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.
Sure they're all fun (we hope). I'm looking for a few dances that are particularly playful, quirky, silly....something that typically gets the dancers laughing.
Some examples would be "Over the Hill and Still Chased" with the lady round two/gent cut through figure, or Beneficial Tradition when the dancers throw their free arm up and shout "Wooo!"
You get the idea. What are your favorites?
This group has been so quiet lately. The group has been so important for
me as I developed my Contra calling repertoire and skills, so I thought I'd
initiate a conversation.
As I sit here programming a dance I realize that I do not have many dances
without circles. Many that I do have, do not have a Neighbor Swing, or
have a Give & Take to cheat it out. Those factors limit where and when I
can use them.
I generally like to program two no circle dances in each half, and also a
NO neighbor Swing dance in at least one half if not both halves of an
evening. Any thoughts on this?
Does anyone want to share some modern contras that have no Circles and no
Give & Takes, but include a partner and neighbor swing.
Here are a few I have used.
Just for NEFFA, Linda Leslie
Rollin' and Tumblin'. Cis Hinkle
Rocket City Romp, Cis Hinkle
Travels with Rick and Kim, Shari Miller Johnson
Friday Night Fever, Tony Parkes
I collected a dance from a colleague, and she didn’t know its name or choreographer. Can you help us?
A1 (Face your neighbor) Right-hand chain (up and down the set); ptr do-si-do 1 1/2
A2 w/next N (shadow), bal & box the gnat; pull by R and ptr swing
B1 Circle left 3 places; N swing
B2 Long lines fwd & back; new N do-si-do
Louise Siddons, dance caller
For Sale: Complete caller wireless microphone setup with Broadway quality Countryman e6 microphone. $400 (approx $740 new)
• Countryman e6 "earset" microphone and case
• Spare e6 cable (worth $60)
• Shure PGX1 Body Pack Transmitter
• Shure PGX4 Receiver with power adaptor
• XML Receiver to sound board cable
• Shure carrying case
I used this setup to teach and call contra dance and it allowed me to both walk around while teaching and also occasionally dance while calling. The sound quality of the Countryman e6 mic is superb. Dancers frequently commented on how clear it was and that it was "like you were standing right next to me". The e6 is the same mic you will see performers wearing in professional theater productions.
This is the "directional" version rather than the omni-directional version which I also tested before going with the directional. The directional version allowed me to walk directly in front of the main speakers and continue talking as long as I did not turn my head so that the mic tip was pointed directly at the speaker. Though correct placement near the corner of the mouth is more important with a directional mic, I had no problem with it and was able to dance and call at the same time (at the end of the night when you're down to one short set).
Photos posted publicly on Facebook at:
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