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 have been calling for about a 18 months now, mostly Contra, with a bit of ECD mixed in for good measure. The one thing I haven’t tried yet is American format squares(chorus, figure, figure, chorus, etc)! So, I have some square figures that I’d like to try, but I’m a bit stuck on choruses. Has anyone got any good, interesting, but simple choruses that can be easily done ‘on the call’?
I took Luke's Double Contra and, since I often work with small groups, made
it into a Four Couple Dance:
Luke's Tunnel (by John Sweeney/Luke Donforth)
Four Couples; Longways; Becket
Start in Side Lines; Number the positions as in a Square Dance
A1: Neighbour Balance & Box the Gnat - keep right hand high to make a Tunnel
Couple at #1s position go through the Tunnel
Other End Couple go through the Tunnel
A2: Ends (went through Tunnel together) & Sides (i.e NOT the person you are
holding hands with): Dosido & Swing - finish in a Square
B1: Into the Middle, on the way back Men Roll Current Partner Away with a
Men Star Right to Partner
B2: Partner Gypsy & Swing - finish in Head Lines
Next time those in #2s position go through first and you finish in Side
Lines - four times through lets everyone be the first Tunneler
John Sweeney, Dancer, England john(a)modernjive.com 01233 625 362 & 07802
http://www.modernjive.com for Modern Jive Events & DVDs
http://www.contrafusion.co.uk for Dancing in Kent
Michael Dyck and I have done a thing:
This (mostly) contra dance database 12,000 dances:
5,000 dances with viewable instructions
4,000 more dances with links to instructions
Current search options include author, title, formation, and figures.
You can search the figures of dances even when we don't have
permission to show the figures.
This will always be a work in progress, but hopefully it's good enough to use.
(and a lot of questions should be answerable by the FAQ on that site.)
-Chris Page and Michael Dyck
This has been (and continues to be) a long-term project. Michael and I
started formally working on this back in April of 2015, but I started
building my database back in November of 2010.
The 21st Annual Pourparler Gathering will be in San Antonio, TX, November 1-4, 2018 (http://nfo-usa.org/pourparler/). Quite a few Sharedweight folks are Pourparler veterans. The Pourparler is a gathering of several dozen dance and music leaders, who share dances, songs, games, and tips with each other in an egalitarian format (everyone is a participant and leader, without hired "experts"). Pourparler rotates around the country each year: 2017 was in Maryland, 2018 is in Texas, and 2019 will be in Minnesota.
Pourparler covers a panoply of genres, with the common theme being material that's accessible and easily taught and learned. Material presented last year in Maryland included simple longways dances, contras, circles, squares, groups of three, sword dancing, a Romanian stick dance, international folk dances from all over, a variety of songs, and an Afghani musical game involving three rolling balls and lots of jumping, among much else. At my previous times attending Pourparler, I've learned more about dance leadership, and gleaned more material to use at one-night events and community/wedding/school type dances, than from anyplace else. Additional invaluable material and strategies are shared on the Pourparler Google Group, a group for alumni of one or more of the annual gatherings.
Traditionally, Pourparler has been run under the auspices of the National Folk Organization (NFO), which is the national umbrella organization for international folk dance and other dance genres, with additional support from the Country Dance and Song Society (CDSS) and the New England Dancing Masters (NEDM). My fellow Steering Committee members and I are all members of NFO, CDSS, or both, as are many of you. I encourage you to consider joining us at Pourparler this November in Texas or in Fall 2019 in Minnesota!
Jeremy Korr, Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Earlier today, I resurrected a draft dance from (almost exactly) this time
last year which I'd put aside as probably being too crazy. In looking at it
again, I started wondering if it is... too crazy... and wrote up a more
specific description to get it across to others. The magnet people show me
it works, but they don't say much about how it felt. :-)
As I'm still up due to the caffeine I drank to drive home after a gig
tonight, I thought I'd type this up and throw it out there for input. Is it
too crazy? How would you teach the A2 if you attempted it?
Demolition Derby (DRAFT) - 4 Face 4 - Don Veino 20170823 (updated
[starts in lines/4, so G1, L1, G2, L2]
A1 Give & Take up/down to Gents (opposites Swing) [ends in line/4 facing
up/down: G1, OpL2, G2, OpL1]
A2 "Crazy Eights" [Fig 8 in current lines/4 done a la a Mad Robin - all
trace path of a figure 8, equidistant rel. to Partner, whom you face
up/down in the other line/4]:
(3,1 or 4) Mad Robin CW 1/2x around opposite N you swung [G thru center
first], OpL1 pass in front of G1 in middle to swap ends [to OpL2, OpL1, G1,
(3,1 or 4) All Pass Same Role Trail Buddy in Fig 8 arc (same arc, but
opposite dir.) to trade places [G1 and OpL1 take outside path - "insides
out"], OpL2 pass in front of G2 in middle to swap ends [to OpL1, G2, OpL2,
(3,1 or 4) Mad Robin CCW 1/2x around opposite N [G thru center first], OpL1
pass in front of G1 in middle to swap ends [to G2, G1, OpL1, OpL2]
(3,1 or 4) All Pass Same Role Trail Buddy in Fig 8 arc (same arc, opposite
dir.) to trade places [G1 and OpL1 take outside path - "insides out"], OpL2
pass in front of G2 in middle to swap ends [to end in same positions as
start of A2: G1, OpL2, G2, OpL1]
B1 w/Opposites Circle/4 Left 3/4x to (face & Pass Partner Right to start)
Weave the Ring/8 1/2x
B2 Partner Balance (or Gypsy) and Swing, face progression
BTW, it was this dance idea that fed what became another related dance on
my site, Wild Mouse: http://veino.com/blog/?p=1879 . Neither of these have
I dared to attempt to date.