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?
So asking one of the most asked questions on this list? "Anyone seen this dance before?" It came to me as I was preparing for the Norwich, VT dance and I called it last night. Thanks!
Spring Forward – Impr. contra (doubleprogresssion)
A1: Neighbor B & S
A2: Ladies Ch across; Ladies Ch back
B1: Long Lines F & B; 1s swing (end facing down)
B2: (with newneighbors) Circle Clockwise 1full hour; Bal. the ring and Spring forward to next
Sandy LafleurPO Box 877Wilton, NH 03086
Since the beginning of man the hours between the coming of night and the coming of sleep have belonged to the tellers of tales and the makers of music.
I haven't called all that many techno contras, and I'm slated to do so this
weekend. Any tips or things to keep in mind about how techno differs from
your standard contra evening? (Particularly curious about anything relating
to dance choice and dance length.)
I wanted a closer with a Rory O'Moore and a partner balance and swing. This
is what I came up with. Does this (or a variant thereof) already exist?
*Wave Goodbye* (becket L)
A1: (on the L diagonal) give and take N (to lark's side)
A2: ravens chain (to P)
ravens alle. R 1 1/2 to short waves (LH to N, ravens by R)
B1: bal. L and R, slide L (short waves, RH to N, larks by L)
bal. R and L, slide R, ravens sliding extra to pass each other
B2: P b&s
Tossed this together last night to go with one of my techno DJ's tracks,
because I wanted petronellas in the B, but NOT Tica Tica Timing/Old Time
Elixir. Does this exist?
*Hold You In My Arms*, improper
A1: (new) larks alle. L 1 1/4 (ish)
A2: long lines forward and back
ravens chain (to N)
B1: bal. the ring and spin R (2x)
B2: neighbor balance and swing
(look on slight L. diagonal for new larks)
I have a brand new Samson SE10 (earset microphone) which comes with several connectors to work with different beltpack transmitters. I move around way too much when calling and the original broke. Samson sent me a replacement under warranty so this is completely new: it still has the plastic baggies on all the items in the brand new box. Contact me for pictures or questions. I’m hoping to get $60 for this.
Billerica, MA, USA
Maia:Don't believe that. I called with a DJ who didn't know how long their tracks were and couldn't tell me how they started and often went down on the floor to dance once the music started. One track ended in the middle of the A2. And there was no clear "start" to any of the phrasing in most of the tracks. Not a fun evening for me.
Web Site: donnahuntcaller.com
From: Maia McCormick via Callers <callers(a)lists.sharedweight.net>
To: jim saxe <jim.saxe(a)gmail.com>
Cc: Caller's discussion list <callers(a)sharedweight.net>
Sent: Fri, Mar 29, 2019 1:06 pm
Subject: Re: [Callers] Calling techno?
I don't think you would ever play a random non-vetted techno track for contra, though. The DJs who get booked for these events are specifically techno contra DJs.
On Fri, Mar 29, 2019 at 11:59 AM jim saxe via Callers <callers(a)lists.sharedweight.net> wrote:
On Mar 28, 2019, at 2:39 PM, Bob via Callers <callers(a)lists.sharedweight.net> wrote:
> Live or mixed recordings? If live then it should be perfectly square AABB. If mixed, the only thing you can count on is 8-beat phrases. ...
Can you even count on 8-beat phrases if someone, such as a caller or a knowledgeable DJ, hasn't vetted the tracks?
I know practically nothing about techno music, but recordings in other genres that aren't made for phrased dancing will not necessarily follow strict 8-beat phrasing. For instance ...
It's pretty common for a folk singers accompanying themselves to play a few bars of guitar strums--and not always the same number--while trying to remember the first line of the next verse. While I haven't gone looking for examples, I'd be surprised if such variable inter-verse vamping didn't sometimes appear even on studio recordings.
In some fiddle traditions, such as southern and Quebecois, besides straight tunes and wildly crooked tunes, there are also tunes that are mostly straight but have an occasional odd phrase. Even medleys of straight tunes can sometimes have some extra beats at the transitions between tunes, as heard around 0:59 in this video:
Yo-Yo Ma - Fiddle Medley ft. Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile
Line dances are mostly choreographed to music that's in multiples of 8 beats, but exceptions are hardly unusual. Also, in order to fit recordings that were made for listening and not specifically for dance routines, line-dance step sheets may prescribe various irregularities in the routines. Here are just a few of the examples a little searching turned up:
Boot Scootin’ Boogie
38 count, 4 wall, beginner line dance
Every Little Honky Tonk
32-count, 4 wall line dance with 12-count tag after wall 2
Came Here To Forget
Description: Line Dance - 2 Wall (24ct.) - Intermediate 1 Restart, 2 Tags
Sequence: 24, 24, Tag 1, 14cts- Restart, 24, 24, Tag 2 (6cts.), 24, 24...
For some other examples of music that's largely, *but not entirely*, in chunks of 8 beats (or eight bars of triple meter), try listening to any of these while tapping your foot or fingers and counting along:
Paul McCartney - When I'm 64
Julie Andrews - My Favorite Things
Nancy Sinatra - These Boots Are Made for Walkin'
So here's my question, for those of you who are more familiar with techno music than I am: If you play a random track not already "vetted" for phrasing, if you find a place where there's sufficiently discernible phrasing to establish a starting point for your "mental metronome of 8 counts" (to quote Donna Hunt), if you use that mental metronome to carry you through a part where phrasing is less evident, and if you then get to another part with findable phrasing, how reliably (or not) can you expect that the phrases will still line up with your mental eight-counts?
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I have a gig coming up at a library wherein I have one hour to teach and
call contra dances. It's a mixed crowd, and I heard there may be a lot of
tweens present. I think I'd like to focus on bigger picture things - moving
up and down the line, swinging, interacting with their set. I imagine I may
even cut out courtesy turns in order to minimize the time we spend on the
lesson. I've taught for small, mostly inexperienced crowds before but I
usually have a lot more time. I'd really rather get them moving than to get
bogged down in teaching. Does anyone have insight, suggestions, or advice?