Feb. 18th, 2013

jack_calls_dances: (mountains)

It's not often that I get the treat of dancing more than half of an evening of dances that I am also calling, but I got to do that tonight at the Laurel, dancing some of the dances with old friends and some of them with those newly addicted to contra dancing. I was a little worried when the dance got started and we only had 3 hands four worth of dancers, but by the middle of the evening we had two good lines of dancers, with about 5-6 brand new dancers, and varied levels of experience among the rest. After the first dance, Donna came up to me to tell me that 5-6 brand new dancers had just walked in (at that point, doubling our numbers) so I bailed on the contra I was going to do and switched to a nice easy mixer, proceeded by the 5 minute version of the "how to give weight and swing" tutorial. That got everyone dancing and swinging lots of different people.

Somewhere around MAD About Dancing, I switched from the handheld to the headset microphone and started jumping in to the dance too -- both to get a better feel for how folks were doing and because we generally had just 1-2 folks sitting out and I wanted to keep everyone dancing if they wanted to be -- besides, it was great to be able to dance as well as call, and with just two lines, I could still pretty easily keep an eye on the hall while I danced.

Of the dances that we did, all but BiCoastal Contra and Run Rooster Run II were ones that I have called many times before. Both of these, however, were new to me. BiCoastal Contra is a nice, simple Star Promenade dance. It ends with a Long Lines Forward and Back and then a Ladies Chain to progress. Calling from the floor without a card in front of me, I walked it through reversing the last two moves. Since I was dancing it, I could feel the connection to both your old and new neighbors that ending with the Long Lines gave, so I kept the moves swapped, which I think made the progression much easier for the newer dancers. I have never been all that happy with Ladies Chain into New Neighbor Balance and Swing progressions -- they work, but they always seem awkward (though not quite as much so as a Star Promenade & Butterfly Whirl into a New N Balance and Swing) and both can be particularly disorienting for the ladies. Having the long lines at the end, though, made the transition almost seamless, since you already have a hand with your new neighbor to pull into the balance.

I was even happier with Run Rooster Run II, though. An unusual progression and flow, but still really intuitive for even new dancers. Many of the ladies had a lot of fun with "making the gent come to you" (in the progression, which involved going and swinging the lady on the left diagonal - see below).

Run Rooster Run II - Jim Hemphill
Becket

A1 On L Diag, New gents pass by R Sh
New N Swing
A2 Straight across Ladies chain
LHS 1x
B1 P B&S
B2 R&L Thru
LL F&B





The band for the night -- Lost Marbles -- was not one that I had worked with before. It was, however, that treat for callers: an old time band that actually tries -- and succeeds -- at matching dances to tunes when the dance needs particular phrasing. In particular, for the balancier dances and for La Bastrangue, I asked for tunes with really strong phrases and/or a slightly choppier sound, and they delivered with tunes that fit wonderfully.

Overall, some of the most fun I've had calling in a long time (actually since I called -- and danced -- at the Brattleboro, VT contra dance back in the fall). Calling for, and dancing with, a wonderful community of dancers (new and experienced, young and old) is always a great experience. This is the dance community I was dancing with when I first started calling, and it was wonderful to get a chance to come back and call for them now.

Program:

Frederick Contra - Tom Hinds

La Bastrangue (mixer)
Cranky Ingenuity - Bill Olson
MAD About Dancing - Robert Cromartie
Butter - Gene Hubert
Salmonella Evening - Steve Zakon Anderson & Louie Cromartie
BiCoastal Contra - Pete Campbell
United We Dance - Bob Isaacs
---
Flaherty Will Get You Everywhere - Bob Isaacs
Run Rooster Run II - Jim Hemphill
Lark in the Oven - Robert Cromartie
The Nice Combination - Gene Hubert

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