Passing on a request...
I'd like to request recommendations for a caller and musicians (at least a fiddler) for a 200 person wedding July 9th at Smith Mountain Lake in the south western corner of Virginia. Ideally, this would include an experienced caller from the region who is skilled at introducing CD to the uninitiated and enthusiastic.
Any help appreciated. Thanks!
David Chandler (New Jersey)
You are always full of good ideas and good energy. Just to let you know - I did a similar thing in 1999 - wrote an article for the CDSS News which resulted in the publication of a CDSS-produced pamphlet entitled 'Family and Community Dances' with contributions from Dudley, Andy Davis, Bob Dalsemer, Joan Shimer and myself. That article, now entitled 'Calling for Community and Family Groups: A Primer for Contradance Callers' has been revised many times since (including today) and I have attached it for your reading pleasure.
Also, all the books put out by the Community Dance Project (me), the New England Dancing Masters, Sanna Longden, Dudley Laufman, Bob Dalsemer, Bob Walser, Dina Blade, and others are in fact 'community dancing' repertoire.
I offer this information as background for your laudable project. I think it would be important to first determine what existing resources are out there and then see what would be most useful for contra dance callers. I have many ideas along those lines and would be happy to help in any way that I can.
CP 8162, 150 rue Racine Est
Chicoutimi, QC G7H 5B7
(418) 545-6603 (maison)
(581) 234-1614 (cellulaire)
Dear friends and colleagues,
For the past 5 years, I've been hosting an annual Spring gathering of
callers and musicians who primarily call (or play) for Community or school
Most of the attendees have been local caller friends and musicians and some
of the people who attend the annual Pourparler Conference ("Pourparler is a
yearly gathering of dance and music educators from North America who are
dedicated to teaching folk/ethnic/world/traditional dance in schools and/or
community events." see http://nfo-usa.org/pourparler.htm).
After reading some of the last set of posts on the trad-dance-callers list
about ONS and Community dances, I thought I would open it up to invite any
of you who would like to attend. Consider "KISS" (keep it simple, s...) to
be the organizational theme - friendly, casual, fun, with minimal cost. The
main focus of the workshops is *dance sharing* and discussions of a variety
of topics. There are not a lot of opportunities for callers to spend time
with each other in this way, so we created one.
The dates are Saturday and Sunday, April 2nd and 3rd, with a Community
Dance at the Cornwall, CT Town Hall on Saturday evening (they hold a
monthly Community Dance there). Sunday's workshop is held in Newtown, CT at
If you are interested in more information, please contact me *off-list*
(please use countrydancecaller (at) gmail.com).
A BID to raise £200,000 to restore the main hall at the Primrose Hill home of the English Folk Dance and Song Society has been launched.
Cecil Sharp House, in Regents Park Road, has been the headquarters for the society since it moved into the purpose-built building in 1930. But its principal room, Kennedy Hall, designed by architects Godfrey Pinkerton and Henry Fletcher, is in desperate need of a major overhaul to return it to its former glory.
Half of the total cost of £400,000 has already been met through a grant from the Arts Council, but now the society hopes to raise the rest through individual donations.
Painted by the celebrated English artist Ivon Hitchens, today this historic, 60ft X 20ft piece is being restored.
Jim Dimond is leading the team of conservators, who are painstakingly repairing the paint and the canvas using a range of techniques.
Despite hanging for nearly 70 years, sections have survived well. It has previously been cleaned to take off years of cigarette smoke and tar from its surface. Now the main dangers are dust and car pollution.
<< and if a dance takes longer than one minute to show or teach, I don't use it. >>
Don Armstrong (one of my chief role models) wrote in his column in American Squares in the 1950s that a dance should take less time to teach than to dance. He gave examples: If a square dance figure lasts about 30 seconds (once through an AABB tune) and is done four times, the walkthrough should take no more than two minutes. If you're teaching a break which will be done three times, the walkthrough should take 90 seconds or less. A contra figure, because it's repeated ad infinitum, doesn't have an obvious benchmark, but I try to keep the walkthrough down to a couple of minutes.
Don was talking about the sort of event that was then widely known as an "open dance," as opposed to a workshop. In a daytime session at a dance camp I won't necessarily follow Don's guideline; there are many figures and breaks that require careful teaching and repetition but are very satisfying to do once learned. But at a one-nighter or an ordinary series dance (or an evening dance at a camp) I try to stick to that rule - except perhaps for one or two dances near the middle of the evening. At one-nighters Beth and I both enjoy using the harder version of Duck for the Oyster (where on "Duck through the hole in the old tin can" the dancers invert the circle without dropping hands; the move is also known as "Roll the barrel"). But we make sure we've gained the dancers' confidence first, by giving them several dances that they can do with no trouble after a walkthrough of 30 or 60 seconds - or no walkthrough at all.
On 3/9/2016 6:48 AM, Tony Parkes tony(a)hands4.com [trad-dance-callers] wrote:
> When I was a very young and unseasoned caller, I fell in love with
> contras and tried to include them in my one-nighters. In order to get a
> majority of people to understand the progression, I had to make the
> walkthrough longer than the dance. It didn’t help that I was using
> dances like Haymakers’ Jig, which has a ladies chain and needs a decent
> swing to avoid falling flat. People were giving up and sitting down
> before the music stopped. After a year or two I gave up on using contras
> with groups of all first-timers.
> At one-nighters these days I always do a Sicilian circle as the second
> dance of the evening, usually the first figure of Ed Durlacher’s Sanita
> Hill Circle: circles, do-si-dos, stars, forward & back and pass through.
I've had some difficulties getting ONS dancers into position for
Sicilian circles, especially if there's alcohol at the event. My usual
strategy has been to get everyone into a big circle with their partner,
then scoot quickly around the circle moving the couples so they're face
to face. There tends to be a fair bit of driftage and wandering,
though, and often by the time i get round the circle the first folks
have fallen out of place or other couples have drifted in and need to be
corralled. Nonetheless, Sicilians seem like a really good way to
approach progressive longways dances for a ONS group. I'd welcome any
proven strategies for forming the circle. Perhaps avoiding those winery
Kalia in the wine country, CA
When I was a very young and unseasoned caller, I fell in love with contras and tried to include them in my one-nighters. In order to get a majority of people to understand the progression, I had to make the walkthrough longer than the dance. It didn't help that I was using dances like Haymakers' Jig, which has a ladies chain and needs a decent swing to avoid falling flat. People were giving up and sitting down before the music stopped. After a year or two I gave up on using contras with groups of all first-timers.
I had better luck with a twice-monthly series I co-produced in NYC for several years. I typically did one contra per night, sometimes two. (I've always tried to give people material they wouldn't otherwise have been exposed to: contras in those days when I was in an all-squares area, squares more recently as contras have become the norm.)
At one-nighters these days I always do a Sicilian circle as the second dance of the evening, usually the first figure of Ed Durlacher's Sanita Hill Circle: circles, do-si-dos, stars, forward & back and pass through. (If there aren't enough people for a Sicilian, I change B.2 to a scatter promenade.) I tell the group (if I'm not doing the scatter version) that they may have heard the term "contra dances" and that this is an easy example. "In a square dance you do different things with the same people; in a contra dance you do the same thing with different people." In a Sicilian you get the repetition and the progression, which together provide most of the feel of a longways contra without requiring a lot of teaching about the different roles and the change of roles at the end of the line.
Very often, during the initial inquiry and negotiations, the organizer will ask for contra dances as my part of the program, or will refer to the whole event as a contra dance. I've learned to ask what they're thinking of when they say "contra." Usually they mean the sort of thing I normally do: easy all-moving dances in a variety of formations. They call it "contra dancing" because that term is now more common than "square dancing" in New England outside the MWSD scene. Sometimes they have almost no idea what's involved; when I describe my typical ONS program, they say that's just what they want. I rarely encounter a ONS organizer who knows what duple contras are and definitely wants one or more. When that happens, it's usually because a substantial percentage of the group will be regular contra dancers. I may call something like Chorus Jig "for those who know," or something like Jefferson's for everyone, making sure the first-timers are dispersed throughout the set. Or both if time allows.
My goal is always to provide a maximum amount of moving to music with a minimum of teaching.
Hullo Dance folks,
I'm searching for which publication I've seen a lovely map depicting the
flow and adoption / adaptation of Country Dance as it Went Abroad (from
England to France, nestling in as Contredanse/Quadrilles), back "home",
and then to "North of the Border" (look! SCD), and possibly more.
I'm hoping someone knows the one I'm speaking of. If I can find it in
time I'll include it in a presentation I'm doing, and if not this time
probably in the next.
(I _did_ find one from American Country Dance that shows in family tree
form the Ancestry of American Square Dance, however it's not quite what
Thanks in advance, and for your time in reading.
Island Dance - Folk & Country
dance info - site & mail list
Vancouver Island & BC islands
JD Erskine <island.dance(a)shaw.ca>