Thanks David! I chuckled at your parenthetical remark "(Or, stated more
specifically,always a crowd pleaser for the crowd at this particular
weekend)". It certainly is a good idea to take into account who the crowd
actually is, isn't it!
Anyone else have highlights?
[mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]On Behalf Of David Millstone
Sent: Thursday, February 16, 2006 8:52 AM
To: cynth(a)gwi.net; callers(a)sharedweight.net
Subject: Re: [Callers] RPDLW
Cynthia asked about highlights of the Ralph Page weekend and anything in
particular that we learned there.
One big highlight for me--can one have a small highlight?--was the
to dance again to Tod Whittemore's calling. Within a few minutes of his
the stage on Friday night, I was remembering why it was so much fun to dance
him. He has a great sense of humor and has a lot of fun on stage; that sense
having a good time spreads throughout the hall.
Tod does not call complex dances-- no heys for four on the left diagonal, or
multiple Petronella twirls. He sticks with simpler material. As he put it in
callers' workshop: "I'm not Larry Jennings, and I don't think like Larry
Jennings. I'd get lost calling some of the more complicated dances." He
to simple material that he likes, teaches the dances efficiently, and lets
dancers enjoy the music. He sized up the crowd quickly and called several
Between Tod and Lisa Greenleaf, we did a lot of grand square variations in
course of the weekend, always a crowd pleaser. (Or, stated more
always a crowd pleaser for the crowd at this particular weekend.)
In his caller's workshop, Tod was encouraging us to think about why we call.
started by posing five questions:
1. Do you habitually book dances ahead?
2. In a dance hall of six lines across, where would you choose (generally)
3. What is your most memorable (positive) dance experience?
4. What is your most memorable (positive) calling experience? (Tod then
"...that had an impact on you as a caller?")
5. When you plan a program, what criteria do you focus on? What are your top
three? (Since Tod likes to call singing squares, one of his top three
is to be sure to include them in every program.)
I'm indebted to David Smukler for keeping track of this information for the
syllabus he compiles every year. The syllabus from this year will be posted
about a year at the UNH website, but you can purchase a paper copy from
before then. They're usually available in time for the NEFFA festival. You
find many more details about Tod's workshop, including many of the answers
shared to these questions. Lisa Greenleaf's workshop focused on calling for
night stands; amny callers attended, and the syllabus is full of dance
directions for simple dances, in addition to some overall guidelines about
programming such events.
Another highlight, which I happened to capture on videotape, came on Sunday
afternoon, when Tod was calling one of his signature yodeling square dances,
Grandma Slid Down the Mountain. He was joined on the yodeling by Bob
I'll aim to have footage of that available for viewing at the RPDLW table at
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