I have lots of experience working in such an environment. As Chris said,
the swing is the biggest issue. MWSD rotate once and Twirl out of the
swing. (A good swing worksphop would help.) When calling to such groups,
I limit the swings to eight beats, (Replace a balance & swing, with a DSD
& swing) Select your dances carefully.
Also since MWSDers are used to moving to the beat and not the phrase, I
would use simple wholeset dances, like Galopede, to initiate them to the
phase. Also a couple of New England style squares would help.
Another area of difficuly is progressions, so chose them carefully. Becket
dances usually work well.
As a final bit of advice, introduce new calls slowly, until the dancers are
comfortable with contra. There are so many calls that overlap both
communities such as Box the Gnat, Rollaway, and California Twirl, that you
will have lots of dances to choose from. Once you win them over, you can
add calls that are not on their lists, such as Hey for Four and Mad Robin.
I am excited about your opportunity, and would enjoy getting a report back,
about your success.
On Sat, Feb 20, 2016 at 6:28 PM, Joseph Erhard-Hudson via Callers <
I've been pretty low-key on calling for several years now, just a few
local dances a year. Years ago I did close to one gig a month at home and
around my local region, but cut back due to busy life. Now I've accepted an
invitation for a regular gig that's going to be a bit different, so I'm
back on this email list, and I seek your advice.
A few people from the nearby Western Square Dance group came to one of our
local contra dances where I was calling, and had such a fun time they have
invited me, and the band from that evening, to come and do a monthly series
in their hall, promoted and sponsored by them. The band and I decided we'd
give it a shot.
I've had barely any exposure to Western Square Dance, but I know their
education system is formalized, calling is improvised, and the music is
mostly recorded; whereas in contra dancing the education is more by
assimilation, the calling is mostly fixed within a given dance, and the
music is live and improvised. I anticipate we may feel like strange cousins
to each other. Do any of you have any experiences or thoughts about
crossing over into this parallel universe of traditional dancers? I'm
particularly concerned about how I can best help them feel comfortable with
the way Contra Dance is done, and how I can be a gracious presence in their
Bonus question: they want to know how to split the gate, since they don't
have experience paying bands. Your thoughts?
Callers mailing list