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've been looking for a funky dance, a variation on Chorus Jig for 4
couples, alternating, everybody turns contra corners. Does anyone know who
to thank for it?
(I remember dancing it at one of the Monte Toyon camps (Spring Fever or
Queer Contra Camp) but I can't remember which! For bonus points, I'd love
to figure out whom I learned it from.)
The dance goes like this:
A1: top couple down the outside and back
B1: top couple down the middle and back, cast off with 2s
C: all turn contra corners in the middle
(All turn partner right 3/4, 1st corner left 1, parter right 1/2, 2nd
corner left 1.
It looks like a wave of 8 down the middle.)
B2: all balance and swing partner; end swing facing up (?)
(? = Do you alternate facing up/down?)
Then, every other time, alternate: the bottom couple goes up the set and
casts off with the 3s. So the 1s and 2s just change places with each other,
and the 3s and 4s change places with each other, and everyone has a turn.
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*
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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 recently had the opportunity to call a contra to a group of rank
beginners in a difficult situation: outdoors, on sloping concrete, without
amplification for either myself or the band, to people not expecting a
dance, with a band mostly unfamiliar with either contra or fiddle tunes,
who had no opportunity to practice or choose tunes. It was a staff party
with a barnyard theme. Granted, this particular good of people is
accustomed to being spontaneous and silly at times, most are in their 20's,
and it's a liberal, accepting group.
The organizers wanted to use the terms "cows" and "chickens" instead of any
other usual terms for dancers. When they arrived at the party each person
chose a name tag with either a cow or a chicken on it. They didn't know it,
but this determined which role they'd play in the dance. I arbitrarily
chose to "put the chicken on the right, because the chicken is always
right." (I keep chickens, and they ARE always right)
There was not time for much of a lesson, either. It'd have been much easier
if everyone had joined the dance at the beginning. All said, just about
everyone had a really great time, myself included. The band was hyped up to
try another dance evening later in the week, though that never
I never mentioned gender in any way. That part just seemed to not matter.
They were dancing with their friends. It didn't matter that they weren't
experts or even very good.
I was heartened and encouraged to try something like this again, perhaps
with more widely used dancer terms.
I don't recall seeing this mentioned, passing along to people interested
in the history of square dancing, clogging, and other southern
Picked up from the Facebook group Safety Dance: Building Safe and
Empowered Social Dance Communities
Hugs and backrubs -- I break Rule 6 http://rule6.info/
<*> <*> <*>
I'm fond of saying that relationships are a complex dance of dependence,
independence, and interdependence, and the rhythm and steps are different
for each relationship.
I found the Dick Leger album with Roger Whynot contras. I remember dancing
many of these at East Hill Farm with Dick Leger.
Alternate Duple/Double Progression, No P Swg
A1 N DSD, N Swg
A2 Face Across Flutterwheel, Sweep 1/4, Star Thru
B1 Circle Left, Circle Right
B2 Promenade Across, R&L Thru
*Eighteenth of January*
Alternate Duple/Double Progression, No P Swg
A1 N DSD, N Swg
A2 Square Thru, Slide Thru, Meet New Neighbor, Join Hands w/New Neighbor
B1 Circle Left, Circle Right
B2 Lad Chain, Chain Back
Alternate Duple, No P Swg
(This is listed as a Double Progression. Is it?)
A1 Across the Set RH Balance, Turn Half by Right, R&L Thru & Courtesy Turn
A2 Promenade Wholeset, Wheel Around & Comeback
B1 Lad Chain, Chain Back
B2 New N Swg, LL F&B
Alternate Duple Single Progression
The Sweep 1/4 are indicated as with vines.
A1 Holding your P hand, Balance as Couples R, then L, Sweep 1/4, Lad Chain
A2 Lad Chain to P, Holding N Hand, Balance as Couples R, the Left, Sweep 1/4
B1 R&L Thru, Star Thru, Circle Half,
B2 Pass Thru & Swg, LL F&B
These contras are all on the first side of the LP "A Modern Style Contra
Each dance would all be a tough sell today, since there are no Partner
More to come,
On Wed, Jul 19, 2017 at 9:48 AM, Rich Sbardella <richsbardella(a)gmail.com>
> Dick Leger published an LP of contras written by Roger Whynot. The LP was
> aimed at square dancers and included Flutter Wheel and Sweep 1/4 More.
> Perhaps I will be able to find it later and post some dances.
> I called contras at the New England Square and Round Dance Convention this
> year and the dancers enjoyed contras that I also call at modern contra
> dances, Keep the progressions simple, and keep the swings short.
> Stafford, CT
> On Tue, Jul 18, 2017 at 10:28 PM, Judy Greenhill via Callers <
> callers(a)lists.sharedweight.net> wrote:
>> Hi everyone,
>> I have undertaken to teach some modern square dancers how to contra
>> dance, and I’m wondering if anyone has experience with this and has any
>> dances to recommend? I’m a square dancer myself but most of my contra
>> repertoire is for modern contra dancers- 2 swings, lots of Balance and
>> swing, etc. I’d like more dances with MWSD moves in them and possibly
>> without any, or only 1, swing, and they don’t need to have a partner swing.
>> The dancers I am teaching are all either plus or advanced, so they will
>> tire pretty quickly of the usual simple glossary contras I would normally
>> do in a teaching situation. They can do the moves; it’s the formation that
>> is new to them.
>> <https://www.avast.com/sig-email?utm_medium=email&utm_source=link&utm_camp...> Virus-free.
>> Callers mailing list
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.
Lately, my choreography brain has been churning on community dances
(longways, circles, etc). I've got two new ones that I haven't gotten to
test out yet.
I'd be curious to hear folks thoughts on them; both the dance moves and how
to succinctly explain it to people not used to dancing (for instance, I use
the phrase cross trail in this write-up, which I wouldn't use at a
Each of them have (what I think is) a new figure for the progression; and
then could be mixed with the staples of long lines, DSDs, etc.
I'm not even pretending to break this up into A's and B's; because they're
not that kind of dance ;-)
*Long Corners *
by Luke Donforth
top in left line trade with bottom in right line, giving a high five with
the left hand in the middle
then next trade and high five, and the next, until both lines have swapped
and you're across from partner again
the pair at the top of the line (was bottom couple) stays put and swings
each other around, while two lines do a cross trail at the top; giving your
partner a high five with your right when you pass
head of each cross-trailing line leads back down to bottom of their
original side of the set and stays there. Everyone else follows in their
long lines forward and back
DSD partner straight across
1 2 3 4 5 => 5 1 2 3 4
Here's a link to a series of photos, hopefully illustrating the beginning
(unmarked peg is the caller)
by Luke Donforth
Top couple makes an arch and goes over the other two lines
The rest move up, and when the reach the top, they make an arch and go down
over the rest of the line
When the bottom couple reaches the top, the separate (peel the banana
style) and lead their line down the outside (no hands). Everyone except the
original top couple (now at the bottom) follows.
The couple at the bottom swings, and as other folks get back to line; they
can swing their partner.
Long lines forward and back
Allemande your partner
Other hand Allemande your partner
1 2 3 4 5 => 2 3 4 5 1