Equal Corners

July 22nd, 2013
contra, ideas
The 'contra corners' figure is no longer called very often at contra dances, and I think the biggest reason for this change is that it isn't equal-turn. In the 1980s contra dance moved from mostly having the 1s do everything while the 2s assisted to having only a minimal distinction between 1s and 2s. This "equal-turn revolution" made for much more interesting dances, but contra corners wasn't ble to change with the times. But could we fix that?

In contra corners the 1s turn their partner by the right, their 1st corner by the left, their partner by the right, and then their 2nd corner by the left. Generally they wrap this up with a balance and swing in the center. This is a little dull for the 2s, because they're to stand there, turn someone by the left, stand there, turn someone by the left, and then stand there while the 1s swing. What if we have the 2s turn contra corners at the same time as the 1s? The beginning of this would look something like:

equal turn contra corners animation

While the 1s are turning their partner by the right in the center of the set, the 2s are turning their shadow by the right between the sets. While the animated diagram above shows this in proper formation, it might make more sense to do it improper so that when you turn someone by the left they're the opposite role.

How could we put this into a dance? One thing that would be helpful would be a figure that helps knit the sets together, because this is basically a grid contra. A down the hall 4 x N in line would do it, as would something in short waves joined across the hall.

If there were a balance and swing following the contra corners, which would be nice, then 2s are swinging their shadow. You could deal with that by having people line up strangely so that instead of shadows you're partners, but that would add confusion. It also would mean that the people along the edges of the hall would be very far from their partners.

All this in mind, here's a dance that might be a good fit. I wouldn't call it somewhere without trying it out one some guinea pigs first, though:

Equal Corners (Duple Improper, starts in a line of 4 facing down, 1s in the middle.)

A1 (16) Down the hall, turn alone, come on back.
(Take hands with other lines to match evenly.)
A1 (8) Long lines, 2s roll away 1s
(8) Long lines, 1s roll away 2s
B1 (16) 1s face each other, 2s face away (facing their shadows),
all turn contra corners.
B2 (16) Balance and swing this one, end facing down the hall,
2s are below their new 1s.
This diagrams as:
   initial          - l g -

   turn alone       - l g -

   bend the line      - -
                      l g

   long lines         - -
                      l g

   2s roll 1s away    l g
                      - -

   1s roll 2s away    - -
                      l g

   1s and 2s both     - -
   contra corners     l g

   balance and swing  - -
   end facing down    l g
(This mostly shows how limited diagraming dances is: the contra corners is the bit I'm least sure of, and this kind of diagram doesn't help.)

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