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'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*
*102 Mitchell Drive*
*Temple, Texas 76501*
*(903) 292-3713 (Cell)*
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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.
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