• Posts
  • RSS
  • ◂◂RSS
  • Contact

  • Simple Satisfying Dances

    January 19th, 2013
    calling, contra  [html]
    Some events will draw both people who have danced before and want "real" contras, and people who are new and just want to have fun. These are very difficult to call for, because of the mixed expectations. What do you do?

    One approach is to set expectations ahead of time. I've talked to organizers and experienced dancers [1] about how it would be much better if the new people come away thinking "that was great; I want to do it again some time" and not "contra dance is for people other than me". This can help a lot, but I've not found it practical to do it from the mic during dances.

    The standard advice is "call easier dances". You think that dance was easy, but it took two walkthroughs and it fell apart in places? Not easy enough. Get easier. Less teaching, more dancing to the music and having fun. So let's say you take this advice and call Haste to the Wedding:

    A1 (8) Circle Left
    (8) Circle Right
    A2 (8) Star Right
    (8) Star Left
    B1 (8) Partner dosido
    (2) Clap twice
    (6) Partner swing
    B2 (8) Neighbor dosido
    (2) Clap twice
    (6) Pass through
    This dance looks like it has a lot of pieces, but it's simple with lots of spare time and even totally new dancers tend to do well with it. It's about the easiest "duple minor" [2] dance I've seen. But if you call this, and especially if you call lots of dances like it, the experienced dancers won't have so much fun. [3] They want longer swings with more people, more balances, no clapping, and that whole "washing machine" A1 and A2 feels like it's just using up time.

    Let's say instead you call Larry Jennings' Thursday Night Special #1:

    A1 (16) Neighbor balance and swing, end facing down in a line of four
    A2 (16) Down the hall, turn as couples, come back, bend the line
    B1 (6) Circle left 3/4
    (10) Swing partner
    B2 (8) Ladies chain
    (8) Long Lines
    This lower limit of "real contra", the dances that are as easy as possible while still being satisfying to experienced dancers, is a place I want to be able to draw heavily from when calling for mixed crowds. So what else is there like this? I have The Baby Rose, La Bastringue, Broken Sixpence, The Nice Combination [4], and Heartbeat Contra. What are other dances like this?


    [1] And, several years ago, been talked to as an experienced dancer.

    [2] In hands fours, instead of whole-set (the Virginia Reel), triple minor (Monymusk), or another formation.

    [3] Generalizing, yes. But there are a lot of contra dancers who think about it like this.

    [4] Which is nearly identical to Thursday Night Special #1.

    Comment via: google plus, facebook

    Recent posts on blogs I like:

    Best Practices Civil Service

    I propose that transportation agencies hire people whose job is to keep abreast of global developments in the field and report on best practices. Which agencies should do it? Ideally, all urban ones. Very small ones should piggyback on large ones, or part…

    via Pedestrian Observations June 14, 2021

    Collections: The Queen’s Latin or Who Were the Romans? Part I: Beginnings and Legends

    Who were the Romans? How did they understand themselves as a people and ‘Roman’ as an identity? And what were the implications of that understanding – and perhaps more importantly the underlying reality – for Roman society and the success of the Roman Emp…

    via A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry June 11, 2021

    It's ok to feed stray cats

    Before we had kids, Jeff and I fostered a couple of cats. One had feline AIDS and was very skinny. Despite our frugal grocery budget of the time, I put olive oil on her food, determined to get her healthier. I knew that stray cats were not a top global pr…

    via Giving Gladly May 15, 2021

    more     (via openring)


  • Posts
  • RSS
  • ◂◂RSS
  • Contact