I am hosting/organizing a contra dance on Sunday evening, May 21st, to
celebrate Ralph Sweet's 88th birthday. This is the last dance in Ralph's
Shindig in the Barn series this season, and next season is not a
certainty. Ralph's son Walter is part of a trio of musicians that will be
providing the dance music.
We are planning this dance as a tribute, and a thank you to Ralph for all
he is to the dance community, and I am hoping for multiple callers to
participate. If you are available, and would like to call a dance please
send me a message. I can program in about 10 callers, and I will reserve
slots on a first come, first serve basis.
Please consider helping us to make this dance at Ralph's barn a celebration!
A friend is looking for a dance called by Steve Zakon-Anderson and she
believes it's called "A Great Catch."
Her description, as she remembers it, is:
"Ladies left allemande 1 1/2 and balance in a short wave with partner in R
hand, Walk forward to new wave with your shadow in your R hand, Allemand R
1 1/4 with shadow to long lines, ladies facing out, men facing in, Slide to
the right in front of your shadow and catch your partner for a swing,
?Circle to the left all the way around"
Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
*Looking forward,Linda S. Mrosko*
*102 Mitchell Drive*
*Temple, Texas 76501*
*(903) 292-3713 (Cell)*
*(903) 603-9955 (Skype)*
*www.zazzle.com/fuzzycozy* <http://www.zazzle.com/fuzzycozy*> (Dance
buttons, t-shirts, & more)*
When Cecil Sharp published the figures for what he dubbed the
"running set" in Part V of _The Country Dance Book_ (1918), he
didn't publish the actual tunes he had heard played at dances
in Kentucky, but instead recommended other tunes (which he
published in _Country Dance Tunes, Set 9_) as "superior to the
Kentucky tunes in melodic interest." I'm wondering whether
notations of the *actual* tunes Sharp heard in Kentucky--or
even their titles--still exist.
The tunes in question do *not* appear in _English Folk Songs
from the Southern Appalachians_ (collected by Cecil Sharp,
edited by Maud Karpeles, originally published in 1932, but the
copy I'm looking at is a 2012 reprinting of the 1952 "second
impression"), though that work does include fifteen "Jig
Tunes" that Karpeles describes as being used to accompany solo
In the preface to _English Folk Songs from the Southern
Appalachians_, Karpeles writes [Vo1. 1, p. xiii,footnote 4]:
Cecil Sharp's original manuscript collection is in the
Clare College Library at Cambridge, and there are also
complete copies in the Harvard College Library, Cambridge,
Massachusetts, and in the New York Public Library.
If Sharp's transcriptions of Kentucky tunes for the "running set"
have not yet been published elsewhere, perhaps they still survive
in those collections.
Does anybody know?
I also have a related question.
Out of the fifteen tunes Sharp published in _Country Dance Tunes,
Set 9_ as suggested for the "running set", nine are in 6/8 time
and one is in 9/8. I also have a copy of Douglas and Helen
Kennedy's _Square Dances of America_, which includes 18 tunes.
[Note: There was also another, I believe later, edition with
fewer tunes.] The Kennedys recommend ten of those 18 tunes for
the "running set", and out of those ten tunes, nine are in 6/8
My question is: Is this idea of 6/8 music for the "running set"
entirely a fancy conceived by Sharp and picked up by the Kennedys,
or does it have even a slight basis in Kentucky tradition?
I'm strongly inclined to guess the former, but one thing gives me
pause: Describing the music for the "running set", Sharp writes
[_The Country Dance Book_, Part V, p. 17]:
Throughout the dance the onlookers and the performers
also, when not actually dancing, should enforce the rhythm
of the music by "patting," i.e., alternately stamping and
clapping. ... In 6/8 time the hands are usually clapped
on the third and sixth quavers, but the "patter" will
often strike his thighs, right hand on right thigh on the
second and fifth quavers, and left hand on left thigh on
the third and sixth, stamping of course on the first and
fourth quavers. ...
Whatever anyone thinks of Sharp's taste in calling the Kentucky
dance tunes a "inferior", I don't know of claims that he was
technically unskilled at notating what he was hearing. The
detailed description above seems to suggest that he actually
heard such 6/8 rhythms in Kentucky. (By the way, when I try
to "pat" in the manner described in the last few lines quoted
above, I find that it's not so easy. Doing it accurately,
especially at a fast tempo, could take a good deal of practice.
Or perhaps it would be easier to learn by emulating someone
than by trying to work it out for myself from the printed
Phil Jamison has a collection of 95 recordings of southern
callers made in the period 1924-1933.
These include dances in both big circle and four-couple
square formations. I've listened to most of these and I don't
recall a single one being in 6/9 time. If there really was a
tradition of 6/8 dance music in the southeastern U.S., it's
a bit surprising that it wouldn't be represented at least once
in Phil's collection.
I'll note also that the "jig tunes" in _English Folk Songs
from the Southern Appalachians_ are not in 6/8. They're all
notated in duple meters--2/2 or 4/4--except for a few places
where a tune mostly notated in 2/2 has an odd beat notated
using an isolated measure in 3/2. The collection does
include a number of songs in 6/8.
The Wikipedia article on Maud Karpeles says:
... In 1950, and again in 1955, she returned to the
Appalachian Mountains (aged 65 and 70). This time she
travelled with a heavy reel-to-reel recording machine,
and recorded singers for the BBC. Some of the people
she met remembered meeting Sharp the first time around.
I don't know whether she recorded or notated any tunes for
dancing on those trips.
Thanks for whatever light anyone can shed on any of these
I host a contra weekend and I've taught workshops. I've been to.a few dance
weekends as a dancer as well, and I've seen a wide variety in what callers
and organizers put together; this has informed what we do in our weekend.
We always try to have a theme. We usually don't come up with it; we'd much
rather have the caller present something s/he's prepared for than something
that occurred to the organizing committee, but we want the dancers to know
what to expect. If the workshop is one long medley grid square it's nice to
know you'll need the stamina for an hour's worth of continuous dancing
before you start.
Themes fall into two broad categories: Dancer training (safety,
gender-role-swapping exercises, how to cope with end effects, etc.) or parts
of the dance world to explore (chestnuts, diagonal moves, emerging dance
trends, try squares or ECD or African dance or polka, or just "here are some
of my favorite dances").
This doesn't always work. Sometimes the caller doesn't have anything ready;
in that case we relabel the session as just dancing.
The word "workshop" implies you're going to learn something, so we apply
that to our caller workshops too. I sat thru too many
sit-in-a-circle-what-do-you-want-to-talk-about sessions where I didn't come
out knowing any more than I went in, so when it was my turn to organize them
I insisted that the caller have a plan. Something to teach. Some way to
improve the experience of the people who come to our dances-even if it's
just coaching the callers thru a dance.
Ditto with musical workshops. Most are "let's learn a couple of tunes", and
feedback from our musicians was that this was a waste of time-they can learn
a fiddle tune from a YouTube video or a cd. Our music workshops always have
some element of teaching to them: improvisation, or how to structure a dance
set, ways to build energy, or something aspiring (mostly dance) musicians
can use. We provide time and space for jamming as well, but want the
workshops to have structure to them.
Dance, Music, and Spice week at Camp Cavell, in Michigan, had an incredible inaugural week last summer, and we are planning an equally phenomenal week this coming August 13-20. The setting is gorgeous, the staff are outstanding, and the program is extraordinary. My goal is to fill the week, so I encourage you to register early, to secure a spot. Scholarships are available, if the cost is beyond your means. Read more on CDSS' website: http://www.cdss.org/…/dance-music-song-cam…/camp-weeks/spice.
I hope to see you at camp!Carol Ormand, Program DirectorMadison, WI
This is addressed to callers who have led contra workshops at dance
weekends, or people who have been involved in organizing said weekends.
When you have an afternoon contra workshop what is your thoughts on
having a theme for the workshop? That is you could advertise it as
being "Advanced Contras", "Classic Contras", "Contras with a
Difference", etc. It seems that this might let people know, to some
small degree, what to expect. On the other hand there may be little or
no point to it. People interested in contra dance will likely attend
the workshop. Of course the caller might have a theme or at least some
sort of central idea to help in selecting dances, but that may or may
not be advertised.
What are your thoughts on trying to come up with a theme/title for
contra dance workshops? What do you see as the pros and cons?
Caller of Contra, Square, English and Early American Dances
jsivier AT illinois DOT edu
Dance Page: http://www.sivier.me/dance_leader.html
Q: How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
A: It depends on what dance you call!
Designating who does what in the figure: "????? Chain" ...
This is a subject that probably deserves its own thread - so
I'll start it.
The immediate spur to discuss this arises from the message
quoted farther below.
But I've been ruminating about the issue for 30+ years ...
30+ years ago, in Chicago, the figure "people's chain" was used
occasionally. It was accepted as dancing the same action as
"ladies chain", but from a proper set (all the gents on one
side, all the ladies on the other). It was used [blasphemously,
thought some] with some of the Chestnuts in place of "proper-set
R&L thru," to add a bit of spice.
About 30 years ago, I attended a dance weekend - in Kentucky, I
think, (maybe Camp Levi Jackson?) - at which we had the unusual
(for dance camps) situation of more men than women on the dance
floor. (In fact, having an all-guy square evened things up
It's safe to say that among all the above dancers, "gents chain"
was already accepted as the gents doing a mirror image of the
"ladies chain," starting from the lady's left.
At the dance camp, Gene Hubert test-drove a new contra (can't
remember the name, unfortunately - sorry) in which the gents
were to the right of their partners on the sides of the set -
and Gene wanted the gents to chain across. In the walk-through,
Gene explained that he would call, "gents do a ladies chain." A
perfectly good solution for the moment. But to me, it seemed a
bit lacking for the long-haul.
Gene and I had a discussion that evening about how this
situation might be handled more generally. I suggested that we
might, in this situation, say, "gents do a right-hand chain."
Or, even better, just say, "chain by the right" or "right-hand
chain" ... when it occurred to me that, if it weren't for the
'pesky problem' of tradition, "right-hand chain" and "left-hand
chain" could handle all circumstances. And I opined that, just
perhaps, we might even consider changing the traditional names
of the figures this way to accommodate any other situations that
might (and probably would) arise in the future. Gene took the
side of the traditional skeptic in the discussion, incompletely
convinced of the idea's usefulness.
So - I'm here to pose the same question again: Might we,
perhaps, consider changing the names of these figures to
"right-hand chain" and "left-hand chain? Or at least, begin
using these names side-by-side with the traditional names?
Among other things, it accommodates something that never crossed
my mind until a few years ago: gender neutrality.
It would also make for a very interesting, entangling addition
to the old square, "The Route".
On 3/20/17 at 10:27 PM, trad-dance-callers(a)yahoogroups.com
(Michael Barraclough michael(a)michaelbarraclough.com
>On Monday, March 20, 2017 9:46:43 PM MST Dale wrote:
>>The move at the beginning of B2 is usually called a "men's
>>chain" -- at least here in Saint Louis. It's not a common
>>move, but it's not unheard of.
>I deliberately didn't call it a "men's chain", which it of
>course is :) because I see that term used ambiguously as to
>whether the chainee starts on the left or on the right of the
>chainer; which hands the chainees take to start the chain; and
>also who backs up in the courtesy turn.
I first discussed it about 30 years ago with Gene Hubert -