Wow, you're biting off too much.
Teach them community-dance stuff first - circle mixers, easy things to
get them used to touching, allemanding, and giving weight.
If they refuse to take hands and circle left, then I suggest you fake a
heart attack and get out.
[n.b. this has been 'cross posted' to the yahoo traditional callers list, in cas
e anyone is on
This post from a llooonnnngg time dancer and first time caller who is
requesting some advice for an unusual situation...but as it is my
first post, I will explain a little about myself, and along the way
that will explain the unusual situation and help guide and refine any
My name is david crespo, a name some of you no doubt fear -- I mean
recognize -- or would (recognize, that is) (if you saw my ugly
mug) (well, maybe fear...) from my 20 odd (quite odd) years of
dancing and involvement in the dance community in New England, mostly
Vermont (Etna, Norwich, Thetford, to Northern Spy etc.) and Maine
(SMFA (Yarmouth), Falmouth, Bates, Bowdoinham...). As some of you
thus know, about 3 years ago, at a Wake the Neighbors Bates dance I
was met by a cute and not very frightening Japanese exchange student,
Yukie, who with a very little gentle nudging at Deffa a week later,
eventually (rapidly, that is) was able to parlay that happenstance
circumstance into what is now a beautiful and happy marriage. She
returned to Japan shortly after we completed our courtship and about
a year later I followed. We're living in Kyoto.
Alas, there is one tragic note attending this otherwise joyous and
perfect scenario. Japan, you see, is a land thouroughly devoid of one
essential nutrient: contradancing. You can imagine my dismay, tears,
and lamentations. Sadly, then, since my arrival, I have been quietly
(well not so quietly) teaching english while secretly incubating evil
plans to conquer Japan, then Asia, then the world in 64 (drastic)
measures (hmmm--- good name for a dance). This month, my long patient
agony of waiting has begun to pay off. I have been given the
opportunity to indoctrinate a few trusting and innocent souls into
the sublime mysteries of la dance du contra and create an army of
swiftfooted robots, ready and willing to do my bidding at every call.
SOON I WILL CONQUER THE WORLD!!!
please excuse me while my medicine kicks in. Ah, yes, thank you. OK,
where was I? The fact is, my wife and I have been invited to lead a
contradance workshop at a local festival on October 20. When we found
out, we began doing as much research as we could on calling and so
on. We found a few basic dances, like Baby Rose and Diane's Visit and
Atonement Reel that we like and figured would be suitable and we have
been practicing calling them. But I really welcome any suggestions...
Actually, above and beyond some decades of doing things proper and
improper, I took a caller workshop or two from Rick Mohr (thanks
Rick) so I have a rough idea of what's involved. And I've learned a
bit from practicing calling and writing a few ad hoc dances on my
own. For example, I learned that being a dancer has habituated me to
act ON the beat, but as a caller I need to act BEFORE the beat,
eh....this flustered me at first. Are there any other typical first
caller pointers we should be on the lookout for?
In addition, there are a few other associated circumstances in this
project that create the aforementioned unique situation. In brief
(HA! fooled you), since I've rattled on too long, here is what I mean:
I don't speak more than the rudiments of Japanese. My wife is still a
beginner dancer, to wit, she isn't a strong enough one to call on her
own. Between us we are trying to teach each other what the other
lacks and hopefully make one good caller out of the two of us. One
question that has come up is is it better to keep the standard names
for the figures, or to Japanify them. (We are leaning to the
former...Japanese has a very high percentage of english loan words,
and they learn english (poooooorly) in school.) Still, has anyone
ever tried to call across a language barrier?
Japanese are touch sensitve. They don't touch, they don't give eye
contact. They don't give weight. (They give wait). They don't hug.
They don't even say I love you. They are very shy. For example, I am
told that this is to the point that standing in a line of men facing
a line of women is likely be uncomfortable, even for the younger
generation, so Yukie feels we should use mixed couples with armbands
to distinguish "gender"--I mean position. As we build a community of
experienced dancers, it would be expected that some of this
inhibition might wear off...). You can see why they need to dance. On
the other hand, they are good followers. Any advice for working with
a shy crowd?
Some or many of the attendees at this workshop, we just found out,
are likely to be children. Depending on the percentage, it may be
necessary to do a kids dance, or at least a dance kids could enjoy. I
am good at working with kids in general, but I would love any advice
for doing a dance with young people. I don't know or haven't been
able to find any children's dances, though I assume the Family Dance
in Yarmouth is still up and I plan to contact Jeff Raymond about it,
because I can't remember the caller's name (Nancy....) (though we
have danced and chatted about dancing and calling several times at
the May Day Festival...gads! say hi if you're listening..).
So, children's dances are one thing I am looking for.
We are working in a small space...maybe two lines of six couples
each. Advice for small spaces???
We are doing three workshops. If the same people return, we may do
more advanced things, or we may just repeat teh workshop...but I
would like to try different dances each time, for my practice.
The room will be full of beginners, so no experienced dancers to rely
on. Ballroom dancing had a certain following here (and in Kyoto there
is a small set dancing group that we visited...small 14 or so... and
a square dancing group that we plan to visit. ) but not enough to be
helpful, in the sense that there are few cultural supports for
learning (i.e. in the US most everyone knows (even if they don't
admit it) how to at least fake a waltz or ballroom position...not
here.) Think martian territory...
I should add that we are seriously working towards starting a regular
dance here (we've found an available and very suitable space, a
church hall in a nearby church, for example) and this is for us a
tryout and possible stepping stone. We want to whet people's
appetite, and leave them wanting more. We have a half hour to do it...
OK...apologies for the verbose and windy post. Fond regards to all of
you I know, hajimemashite ("nice to meet you" in japanese, literally
"beginning") to the rest and many thanks in advance for your time and
nothing rhymes with nostril...
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