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.
I lead an annual dance for 200+ 18-year olds in a hall with terrible
acoustics. Been doing it for 15+ years. If they all whispered at the same
time, it would sound like a roar in that room. I can only do the most
basic stuff most of the time...simple circles, longways with lots of
sashaying, an easy folk dance. But I experiment every now and then, which
lead me to come up with the following dances which, for the most part,
worked. Am I stealing them from somebody? (I like to give credit where
credit is due.)
They call their dance "Swat the Flea". I searched for a long time for a
very easy dance that had a Swat the Flea and finally wrote this one --
A1 Women into the middle and back; Gents into the middle & back
A2 All make a quarter turn to the right and walk single file to the right
B1 Women turn back to face partner -- all shake R hands with Partner & Box
the Gnat; change hands, Balance & Swat the Flea
B2 DSD Partner; Allemande R w/partner 1-1/2 to progress (women end facing
into the center ready to go F&B)
Since contra dances are almost impossible to teach to a loud, boisterous,
energetic bunch of 18-year olds who have never heard of or seen a contra
dance, I decided to give this a whirl -- and it worked -- mostly! It would
probably be better with a smaller more sedate crowd.
GREASE & GLUE (Contra formation -- Gender free -- all you need is a partner)
A1 Couple 1 split Couple 2, return to places; Couple 1 DSD
A2 Couple 2 split Couple 1, return to places; Couple 2 DSD
B1 Star R; Star L (w/hands)
B2 Couples face each other -- Couples DSD 1-1/2 ending back-to-back,
facing next couple
As an aside -- how do you quiet a room with terrible acoustics full of loud
*Looking forward,Linda S. Mrosko*
*102 Mitchell Drive*
*Temple, Texas 76501*
*(903) 292-3713 (Cell)*
*(903) 603-9955 (Skype)*
*www.zazzle.com/fuzzycozy* <http://www.zazzle.com/fuzzycozy*> (Dance
buttons, t-shirts, & more)*
I wrote the following solid little contra on a recent flight when I had too much time on my hands, and it went well on its initial test. It didn't show up in my database, but do you know if it has been written previously?
A1. Neighbor balance, swing
A2. Gents allemande L 1 1/2, partner swing
B1. Long lines, circle L 3/4
B2. Neighbor allemande R 1 1/2, 1/2 hey (GL, PR, LL, -)
I'm re-vamping my list of simple contra dances for new callers, and am
in search of a very particular sort of becket dance. The list is one of
my hand-outs for callers' classes at camps, so the folks who'll be using
it are likely to be nervous, brand-new callers. To that end, I'm
looking for sturdy, hard-to-break, low-piece-count dances. In a perfect
world they'd be composed of simpler glossary figures.
I already have a fair collection of simple dances to choose from, but
would like to include one more becket dance (I have Tica Tica Timing
already on the list). This perfect becket that I'm looking for should
_not_ start with circle L 3/4, and should not contain petronella twirls.
Bonus points if it doesn't have a whole hey, since I've already got a
couple of whole hey dances in the list.
I look forward to hearing what you can recommend.
I see you have loads of responses already! Here are a few easy ones
from my files that I believe meet your criteria:
Bases Loaded (by Jim Saxe, Lydee Scudder, and Tom Thoreau)
Contra; Becket (CW)
Start by turning the circle of four 1/8 AC so
that you face another couple on the left diagonal
A1: Forward with Partner (3), turn and take Neighbour(1), Back (2), back
slowly with a zesty Roll-Away with a Half Sashay (2)
A2: Repeat; Repeat
B1: Same four: Ladies Chain x2 (dont worry about lines)
B2: Partner Dosido; Partner Swing finish facing new couple on left
There is no Way to Peace; Peace is the Way (by Erik Hoffman)
Contra; Becket (CW)
Men: Look on your Left Diagonal that is who you link with
A1: Ladies Dosido; Partner Swing
A2: Men Allemande Left 1 & ½; Neighbour Swing
B1: Long Lines Forward & Back
Ladies link Right elbows and turn 1 & ½
B2: Ladies pick up Partner in a Star Promenade ¾
Men who are approaching now link Left elbows to Star Promenade Partner ¾
Push off to Butterfly Whirl on own side
Note: The second couple with whom you Star Promenade is the couple with whom
the dance starts again
This dance is easier than it sounds. It has proved good for mixed level
dancers because beginners can get into it, and the flow and unique quality
of the dance keeps experienced dancers interested. The consecutive star
promenades need a bit of space.
Fairport Harbour (by Paul Balliet)
Contra; Becket CW
A1: Men Allemande Left 1 & 1/2; Pick up Neighbour for Grand Promenade
(around the whole set neutral couples join in)
A2: Ladies Turn Back (Back Track/Cast) & Gypsy Meltdown with the Man behind
finish facing back
B1: Grand Promenade back until Partner is opposite (if you are with your
partner then you are a neutral couple at the end)
Ladies Chain to your partner
B2: Pass Through across the set; Partner Swing
Balance the Star #2 (by McLain Family)
Start holding hands across in Right-Hand Star
A1: Balance In and Out x2; Star Right
A2: Balance In and Out x2; Star Left
B1: Ladies Dosido; Men Dosido
B2: Circle Left; Slide Left to a New Couple (time for clogging!)
Fruit Punch (by Diane Silver (?))
A1: Yearn to New Neighbors on the Left Diagonal; Fall Back
Ladies Allemande Right 1 & 1/2
A2: Neighbour Balance & Swing
B1: Balance the Ring; Pass the Ocean
Balance the Wave (R/L); Swing Through
B2: Partner Balance & Swing
Finding Your Balance (by John Sweeney) - intended for teaching purposes to
get people around four changes of right and lefts with plenty of time
A1/A2: Four Changes with Balances - Start Right with Neighbour
B1: Balance the Ring; Men Cross
Balance the Ring; Ladies Cross
B2: Half Promenade (OR R & L Through)
Yearn on the Left Diagonal to New Neighbours
Grapevine Jig (by John Sweeney, based on Don Armstrong & Mick Peat)
Hold hands in Long Lines
A1: Grapevine: (R to side, L behind, R to side, L kick) x4
A2: Long Lines Go Forward & Back with a bow
B1: Circle Left; Star Right* Men Drop Out
B2: Ladies Chain to Partner; Yearn on the Left Diagonal
* Make it easier with a Circle Right
I hope you find something useful there.
John Sweeney, Dancer, England john(a)modernjive.com 01233 625 362
http://www.contrafusion.co.uk for Dancing in Kent
Let me try again ...
Coal Country Contra by Ron Buchanan
Women pull across by Rh, neighbor by L 1.5, men Alm R 1.5
Partner balance and swing
R&L thru, partner rollaway out of courtesy turn (W rollsL), Men Dosado (and stand still back in place)
Women Dosado and walk behind Ptr from his L side to his R side (progression), lines Fwd and back and adjust to next cpl across (CCW progression)
Each Day Is a Gift, it's called the present
On behalf of the Pourparler steering committee, I encourage Sharedweight's callers to consider attending the 20th annual Pourparler gathering. Pourparler is sponsored by the National Folk Organization (NFO) with additional support from the Country Dance & Song Society (CDSS) and New England Dancing Masters (NEDM). From the Pourparler website:
The name Pourparler comes from the French word “to speak,” and connotes a get-together, a chat. Since its inception in 1997, Pourparler has taken place in Illinois, Utah, California, Massachusetts, Oregon, Texas, Washington State, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, among other states; and counts many Sharedweighters among its veterans. It moves around the country every year. This year's edition will be September 14-17 in Galesville, Maryland, hosted by the fabulous Mid-Atlantic team of Ann Fallon, Busy Graham, DeLaura Padovan, Eric Maring, Janine Smith, and Kappy Laning. The event's program is coordinated by the national steering committee of Sanna Longden (IL), Margaret Bary (NY), Karlene Kjersten (UT), Mady Newfield (IL), and Jeremy Korr (CA).
You'll find lots more information, including registration information, at Pourparler's website: http://www.nfo-usa.org/pourparler.htm. Here is a brief description pulled from the website:
"If you want to meet and enjoy wonderful callers, teachers, and dance and music enthusiasts while singing, dancing, sharing teaching techniques, discussing important dance or music-related issues, and creating enduring friendships, you should register NOW for Pourparler. This is one of the best community dance experiences in the United States! It is warm, lively, and supportive, and you will dance and sing your way home with more new material that you thought one weekend could possibly produce!
Pourparler is a yearly gathering of dance and music educators from North America who are dedicated to teaching folk/ethnic/world/traditional dance in schools and/or community events. The brainchild of Sanna Longden, internationally respected dance educator from Evanston, Illinois, this weekend is a unique blend of dance sharing, discussion and networking. Experts in the field, teachers and musicians known across the continent, join with relative newcomers to share their best dances and tips for successful school residencies, family dances and other events that build community through cross-cultural dancing. Pourparler is gathering of colleagues, where we are all leaders and participants, and there are no hired “experts.”
The content each year is different, reflecting the needs and skills of the people who attend. In the past we have learned dances from many traditions including Balkan, Scandinavian, Israeli, French, square dancing, contra dancing, Maypoles, old-time couple dancing, singing games, and many others. We discuss teaching techniques, repertoire, costuming, music, school curricula and self-employment."