.sharedweight.net> wrote:
> Ms Carroll:
> Quite frankly a fairly useless article for us.
> Ms Raessi is "a Romani/Métis researcher and activist" so it seems logical
> that she dislikes the term gypsy.
> She lists alleged myths stereotypes about Romani people
> Every ethnic group has an associated set of myths and stereotypes.
> Every ethnic group tries to purge the negative stereotypes and retain the
> positive aspects of their heritage.
> Ms Raessi writes "many people find that using this term is wrong because
> it perpetuates misinformation about our origins"
> This makes little sense. Anyone person bigoted enough to entertain
> any of her alleged stereotypes has no idea about the origins of Romani
> Ms Raessi writes "...the term has been used as a racial slur and is
> loaded with stereotypes ..."
> Yes the word gypsy has been used to deprecate Romani people but over the
> years it evolved to mean a free-spirited or nomadic person.
> Other ethnic slurs (such as kike, chink, jap or nigger) have not similarly
> evolved, and thus their use remains offensive.
> This article discusses some English words or idioms that evolved from
> ethnic slurs:
> The ongoing discussion during the past year of the word gypsy has included
> claims that some persons of Romani descent embrace gypsy and its positive
> aspects of current usage, most don't care, and some hate the word. And
> of course only those who object will speak out.
> As long the common usage of gypsy keeps evolving towards a free-spirited
> or nomadic person, keeping it in the contra lexicon seems appropriate
> Michael Fuerst 802 N Broadway Urbana IL 61801 217 239 584
> On Thursday, March 31, 2016 11:32 PM, via Callers <
> callers(a)lists.sharedweight.net> wrote:
> "What's wrong with the Word 'Gypsy'?"
> Amy Carroll
> Callers mailing list
> Callers mailing list
> Callers mailing list
Danced this Mary Cay's Reel look-alike recently--anyone know the title and
A1: circle L 3/4
ladies alle R 3/4, next lady alle L 3/4
B1: pass P by R for full hey
B2: P B&S
I thought Don had some great suggestions for a periodic open caller dance.
I helped keep Seattle's Open Band/Open Caller monthly dance going for
awhile, and really liked having a host caller. The expectation was that the
host would help keep the flow of the evening going by calling the first and
last dance of the night, and fill in with others if needed, would arrange
the order of the other callers (so more experienced callers might alternate
with newer ones). The host caller would sometimes mentor (or chose a more
experienced caller who was willing to mentor) less experienced callers:
step in if they needed advice on choosing a dance, have dances to suggest
on hand, help with band signals and knowing when to end the dance (but as
Don says - also let it be learning experience - know how much to support &
give reassurance, without taking over).
We did not do sign-ups in advance, but put out a sign-up sheet during the
potluck before the dance. It was a given that signing up to call a dance
was not necessarily an indicator of the order.
Great for you for keeping this tradition going! Hope it goes well,
Date: Mon, 23 May 2016 15:31:21 -0400
From: Don Veino via Callers <callers(a)lists.sharedweight.net>
To: Chet Gray <chetgray+sharedweight(a)gmail.com>
Cc: Don Veino via Callers <callers(a)lists.sharedweight.net>
Subject: Re: [Callers] Organizing open calling
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
Sue Rosen generally does this for the periodic NEFFA caller nights at the
Scout House Thursday dance. The expectation there is you have your wall
clock time slots (e.g.: 7:30-7:55) and you *end* your slot on time, no
matter what happened before or during your slot. Having slots specified as
real clock time instead of elapsed time makes staying on/recovering to
schedule much easier. I appreciate/leverage her approach and have taken it
a bit more on-line.
I've done this several times for our other Scout House series. My approach
is to set up a shared Google spreadsheet with the available time slots,
names assigned to slots. Generally in the first "half" (curiously, longer
than the second :), a given caller gets two dance slots in a row and one in
the second (one caller gets the flip assignment). I have the four callers
enter two dances for each slot. One choice for "beginner heavy" and the
other for "more experienced". Having them all in one place, we can
visualize the program choices and challenge arc of the selections. The
crowd that arrives leads us to which column will be the program that night.
People can comment in the sheet and we work out most conflicts or necessary
adjustments on-line (or by phone, etc.) before the evening. Of course there
may be some tweaks that night, but having the two program difficulty
choices spelled out minimizes that.
This process typically takes about 2 weeks. Can be done in less time but
would need to be led strongly with deadlines. People (particularly at this
level) have focus on their "primary" job/life and the turnaround time on
requests and changes can take days.
- Work out who'll introduce/recognize the band, sound, etc. (easily
overdone or forgot otherwise).
- Outgoing caller introduce the next one.
- Tape a copy of the program up near the caller's mic.
- Following caller helps enforce (gently) finishing clock time of
- Have slop slots built into your schedule (~7 minutes first half, ~5
second - not distributed into the caller slots and ideally remaining
unused) and explicitly schedule any waltz/scandi and break(s) too.
- You're the glue in this process. Be ready to help out but also stay
back to let them work out any issues themselves - that's part of their
On Mon, May 23, 2016 at 2:04 PM, Chet Gray via Callers <
> Hello, all,
> After losing monthly open-calling evenings to venue schedule conflicts
> last year, the local contra group where I live (Louisville, KY) are
> re-implementing them on 5th-week dances (so, about four or so times a
> year). I am "organizing caller" for the first of these, next Monday, and
> I'm wondering if any of y'all have advice on coordinating an evening of
> The extent of organization for our previous open-calling dances had been,
> essentially, callers put their name on a list and everyone hopes it works
> out, and, while this was usually serendipitous fun, it often led to
> long-running dances (both individually and for the evening overall) and
> less-than-enjoyable experiences for newer dancers. When our board was
> discussing re-starting open calling, I had recently been at the Jan Jam
> (Champaign/Urbana, IL) after party, where Lauren Peckman had coordinated
> open calling, and where I'd had the best open-calling experience?as both a
> dancer and a caller?I'd ever encountered. I suggested to our board that,
> this time around, the evenings each have an "organizing caller" to help
> ensure overall program flow, coordinate callers/dances with an eye to
> complexity/energy/time, incorporate and assist novice callers, wrangle
> callers if need be for time limits, fill in gaps in the program, have
> back-pocket dances at the ready, etc.
> Lo, they asked me to take a go at coordinating. Suggest a change, be the
> change, I suppose. ^_^
> The open calling has been announced at our weekly dances leading up, and
> tonight (a week before) I'll be asking (but not requiring) prospective
> callers to talk to me to help me get an idea for how I can best help the
> evening flow.
> Any suggestions/anecdotes/warnings from my more-experienced fellows would
> be greatly appreciated.
> ? Chet Gray
After losing monthly open-calling evenings to venue schedule conflicts last
year, the local contra group where I live (Louisville, KY) are
re-implementing them on 5th-week dances (so, about four or so times a
year). I am "organizing caller" for the first of these, next Monday, and
I'm wondering if any of y'all have advice on coordinating an evening of
The extent of organization for our previous open-calling dances had been,
essentially, callers put their name on a list and everyone hopes it works
out, and, while this was usually serendipitous fun, it often led to
long-running dances (both individually and for the evening overall) and
less-than-enjoyable experiences for newer dancers. When our board was
discussing re-starting open calling, I had recently been at the Jan Jam
(Champaign/Urbana, IL) after party, where Lauren Peckman had coordinated
open calling, and where I'd had the best open-calling experience—as both a
dancer and a caller—I'd ever encountered. I suggested to our board that,
this time around, the evenings each have an "organizing caller" to help
ensure overall program flow, coordinate callers/dances with an eye to
complexity/energy/time, incorporate and assist novice callers, wrangle
callers if need be for time limits, fill in gaps in the program, have
back-pocket dances at the ready, etc.
Lo, they asked me to take a go at coordinating. Suggest a change, be the
change, I suppose. ^_^
The open calling has been announced at our weekly dances leading up, and
tonight (a week before) I'll be asking (but not requiring) prospective
callers to talk to me to help me get an idea for how I can best help the
Any suggestions/anecdotes/warnings from my more-experienced fellows would
be greatly appreciated.
— Chet Gray
What do folks do to ensure dance booking contacts remember that they've
I just had my second booking in a row in a certain geography forget that
they had booked me. What's curious is that in both cases these dances
approached me by email (I could understand it maybe if it were the other
way around?), we had an exchange where we clarified the dates, etc. and
confirmed we were all set. We agreed to connect again with any final
questions on program, accommodation, etc. as we approached closer to the
date. The first case turned out to be rather comical in their confusion -
the second I can't figure out.
So, short of calling/emailing monthly, what do YOU do to ensure folks
remember their booking commitment with you?