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
Hello Callers! Around the breakfast table at Penelope Weinberger’s house this morning, while on tour with Cloud Ten, I came up with this dance. Wrote it with the Sam Bartlett tune Penelope’s Cruise (also written for Penelope Weinberger) in mind. Wondering if it is already out there? Thanks for your input!
Breakfast at Penelope’s
by Jean Gorrindo
(8) Partner R-Hand Balance; Square Thru (pull by Partner with Right, Neighbor Left)
(8) Partner Balance & Box the Gnat
(16) Neighbor balance and swing
(8) Women allemande Right 1-1/2
(8) Partner swing
(8) Long lines, forward and back
(8) Women's Chain
As may be obvious, I love Mad Robins. I'm still working on what is the best
way to teach them.
I know about the "Dosido/now face your Partner/on the same path as the
Dosido, do a Mad Robin" approach and have used it.
I've heard other callers I admire admonish to not use the "wrong" move as a
teaching tool for the "right" move - as it's that much harder to "unlearn"
the original bit.
What I've observed is that newer dancers may end up focused on the wrong
person, facing the wrong direction, and possibly doing the "Dosido Twirl"
when using the Dosido teach. But they *do* follow the correct path (so long
as the caller remembers to say SeeSaw vs. Dosido as the correct analogue)
on the floor. Some can make the facing adjustment and some persist in
facing the wrong way. If the dance tolerates the facing differences, all is
As a practice, I actively solicit feedback on my calling at each gig. Out
of a recent one I got into an extended discussion about the Mad Robin teach
with a dancer whom had struggled with their beginner partner in a sequence
that evening. I had read that crowd as highly experienced so did only a
basic teaching of the move, which they reported having not got through to
this beginner. They freely offered that all was well around them, it was
just a frustration in their own experience. We touched on the merits and
drawbacks of the Dosido teach (which I chose not to use in that situation
as it appears to annoy experienced dancers, plus because of the above
I'm trying to evolve to something that teaches both the correct motion and
the facing direction at the same time - *without* taxing experienced folks'
patience. I have my own ideas on this but welcome others'.
So, how do *you* teach a Mad Robin most effectively and efficiently? Do you
vary it by context, crowd composition, other factors?
I don't recall seeing the dip-and-dive-across-the-set figure before
(choreographically equivalent to right and through), came up with this,
called it tonight and people seemed to have fun. I don't think it
registers as too gimmicky for hot contra dancers because they get the
twirls to face back in, and it goes well pretty early in the evening
Bouncy, jolly (Quebecois, polka?), or smooth and driving.
Alan Winston, 9/27/2018
A1: Neighbor balance and swing, face across
A2: Dip and dive across the set (couple containing #1gent arches first)
1-2: Cross over
3-4: All California twirl
5-6: Other couple arches, cross back
7-8: All California twirl, let go.
B1: Gents/Larks pass right shoulder to partner
Partners right shoulder round and swing on the ladies/ravens side
B2: Cl 3/4 (to progressed crossed over places)
Balance the ring
I have some cryptic notes about the dance by Robert Cromartie: "Would you do it for $20", and it's not complete.
Would someone, please, send me the figures so that I can correct my notes? Thanks.
My latest dance for your enjoyment, with an animation at
Keith Wood September 2018
Becket formation, double reverse progression
The snakelike move for the men to reunite with their partners inspired
this dance, and its name. If there's a spare couple at the bottom they
wait together on the "men's" line. The woman joins in from the diagonal
ladies chain, while the man joins in from the snake.
A1 Men allemande left once around, while women orbit clockwise half-way
A2 On the left diagonal, ladies chain to shadow
Opposite do-si-do left shoulder
B1 Star left once around
Star right once around
B2 Snake: Men allemande right 5/8, next neighbour allemande left 1/2,
next neighbour allemande right 1/2 to face partner; man coming out at
the end loop right and rejoin immediately
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