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.
So, a while back I was working with a band and they played a tune that was sort of new for them, and the A part was fine, but the B part was unusual anyway, and hard to know where the count was, in particular because they were unfamiliar with it, and I tried to count and call so the dancers could keep going, and it kept coming back together in the A, but falling apart in the B, until things snowballed and the dance completely fell apart. What is the best thing to do or say in a situation like that so that the band doesn’t feel too much as if it is their fault, and the dancers don’t feel it’s their fault? And yes, it’s always the caller’s fault, since I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what the heck was going on with that tune, but the dancers couldn’t find their way in it either. Anyway, back to what to do to make everyone feel a little better after that.
Ooh tricky - you definitely need to tell the band, maybe point out the odd
phrasing and that you'll need to see if you can find a really good specific
dance for it to work nicely. I'm intrigued as to what the tune is now -
maybe the list can suggest something useful if you let us know?
On Tue, May 30, 2017 at 10:43 PM, Martha Wild <mawild(a)sbcglobal.net> wrote:
> Next dance was rock solid, and easier, and tune was rock solid. So they
> did redeem themselves. I have listened to a version on line and it has a
> WEIRD B part - it is nominally 16 counts but the emphasis is kind of like
> 6, 6 and 4, and it is weird beyond belief. How do I ask them to never play
> it for me again?
> On May 30, 2017, at 2:38 PM, Bob Morgan <ceilidh.caller.bob(a)gmail.com>
> In the moment, move right along. Next dance needs to be rock-solid, next
> tune needs to be rock solid. Drop the difficulty through the floor and get
> your dancers dancing again as quickly as possible. Don't dwell and let the
> dancers forget it ever happened.
> Afterwards either ask the band to play it for you again if you have time
> and see if you can work it out collectively or just say something on the
> lines of "It's a shame I just couldn't seem to get the hang of tune X, is
> there something unusual about it?" Ideally of course the band will have
> been paying attention and be suitably annoyed at themselves that they
> didn't get it right (the absolute optimal response of course would have
> been for the band to have changed tune).
> On Tue, May 30, 2017 at 10:16 PM, Martha Wild via Callers <
> callers(a)lists.sharedweight.net> wrote:
>> So, a while back I was working with a band and they played a tune that
>> was sort of new for them, and the A part was fine, but the B part was
>> unusual anyway, and hard to know where the count was, in particular because
>> they were unfamiliar with it, and I tried to count and call so the dancers
>> could keep going, and it kept coming back together in the A, but falling
>> apart in the B, until things snowballed and the dance completely fell
>> apart. What is the best thing to do or say in a situation like that so that
>> the band doesn’t feel too much as if it is their fault, and the dancers
>> don’t feel it’s their fault? And yes, it’s always the caller’s fault, since
>> I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what the heck was going on with
>> that tune, but the dancers couldn’t find their way in it either. Anyway,
>> back to what to do to make everyone feel a little better after that.
>> Callers mailing list
Wrote this over the last several months and called it last night in
Swim at Round Pond, improper
A1 1's in the middle gypsy and swing
A2 Circle left 1x and neighbor swing
B1 Down the hall four in line, turn alone, come back
B2 Neighbor balance, 2's gate 1's down the middle, New neighbor mirror
do si do
The dance ends up being a bit on the ECD side. It was written in honor
of my literally hot week at the CDSS Pinewoods Camp last summer. I took
many swims at Round Pond right outside Nonesuch cabin.
I wrote this earlier this month, and got to give it a national debut at
Catapult Showcase 2017 last night during by set with Tempest (awesome!)
Pete's Dark Roast by Andy Shore May 2017
(8) Men allemande Left 1.5x
(8) Neighbor swing
(8) Promenade across = face partner across
(8) Mad Robin - Women passing in front
(4,4) Partner RH Balance and Box the Gnat
(8) Right & left through - COURTESY TURN SOMEONE NEW*
(8) Women Do-si-do 1.5x
(8) Partner swing
Notes: when out with partner - cross over and get in with the balance & box
(or just wait to turn/be turned)
* note that courtesy turn is with your new neighbor
this is the progression
It looks simple but the surprise factor of the R&L thru can be challenging.
The fact that there are 2 courtesy turning actions both ending facing
partner (promenade & R&L thru) add to the difficulty.
Hi, I’ve recently written two dances. Both have been tested and called at regular contra dances (one in England, one in California!) to positive feedback from the dancers. I’m running it by the caller’s gauntlet to see if anyone knows if these dances have already been written. Please let me know if you’ve seen them before. Thanks! I’m also adding a couple of other simple dances that I wrote specifically to introduce a some figures in an easy way when I have many beginners. They aren’t fancy dances and I don’t usually announce the names of these dances but since I include my programs in my website, I thought I should probably give correct attribution if the dance has already been written. Thanks for any help!
A Stroll in the Hey
by Jacqui Grennan
(8) Gents allemande Left 1-1/2
(8) N Sw
(8) LL F&B to P
(8) Ladies Chain to P, extra courtesy turn
(8) w/P, Promenade the set clockwise, ladies in the middle, turn as couples
(8) Return promenade, go PAST current Ns <=PROGRESSION
(8) 1/2 hey (NEW gents start passing left, NR, ladies L)
(8) P Sw
Zag It Back
by Jacqui Grennan
(8) w/P, slice on left diagonal, fall straight back <=PROGRESSION
(8) Ladies allemande Right 1-1/2
(16) N B&Sw
(Note: loose timing in the B1)
(8) Circle Left 3/4
(3,3) w/N, zig left, zag right to your shadows
(2) Shadow L allem. 1x
(16) P B&Sw
by Jacqui Grennan
(8) N Allem. RIGHT 1x
(8) Ladies allemande LEFT 1-1/2
(16) P gypsy R/Sw
(6) Circle Left 3/4
(10) N Sw
(8) LL F&B to P
(8) Star Left 1x <=PROGRESSION
Line Up the Square
by Jacqui Grennan
(8)N DSD 1x
(8) N Sw
(4) Balance ring
(12) Give and Take to gents side, P Sw
(8) Promenade across the Set
(8) Ladies Chain to N
(8) LL F&B to P
“INTERRUPTED SQUARE THROUGH”
(4) P RH balance across set
(2) Pull by P RH
(2) Pull by N LH
I am putting together a resume/CV with emphasis on my calling and music skills. I would be interested in seeing some models of how this is done, so if anyone is happy to share theirs with me, I would be very grateful
Kind regardsJeanette Jeanette Mill Contra dance caller, musician, workshop facilitatorCanberra, AustraliaPhone: +61 (0)449 686 077 Email: jeanette_mill(a)yahoo.com.au Skype: jeanette.mill "The piano - 88 little mistakes waiting to happen"Kate Barnes
I'm helping a friend out who is experiencing some serious (but
hopefully temporary) stress.
Would anyone be interested in calling a dance in Prov RI on Fri June
16? There may be other dates available at this series in the future,
for interested parties.
We are hoping to expand our go to list, so if you are up for some
travel and/or visiting area friends/family, this might be a good
We can provide a very comfortable couch (where many notable contra
personalities have spent a night, and don't worry, we are very good
about laundry:-) and at least breakfast the next morning.
Please contact me off list for more details. Thanks.
Virtual group hug,