Category Archives: Dance

A Long Courtship – Becket – Don Veino 20181209

Type: Contra Dance, Becket Left/CW
Status: Proven

This dance came out of a discussion Will Mentor and I had about writing a dance which built up and defied expectations regarding when you’d get together with your partner. It was briefly titled “Finally!” during testing. Have received really positive dancer feedback on this (it’s pretty cool when dancers seek you out at the end of the evening to praise/discuss a particular dance – you know it brought them joy. 🙂 ).

A1
Ladies Chain, Mad Robin CCW (Ladies front first) &
Gents Slide Left *WHILE* Ladies Cross Set, loop to Right
[i.e.: Ladies cross (Left past current NBR Lady, Right by next) & follow your Partner into…]

A2
(w/Next NBRs) Circle Left 3/4x, Neighbor Swing

B1
Full Hey (Gents Pass Left to start) BUT LADIES BOUNCE BACK 2nd time

B2
Partner Gypsy & Swing

End effects: Wait out crossed over on left to slide into A2 circle.
Tune suggestions:
Video:
See also:
First called by me at Concord Scout House Monday Contras Series on 1/28/19.

Dreaming of Dolphins – DI – Don Veino 20190123

Type: Longways, Duple Improper
Status: Proven

The title pretty much says it all. I was in a period where I was thinking about Dolphin Heys repeatedly, generating gobs of DH dances. Between this Duple Improper dance and two other 4-Face-4 compositions, From Here to Dolphinity and To Dolphinity and Beyond, I feel like I’ve got to where I wanted and the urge should finally be out of my system.

I’m pretty pleased with this – it incorporates some feel of the traditional dance Devil’s Dream plus the Down The Hall/Turn As Couple and Up The Hall/Cross Trail idea I found in The Campbells are Coming. Feedback from the first trial was extremely positive. I hope to get a chance to dance it someday! 😉

I think of this as a contra dance but it’s sort of a crossover contra/ECD composition… so I’ve labeled it as simply a longways duple improper here.

As this is an uneven dance, I recommend multiple shorter lines to give everyone a chance at playing dolphin. I start the walk through at A2 and finish with the A1 then have dancer couples swap places to retake hands four for a second quick walk through from A2 with the twos active. Reset and start at A1.

A1
Neighbor Balance & Swing

A2
LLF&B, 1s Swing
[face NEW 2s below] [NOTE this NBR!]
#progression

B1
Dolphin Hey, Centers/1s as couple passing solo LDY/RVN 2 by LEFT
[end with Centers facing down, Outsides facing UP]

B2
1s in Center DTH, Turn as CPL /*WHILE*/ 2s Outside UTH, Turn Alone
As Return, 1s Cross Trail to “Hey” NBR &…

Contra Variations (included only for completeness – I strongly prefer the above): Twos can stay put in B2 to anchor the set. Everyone could turn alone in B2 and omit the Ones Cross Trail into the A1 Balance (or Gypsy) & Swing.

From an ECD standpoint: A1 would likely be better as Gypsy & actives Two Hand Turn. The remainder would involve the ECD equivalents of the contra terms.

End effects: Be aware of the change in couple roles at the ends.
Tune suggestions: Of course Tom Kruskal’s – the “international standard” tune for Dolphin Hey dances. 😉 Other suitably regal yet driving tunes.
Video: First trial at Concord Scout House Monday Contras Series on 1/28/19.
See also: My other related dances, including So Long And Thanks For All The Fish, Fun With Flipper, From Here to Dolphinity and To Dolphinity and Beyond.
First called by me at Concord Scout House Monday Contras Series on 1/28/19.

Becky’s Boulder – DI – Don Veino 20180522

Type: Contra Dance, Duple Improper
Status: DRAFT

One of several related dances composed this date which were inspired by the new Becky Tracy tune Black Rock, off the Eloise & Co. album with Rachel Bell. Yeah, I love the tune. 😉

A1
Wave/4 across Balance Right & Left, Slide/Twirl Right
Wave/4 across Balance Left & Right, Slide/Twirl Left

A2
Neighbor Gypsy & Swing

B1
Give & Take to Gents, Partner Swing

B2
Pass the Ocean to Wave/4 across, Balance Fwd/Back
Gents Orbit 1/2x CW *WHILE* Ladies Allemande Left 1x and all step forward
[to new Wave/4]

End effects: none
Tune suggestions: Bouncy and driving – composed to match Becky Tracy’s tune Black Rock, others include Circular Reel (Daniel Boucher), Epic Reel (Keith Murphy), etc.
Video:
See also: Rockslide, You Caught My Eye
First called by PERSON at VENUE on DATE.

Rockslide – DI – Don Veino 20180522

Type: Contra Dance, Duple Improper
Status: Proven

One of several related dances composed this date which were inspired by the new Becky Tracy tune Black Rock, off the Eloise & Co. album with Rachel Bell. Yeah, I love the tune. 😉

I was lucky to have the privilege of dancing this one to Steve Zakon-Anderson’s calling with Becky and Keith (Murphy) playing their tunes – IIRC, they started with Keith’s Epic Reel and when they switched to Black Rock the energy in the room zoomed from a 10 up to 12!

A1
Wave/4 across Balance Right & Left, Slide/Twirl Right
Wave/4 across Balance Left & Right, Slide/Twirl Left

A2
Neighbor Balance & Swing

B1
Gents (low) LH Balance & Pull By, Partner Swing

B2
Ring/4 Balance, Petronella Slide/Twirl Right
Ring/4 Balance, California Twirl and form new wave/4
[CA Twirl and Gents shift to the ends to step into wave/4 with new Ns]

End effects: none
Tune suggestions: Bouncy and driving – composed to match Becky Tracy’s tune Black Rock, others include Circular Reel (Daniel Boucher), Epic Reel (Keith Murphy), etc.
Video: Portland (ME) In-Town Contra Dance (PICD) series 8/30/18
See also: You Caught My Eye, Becky’s Boulder
First called by Steve Zakon-Anderson at the 2018 CDSS Ogontz Family Camp.

You Caught My Eye – DI – Don Veino 20180522

Type: Contra Dance, Duple Improper
Status: Proven

For Sage, who caught my eye. ♥ One of several related dances composed this date which were inspired by the new Becky Tracy tune Black Rock, off the Eloise & Co. album with Rachel Bell. Yeah, I love the tune. 😉

A1
Wave/4 across (N by RH) Balance Right & Left/Back, walk Forward on Right Diagonal
New Wave/4 across (G by RH, N by LH) Balance Left & Right, Slide/Twirl Left

A2
Neighbor Gypsy & Swing

B1
Give & Take to Gents, Partner Swing

B2
Pass the Ocean to Wave/4 across, Balance Fwd/Back
Partner Allemande Right 1/2x, Gents center Left 1/2x, Neighbor Right 1/2x
[Ladies take LH to end in Wave/4 w/same Ns]

End effects: none
Tune suggestions: Bouncy and driving – composed to match Becky Tracy’s tune Black Rock, others include Circular Reel (Daniel Boucher), Epic Reel (Keith Murphy), etc.
Video: Concord Scout House Monday Contras series 10/15/18
See also: Rockslide, Becky’s Boulder
First called by me at Concord Scout House Monday Contras series on October 15, 2018.

Three Out Of Four Ain’t Bad – 4 Face 4 – Don Veino 20180829

Type: Contra Dance, 4 Facing 4
Status: Proven

Another of my “extra swings” dances – you get to swing with 3 out of the 4 opposite role dancers in your set without resorting to tricks like ending one swing mid-phrase to swing the next. I use dances like this to make up with the “every dance must have two swings” crowd when I wish to call an interesting but swing-light dance in a program. The timing of this easy one is right on and satisfying but not so tight that slower dancers can’t make it.

A1
Lines/4 Forward & Back, Corner Swing

A2
Gents Star Left 1/2x, Neighbor Swing (the one that’s not your corner)

B1
Ring/8 Balance, Gents Roll Neighbor Lady (you Swung)
Ring/8 Balance, Ladies Star Right ~1/2x (to P)

B2
Partner Balance (or Gypsy) & Swing, face next

End effects: none
Tune suggestions: Bouncy French Canadian, driving reels (e.g.: Silver Spear)
Video: Monday Contras 10/15/2018
See also: Bonus Round/Repeatronella
First called by me with the B2 Balance at the Monday Contras series, Concord Scout House on 10/15/2018

Pumpkin Spice Madness – DI – Don Veino 20181006

Type: Contra Dance, Duple Improper
Status: Proven

Keep calm.
Pumpkin Spice is everywhere!

We’re in that season again – where everything gets offered in some form of pumpkin spiced variant. I find most such things (but for pancakes or other baked goods) totally foul but the other residents of our household seem to relish them. So I figure I just have to embrace the amusement of the Pumpkin Spice Madness season and trust it’ll come to an end soon! At least I got a decent dance theme/title out of it. 🙂

A1
Ring/4 Balance, Gents Swap (passing left – in essence, Partner Lady rolls the Gent while staying put)
Ring/4 Balance, Ladies Swap (passing right – in essence, Neighbor Gent rolls the Lady while staying put)
[Alt: Ring/4 Balance & Petronella Slide/Twirl 1 place, repeat]

A2
Neighbor Balance & Swing

B1
Mad Robin CW (Gents in front first) 1x, Gents Cross (to P)
Partner Swing

B2
Circle Left 3/4x, Pass Through (up/down)
Next Neighbor Dosido into Ring/4

End effects: none
Tune suggestions: Bouncy French Canadian, Jigs
Video: Guiding Star Grange 10/27/2018, Laura Johannes at Scout House Monday Contras (Petronella var.) 1/7/2019
See also:
First called by me at Monday Contras series, Concord Scout House on 10/8/2018

Fun With Flipper – Triplet – Don Veino 20181006

Type: Proper Triplet
Status: Proven

Flipper approval graphic
Shouldn’t this be a Dolphin of Approval?

Yep, I’ve been on a real Dolphin Hey compositions run – which led me to research the history of that move back toward its origin. It appears the Dolphin Hey first appeared in the modern era Scottish Country Dance Pelorus Jack out of New Zealand, named after a famous dolphin there. I saw the opportunity for this triplet to use the Dolphin Hey in essentially the same way as the original Scottish dance but with differences in the formation, set up for the move and the exit. While the Scottish dance is done with skipping steps to a particular jig, this triplet is intended to be danced with a typical contra/ECD walking step.

A1
(4,4) Lines/3 Forward and Back
(4) Ones Cross and Go Below 1 Couple (as Twos shift up)
(4) Ones Allemande Right ~3/4x (to Gent 1 face Lady 2, Lady 1 falls in behind Partner)

A2
(8) Ones Pass Lady 2 Right for a Half Dolphin Hey* w/Second Diagonals and then to their right
(half = Second Diagonals swapped, Ones back in center)
(8) Ones Pass Gent 2 Right for a Half Dolphin Hey w/First Diagonals and to their right
(First Diagonals swapped)

B1
Ones Pass Lady 2 Right for a Half Dolphin Hey w/Second Diagonals and to their right
(Second Diagonals swapped back)
Ones Pass Gent 2 Right for a Half Dolphin Hey w/First Diagonals and end below the Threes, facing Partner
(First Diagonals swapped back, all but Ones are Proper, couples are in 2-3-1 order)

B2
All Partner Balance and Swing
[end Proper (as if facing up, 2-3-1 order) and face Partner across]

*Dolphin Hey: a hey for four traveling the path of a hey for three. One “couple” (in this dance, the Ones) travel as a unit while the other dancers travel solo. The couple stays in their respective orientation relative to the hall so they alternate the lead position as they travel the heys together, sweeping wide at the corners to trade the lead. In this dance that means Gent 1 leads up & out to the right, then Lady 1 leads the pass down & across the set, Gent 2 leads down & right and it ends with Lady 1 leading up and across the set toward the bottom. The pattern in this dance for the ones looks a lot like a Mac Command Key symbol

End effects: N/A
Tune suggestions: Energetic with strong 8 beat hinting and a nautical feel – e.g.: Quindaro Hornpipe, Fisher’s Hornpipe, etc.
Video: Pelorus Jack Scottish Country Dance: History, Easy to Follow
See also: Pelorus Jack Scottish Country Dance, my Dolphin Series dances
First called by me at Concord Scout House Monday Contras series on 10/8/2018.

Feeling Gravity’s Pull – DI – Don Veino 20180710

Type: Contra Dance, Duple Improper
Status: Proven

I wanted something smooth and stately which swapped around the idea of who typically does certain sorts of moves (e.g.: in this dance, it’s the Ladies who cast the Gents – not the other way around) plus avoided overused elements like allemandes and circles to keep things unique. This one came along pretty easily, once I thought of deconstructing a normal Figure 8 so only one party would walk that path – which is what the Gents do in the A2 here.

Dancers report liking this very much and the Ladies “bounce-back” in the A2 was a dancer-invented alternative.

During development, this was also known as “The Eyes Have It” because of all the eye play possibilities, but I discovered that title was already taken. Yes, I’m a big fan of very early R.E.M. music.

A1
Neighbor Gypsy, Swing

A2
Gents Swap Places (passing left) and face out
Gents Loop Left *WHILE* Ladies Slide Left+ (so each move into Partner’s starting place)
(inside hands) Ladies Gate the Gents 1x
[+Alternative for the Ladies here: Walk forward on the slight left diagonal to bounce back into the left hand position next to Partner Gent]

B1
Pass Through straight across, Partner Swing

B2
Gents pass Left for a Full Hey (EXCEPT Ladies Bounce Back the FIRST time)

End effects: none
Tune suggestions: Smooth/romantic/driving
Video: First trial at Concord Scout House Monday Contras series
See also:
First called by me at Concord Scout House Monday Contras series on 9/17/18.

Mad For Ogontz – DI – Don Veino 20180808

Type: Contra Dance, Duple Improper
Status: Proven

At CDSS Ogontz Family Camp 2018 Steve Zakon-Anderson wanted to teach Mad Robin to the 11s & 12s group but didn’t have a suitable dance. We couldn’t find one in my deck either, so I wrote this one. This one I wrote for MR newbies but an experienced dancer has since told me it is their “new favorite all-time dance” because of the “great smooth flow” :-).

Encourage dancers to really relax into the B1 & B2 timing to avoid arriving early for the A1 (you may need to stretch out the lines to allow for this). I’ve noticed dancers sliding past and curling back to their next Neighbor to smooth that out, should it happen (rather than stopping dead and then starting the Gypsy).

A1
Neighbor Gypsy, Swing

A2
Gents Allemande Left 1+1/2x, Partner Swing

B1
(8,8) Long Lines Forward & Back, Half Hey (Ladies Right start)

B2
(8,8) Ladies Chain, Mad Robin CCW (Ladies thru center first) to next

End effects: none
Tune suggestions: flowy with strong 8 beat hinting, particularly in the Bs
Video: Top Hill Music dance at the Greenfield, MA Grange
See also: Rainbows Over Ogontz, Fairly Nicked From Nick
First called by Steve Zakon-Anderson at CDSS Ogontz Family Camp on ~8/9/2018.

Bonus Round/Repeatronella (in Dublin) – DI – Don Veino 20180726

Type: Contra Dance, Duple Improper
Status: Proven

This is a set of dances approaching the same two-Neighbor-Swing theme in different variations. Dancers seem to really like these and they can scale in difficulty from working with more beginner dancers or as a “dance trance” later program slot with experienced folk, through to some uniqueness with the “in Dublin” variations.

I sometimes use the base versions of these as a way to compensate after calling a beginner friendly no-Neighbor-Swing dance like Delphiniums and Daisies for a mixed capability crowd. One can also play with calling the variations in different combinations in a single program slot.

BONUS ROUND

A1
LLFB, (New) N Swing

A2
Line/4 Down the Hall, turn as couple,
Line/4 Up the Hall, bend the line
[“in Dublin” variation:
Line/4 Down the Hall as in Dublin Bay*,
Line/4 Up the Hall as in Dublin Bay, bend the line]

B1
Circle Left 3/4x, Partner Swing

B2
Circle Left 3/4x, Neighbor Bonus Swing

REPEATRONELLA

A1
LLFB, (New) N Swing

A2
Line/4 Down the Hall, turn as couple,
Line/4 Up the Hall, bend the line
[“in Dublin” variation:
Line/4 Down the Hall as in Dublin Bay,
Line/4 Up the Hall as in Dublin Bay, bend the line]

B1
Ring/4 Bal, Petronella to Partner Swing

B2
Ring/4 Bal, Petronella to Neighbor Repeat Swing

*Down|Up the Hall as in Dublin Bay: Line/4 takes 4 steps down, dancers turn single (in this dance, toward Neighbor as they do) to face up to re-form the line and continues down the hall 4 steps. Line/4 takes 4 steps up, turns single to face down, and continues up the hall.
Should be used sparingly – some dancers have a strong aversion to backing up blind.

End effects: none
Tune suggestions: high energy tunes – Repeatronella and “in Dublin” variations require strong 4 beat chunks – or smooth/flowing for Bonus Round, as a breather between higher energy dances.
Video: Repeatronella variation at Concord Scout House Monday Contras series, Bonus Round variation at Portland, ME PICD
See also:
First called by me at several places on several dates starting with Bonus Round in Dublin at Mystic, CT Pie Dance on 7/28/18 with Gotham Carnival Trio.

Fairly Nicked From Nick – Becket – Don Veino and Nick Howe 20180815

Type: Contra Dance, Becket
Status: Proven

In a conversation with Nick Howe following Ogontz Family Week 2018, we reviewed a draft of his 2017 “The Cuckoo and The Robin.” Nick’s dance features a double Mad Robin sequence (CCW into CW) to a Circle Left to Swing. I liked his idea for the transitions and it inspired me to take a shot at flipping the Mad Robin rotation and grafting on other parts to arrive at this co-author dance nicking Nick’s core idea.

This dance has been called several times to great dancer feedback. While you probably want to stress with dancers to take big graceful 8-beat Mad Robins in the B1, the subsequent circle acts as a timing shock absorber should everyone rush them. Energetic music seems to drive dancers to really haul on that bit while flowing/romantic encourages them taking up the time.

A1
Slice Left, Ladies Allemande Right 1+1/2x

A2
Neighbor Balance & Swing

B1
(Gents thru Middle First) Mad Robin CW around THIS Neighbor,
(Gents thru Middle First) Mad Robin CCW around NEXT Neighbor

B2
(w/orig. Ns) Circle Left 3/4x, Partner Swing

End effects: If you’re in the dance and nobody’s at the end for the second Mad Robin, either Mad Robin around a ghost or SeeSaw your Partner across and back to your side to continue with the Circle. If you’re out, cross over and come in temporarily for the second Mad Robin then wait on the left diagonal for the slice.
Tune suggestions:
Video: Thursday Contras at the Concord Scout House, Inc., Top Hill Music dance at the Greenfield, MA Grange.
See also: Mad for Ogontz
First called by me at the NEFFA Thursday Contras dance at the Concord Scout House on 9/20/2018.

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish – 4 Face 4 – Don Veino 20180528

Type: Contra Dance, 4 Facing 4 – single progression, alternating sides
Status: Proven

Don't Panic!
Don’t Panic!

I’ve become slightly obsessed with Dolphin Hey dances. In this case I was striving for one that automatically alternates who gets to act as the traveling pair, so there’s no need to have differing choreography in alternating cycles. A 4-Face-4 achieves this – but note the resulting hey is unusual in that it’s Trail Buddies (not Partners) that are traveling as a pair together.

The key teaching point (over how to do the Hey) appears to be stressing who is doing the roll-away (I’ve found saying “the most recent person you swung” is better than “original corner”).

You may get a chuckle out of Hitchhiker’s Guide fans when you tell dancers the title. 🙂

A1
Long Lines Forward & Back, Corner Swing
[Those swinging on the outsides of the set separate from their corner (take a step apart) after the swing and face across, so there are clear columns of 4 across the set. Trail Buddies who swung (in the center) face to their original left toward the outside of the set. Note partners are in separate columns/4.]

A2
Center Trail Buddy pair starts a Dolphin Hey* across the set (passing the solo Lady by the left with the TB Gent in the lead).
[after the hey, all end up back in their swing ending positions]

B1
Ring/8 Balance, Gents Roll Away their Original Corner (one you swung, R->L) and face Partner
Pass Partner by Right to Weave the Ring/8 half way
[back to Partner, in progressed location]

B2
Partner Balance & Swing (end facing direction of progression)

*Dolphin Hey: Borrowed from English Country Dancing, this is a hey for four traveling the path of a full hey for three. One “couple” (in this dance, the designated Trail Buddy pair) travels as a unit while the other dancers travel solo. The pair stay in their respective orientation relative to the sides of the hall so that they alternate the leading position as they travel the hey together. In this dance that means the Gents lead out to the left, then the Ladies lead the pass back across the set and the Gents lead the finishing partial pass back to the center.

End effects: none
Tune suggestions: Driving with strong 8-beat phrasing, or romantic with flowy A2 and well hinted 8 beats elsewhere. Not unsurprisingly, Tom Kruskal’s fits – it’s the tune for Christine Robb’s ECD, Sapphire Sea, which got me interested in the Dolphin Hey to begin with.
Video:
See also: Sapphire Sea; my other Dolphin Hey dances, not yet posted
First called by me at the NEFFA Thursday Contras dance at the Concord Scout House on 9/20/2018.

Hey, Ack is Back! – DI – Don Veino 20180711

Type: Contra Dance, Duple Improper
Status: DRAFT

Named in celebration of Lynn Ackerson having completed her Veterinary Tech program and, hopefully, her return to the contra dance community. Lynn’s an all around good egg and was very welcoming and helpful to me as I started calling contras. Until deep in her school program, she was the person that organized and put together the contra medleys for the first few times I called the New England Folk Festival. Welcome back, Lynn!

A1
Neighbor Balance & Swing

A2
Down and Up the Hall as in Dublin Bay, bend the line
[Dublin Bay = 4 steps facing down, turn alone, continue down backing up 4 steps. Come back up in similar style.]

B1
Ring/4 Balance, Petronella Slide/Twirl 1 place, Partner Swing on side

B2
Gents LH Open Chain (G Pull By Left, N Allemande Right 3/4x) [or actual Gent’s Chain w/Courtesy Turn]
Half Hey (Gents Pass Left) to next

End effects:
Tune suggestions: Bouncy/driving high energy
Video:
See also: Butty Dance
First called by PERSON at VENUE on DATE

(Home Again, Home Again) Jiggity Jig – DI – Don Veino 20180430

Type: Contra Dance, Duple Improper
Status: Proven

This dance was a bonus spin-off while thinking through my dance The Right In Tension. It was intended to be useful as an easy frame for the Right Hand High, Left Hand Low move suitable for community dances, etc.

The name here comes from my youth – I was the only one in the family with a car at one point and used to drive the extended family to the supermarket. As we’d turn the corner to approach my grandmother’s home I’d always hear her chime from the back seat “home again, home again, jiggity jig” as she’d dig the house keys out of her purse.

A1
Neighbor Balance & Swing (end facing down)

A2
Line/4 Down the Hall, G1 turns alone while G2 does RH High, LH Low w/Ladies to all face up (swapping the Ladies)
Line/4 Up the Hall, Pivot to face Partner

B1
Partner Balance & Swing

B2
Long Lines Forward & Back
Ladies Pull by Right, Neighbor Allemande Left 1/2x and step forward to next Neighbor

End effects:
Tune suggestions: strong marches, driving tunes – and, of course, jigs.
Video:
See also: The Right In Tension

First called by me at the Worcester Contra Dance in MA on 6/8/2018.

The Bubbles Incident – Becket – Don Veino 20180620

Not THE bubbles incident - but close to another!
Not THE bubbles incident – but close to another!
Type: Contra Dance, Becket Left/CW
Status: DRAFT

I was playing with new ways to do a Down-the-Hall dance – in particular, how to achieve the progression. I hit on the idea of a ring of dancers going down and then twirling to change facing direction into a new ring before coming back up… and realized this could work in a duple longways as well as a 4-face-4 setting – this is the longways dance.

The title here was inspired by an event with our daughter in her first grade class at school. They were doing bubble painting, where the kids blow bubbles into liquid tempera paint with glycerin and then use the bubbles to create a design on paper. However, our daughter got so carried away with the fun and laughing that she forgot you needed to blow out and ended up sucking the painty bubbles into her mouth – yuck! The rings/4 here reminded me of the bubbles in that infamous family incident.

While not yet tried out, I expect you’ll want to have the lines stretch down a bit to make room for rings/4 going down the hall… but not too far.

A1
Long Lines Forward & Back
Circle RIGHT 3/4x (to the 1s face up, 2s down)

A2
(~7) Ring/4 Down the Hall (2s are walking forward, 1s backward as the 2s steer)
(~2) Turn Alone (inwards, glance at partner as continue turning to face next couple)
(~7) New Ring/4 Up the Hall (2s are walking forward, 1s backward as 2s steer)

B1
Ring/4 Balance, Gent Roll Partner Away across
Neighbor Swing

B2
Ladies Allemande Right 1+1/2x (Alt.: Circle Left 3/4x), Partner Swing

End effects: Wait out Indecent (Gent on Right, Lady Left) to enter the A2 Ring. The rest is somewhat straightforward but just to be complete: twos pay attention to the line’s movement so as to be in place to form the new ring at the bottom (and scoot out of the way when ejected at the top). New ones wait out at the top for the twos to come up the hall to you.
Tune suggestions:
Video:
See also: the 4-Face-4 mentioned above and another slightly crazier DI dance (coming soon!)

First called by PERSON at VENUE on DATE

Totally Ridiculous Utterly Mad Proposition – DI – Don Veino 20160112

Type: Contra Dance, Duple Improper
Status: EXPERIMENTAL – NOT INTENDED TO EVER BE ACTUALLY DANCED!

On January 11, 2018 the Third Occasional Bad Contra Choreography Contest was announced by Gregory Frock. The goal of this contest was to write the worst (ostensibly intended to be danceable) contra dance. Unfortunately, the lure of the contest generated a major time suck for my brain when I wanted to focus elsewhere and I had to submit something so I could stop thinking about it. So I submitted an entry on January 12th, the next day:

Hi Greg,

As soon as I became aware of your contest it was pretty much sucking all my thought energy. So I thought I better put together something that sucked right away so I could stop the stinking thoughts from continuing to suck on my brain. So here’s my stinker…

Good luck – that’s quite an impressive crew of judges you’ve assembled!
Don

Submitting the entry did the trick and I was able to forget about it and return to more productive endeavors.

Judges for the contest included a lot of the contra choreography luminaries of our age: Kathy Anderson, Bob Isaacs, Rick Mohr, Chris Page, Cary Ravitz and Sue Rosen. It took a while but the contest winners (i.e.: the losing dances – a tie), written by Yoyo Zhou and Ethan Ableman, were announced in April at NEFFA 2018. After the ceremony I was pleasantly surprised to be notified I was a top (so really bottom) 5 runner-up, with the committee remarks including:

“you need dancers’ insurance to try that B2”
“5 awkward transitions […] and a too-short neighbor swing”
“[…] there’s a consistent string of bad transitions ranging from dubious to awful”
“Awkward transitions, timing issues, no flow”

All in all, I’m going to consider this a success. Maybe I’ll make a more comprehensive effort for the next contest, which I’m told we might expect in something like 11 years… enjoy! 😉

A1
Neighbor Allemande Right 1+1/2x
Ladies Chain (to P)

A2
Right Hand Star 1x
Shadow RH Balance and Box the Gnat, Pull By

B1
Gents Swing (in the center)**
Partner Swing

B2
Gents Allemande Left 1/2x, Pick Up Neighbor for a Star Promenade 1/2x, Butterfly Whirl
Neighbor Swing (and look to the next N…)

[**This bit probably worked against me – after I’d submitted my entry there was a clarification on the criteria re: having same role swings (which a prior contest had considered a qualification for badness) being not an effective property for this round. My intent with the Gent’s Swing was not to have the same role/gender interaction be the bad part but rather having two folks that were already pretty much headed CCW and away from each other somehow get into a CW Swing and then find their Partner mid-phrase to Swing them… but c’est la vie.]

End effects: N/A
Tune suggestions: Silence
Video:
See also: the contest web page and Facebook event

Never to be called by any PERSON at any VENUE on any DATE

The Oddball In Charge – Mixer for 5, 7 or ? Dancers – Don Veino 20171210, rev. 20180112

a.k.a. “The Magic Charm”

Type: Circle Mixer for odd number of dancers, Gender-free
Status: Proven

At smaller venue dances you may find yourself at the beginning or end of the evening below the comfortable number of dancers for a contra or square dance for an extended time. The Levi Jackson Rag or Triplets are nice but then you have the situation where you have 7 willing dancers or just 5 and there’s something up such that you as a caller can’t easily jump in to dance and call…

So I wanted to create another dance that would fit this situation and have some chance to work with beginning dancers – fitting the traditional tunes that smaller venue bands’ repertoires often contain. This is one attempt at such a thing.

Since writing this dance, I’ve not run into a situation where I could use it! I hadn’t wanted to share it until I had a chance to try it out with dancers but some local callers facing the same venues asked for the dance as word got around (we all dread the tiny crowd issue). It became a private joke because for a long time it held some weird form of protective charm power for our group – a caller would have 7 people and walk through this dance… and then a wave of dancers would show up such that they could swap to a conventional contra or square. We’d have an upcoming gig where we expected it would be used and then have to report back that we didn’t. And then one night Linda Leslie called to a crowd of 7 people at the start and 5 at the end of an evening – so they danced it twice as bookends with success.

Some people might object to the term “Oddball” – it’s not intended to be negative but rather as descriptive. I’d be sure to explain to dancers that we all sometimes feel like the Oddball in a situation, and this dance will give you several times to experience the power of that unique role. There can be a somewhat competitive aspect to the B parts – encourage folks to watch out for each other and be safe!

Starts with an even number of dancers in a ring with an extra dancer (“Oddball”) in the center. Minimum 5 or possibly up to 9 (or more?) dancers – works with any mix, i.e. “gender free.” If there’s any question of who does what, have dancers note the Oddball (the person in the center at the moment) is always in charge (so they select and raise their hand for the twirls, etc. – FWIW, some dancers have played this back as “the Oddball is always the Gent/Lark”).

A1
Ring Balance, Petronella Slide/Twirl Right
Ring Balance, Petronella Slide/Twirl Right

A2
Oddball picks any outside dancer to LH Balance & Swat the Flea to swap (center person lifts, outside twirls under)
New center/Oddball reaches out RH at angle to Balance and Box the Gnat (center lifts, outside twirls) to swap with the other adjacent outside dancer

B1
This New Oddball Circle Left 1x (with grace in 8 counts) with the dancers who did the twirls (anyone bracketed by this set of Oddballs if more than 5 dancers in set)
Oddball look away to Circle Right with the other remaining dancers (use up remaining 8 counts)

B2
Everyone find another dancer to Balance and Swing (Gender Free Swing in some form)
[end with the one dancer left over in the center and all the others form a ring to…]

End effects: N/A
Tune suggestions: Written for trad tune Petronella, other traditional tunes may work
Video:
See also:

First called (twice!) by Linda Leslie at the East Sandwich, MA Grange on January 20, 2018.

Force of Nature – DI or Becket – Don Veino 20180620

Type: Contra Dance, Duple Improper or Becket Right/CCW
Status: Proven

Shel Michaels made me write this… just kidding ;-). But he did suggest I write a dance to commemorate this event.

On 6/18/18 a microburst/tornado struck our neighborhood. Nobody was hurt but nature flexed its capricious muscle in snapping and tossing around many trees.

Duple Improper version:

A1
Neighbor Balance & Swing

A2
Gents LH Chain (to P) with Courtesy Fling* to Wave/4 across (G by LH & RH to P)
[Easier teach alternative: Gents LH Pull By across, Partner Allemande Right 1x]
Wave Balance, Gents Allemande Left 1x (back to P)

B1
Partner Dosido (or whatever) & Swing

B2
Ring Balance, Petronella Twirl/Slide Right
Ring Balance, Partner California Twirl to next

Becket Right/CCW Version: Begin at the B2 above

*Courtesy Fling: in this instance, Lady stops their motion in the Courtesy Turn ~half way to face up/down the set (away from progression) and the Gent continues pivoting around their connected right hands to face the opposite direction to take left hands in a wave across.

End effects: Cross over at ends
Tune suggestions: Jigs, tunes with 4 beat accents in the A2 & B2
Video: Thursday Contras series at the Concord Scout House, Inc.
See also:

First called by me at the Wolfeboro, NH G.A.L.A. contra dance with the Old Favorite band on 6/23/18.

Clap Happy – Gender Free Longways or Circle – Don Veino 20180115

Type: Longways or Circle Family/Ceilidh Dance – Gender Free
Status: Proven

Clap Happy being danced
Clap Happy dancers!
This dance always gets smiles with the right crowds. Very useful for those community dances where you want want to sense the crowd or provide some variety without the possibility of a crash and burn. Works well as a keeper with smaller kids paired to a bigger kid or parent. Can be used as a mixer with older kids or adults.

In larger crowds run this in multiple “longways for as many as will” sets with partners opposite.

In smaller venues as a circle dance, I get folks to take hands in a single circle with Partner, then have them adjust to have one person in each couple face me or put their back to me in the center so the couples form radial spokes for two concentric circles. Then I have them compare wingspans and move the bigger folks to face in on the outside circle and narrower wingspans to face out from the inner circle.

Starts facing Partner opposite:

A1
(8 @ 1 beat/move) Clap two hands over (own! 🙂 ) left leg, under left leg, over right leg, under right leg, in front at waist, behind back at waist, in front again and then two handed “high five” with Partner
(8) Repeat pattern
[Encourage adjustments for mobility issues as required – can clap high/low instead of over/under leg, etc.]

A2
(8) Partner Right Elbow turn 1x
(8) Partner Left Elbow turn 1x (so back at starting spot)

B1
(8,8) Facing Circles or Big Oval to your own personal RIGHT (opposite direction from Partner) and back left
[as a keeper, left is return to Partner – as mixer, go one person past Partner to next]

B2
(keep or new) Partner Balance & Swing (two-hand, whatever – end in place, facing in or out)

End effects: Never out
Tune suggestions: Bouncy 32 bar jigs, marches – bouncy A1 is key to the fun!
Video:
See also: Probably some traditional dances that are similar…
First called by me at Hancock UCC Barn Dance on 1/20/2018.

The Right In Tension (a.k.a. Synchro de Mayo) – Becket – Don Veino 20180430

Type: Contra Dance, Becket Left/CW
Status: Proven

I’ve written a series of dances playing with the residual tension from the last contact in a roll-away and this one I feel is my simplest solution to date for it feeding a hey (suitable for a mixed crowd). Some of my related dances are listed in See Also below.

I find it very helpful to demo the roll to hey transition for dancers and stress keeping the tension of the last contact to pull into the first pass right of the hey. Once dancers get this they’re pleasantly surprised that the move works smoothly and feels great.

The secondary name for the dance honors first calling it on Cinco de Mayo 2018 and my coming up with another substitute term for Gypsy – using “Synchronize” (Sync) for the move.

A1
Slide Left, Ladies Allemande Right 1+1/2x
Neighbor Swing (end facing down)

A2
Line/4 Down the Hall, G1 turns alone while G2 does RH High, LH Low to all face up (swapping the Ladies)
Line/4 Up the Hall, Gents Roll Partner Lady Away (w/half sashay) and KEEP last HOLD tension to face P across

B1
(pull into) Partner Pass Right Full Hey (P by R, L1 & G2 by L, Same Role by R, G1 & L2 R, etc.)

B2
Partner Synchronize (a.k.a. Gypsy) & Swing

End effects:
Tune suggestions: well-phrased, driving.
Video:
See also: Lobster Roll, Rolling & Strolling, Proof of Concept, Shaken Not Stirred, Stirred Not Shaken, … (yep, there’s a lot of them!)
First called by me at the Berlin Country Orchestra dance in Berlin, MA on 5/5/2018.

Two Hearts Beat As One – DI – Don Veino 20180203

Type: Contra Dance, Duple Improper
Status: Proven

For my wife Sage on our 10th Valentine’s Day. Written independently but likely strongly inspired by my recollection of Don Flaherty’s Heartbeat Contra – the A parts are the same and the B parts are a sort of inverse, with a unique twist via a Gent’s Balance and Pull By.

A1
Ring/4 Balance, Petronella Slide/Twirl
Ring Balance, Petronella Slide/Twirl (now on side with N)

A2
Neighbor Balance & Swing

B1
Gents LH Balance & Pull By
Partner Swing

B2
Circle Left 3/4x, Ring/4 Balance
2s Arch, 1s Duck through to new Ring/4

End effects:
Tune suggestions: Jigs work great
Video: Monday Contras, 5/7/2018
See also: Heartbeat Contra by Don Flaherty
First called by me at the Concord Scout House Monday Contras dance on 5/7/2018.

Filet Mignon – DI – Don Veino 20170918

Type: Contra Dance, Duple Improper
Status: Proven

The instant I heard Simon Riopel’s tune L’Air Mignonne played by Eric Boodman I knew I must write a dance to match. This dance plays with dancer expectations re: Rory O’Moore moves, so it may take a couple of cycles for them to settle down into the A1 and then folks start to really smile and enjoy the tune. The dance had a couple of names through drafting but the final decision was made when Julie Metcalf told me she always associated “filet mignon” in conjunction with the tune – the band lobbied hard for that title. 🙂

I originally featured a “funky” hey in the B2 (see below) – it fits the music perfectly and has a nice “snap” ending action via a catch right, half allemande with Neighbor to re-form the starting wave… but it requires a careful teach/demo and some dancers simply never get it. The primary version below is a simplification with a more conventional hey, which can end ~1 beat early – so encourage dancers to relax into the overall easy going pace to form the wave on the last beat. (Feel free to go with the Funky version if you have a suitable crowd.)

Starts in Wave/4 across, Neighbor by Right and Ladies Left hands in center.

A1
Rory Wave Balance Right & Left, Twirl/Slide Right, Catch Left hand
Neighbor Allemande Left 1+1/4 to long waves (Gents face out)
[Progression]

A2
Wave Balance Fwd/Back, Box Circulate (G loop right, L cross set)
Partner Swing

B1
Circle Left 3/4, (the new) Neighbor Swing

B2
Full (actually, 15/16) Hey, Gents Pass LEFT to start – end with Ladies catch left, RH to N
OR
[“Funky Hey” (two rights don’t make it wrong) version B2: Ladies pass TWO RIGHTS (Lady, Partner) to start a Full Hey (then Gents pass Left in center, N by R, etc.) ending by catching Right with N for an Allemande Right 1/2x to reform the Wave across. The double pass at the start saves ~2 beats which then get tagged on for the ending N Allemande Right.]

End effects:
Tune suggestions: Simon Riopel’s tune L’Air Mignonne, obviously. 🙂
Video: “Funky Hey” Version at Monday Contras 5/7/2018
See also:
First called by me at Concord Scout House Monday Contras dance

¡Que Linda! – DI – Don Veino 20180211

Type: Contra Dance, Duple Improper
Status: Proven, Public

Linda Leslie photo
Linda Leslie

Here’s a contra in honor of Linda Leslie. I wanted to give Linda a dance more likely to be regularly called than my prior dance Linda’s Gifts (which is a waltz-time Contra or English Country Dance (ECD)).

Linda and I were in a correspondence around the Mad Robin to a wave idea I’d first used in my dance Super Robin. She’d written a couple of sequences (which are not published on her site but were called in her final few gigs, with lovely dedications) featuring the idea with different solutions around it. This was to be my choreographic response – using a CCW rotation instead of the Gents first/CW MR in those dances. Unfortunately, she never got to see this dance.

May it bring dancers joy – as did she. Linda spoke fluent Spanish and, I believe, would have appreciated the word play of the title.

A1
Neighbor Balance & Swing

A2
Long Lines Forward & Back
Mad Robin CCW 1+1/4x (Ladies through center 1st, to Wave/4 across)
[N by LH, Ladies RH center]

B1
Balance Wave, Neighbor Allemande Left 1/2x,
Gents Pass Right to cross, Partner Swing

B2
Circle Left 3/4x, Ring Balance & CA Twirl

End effects:
Tune suggestions: Bouncy & driving – we used The Kitchen Girl & Stampin’ and Champin’ (Glen Loper) for NEFFA 2018 with the YFO. Reel Circulaire (by Daniel Boucher) is another good pairing.
Video: Scout House Monday Contras 20180507
See also: My Super Robin and Linda’s dances Creativity and Felicidades.

First called by me in final form at the FSGW Sunday dance at Glen Echo’s Spanish Ballroom with the Dead Sea Squirrels on 4/15/2018 and dedicated to Linda at the New England Folk Festival in a session with the Youth Festival Orchestra on 4/21/18. Earlier drafts were shared with the Portland Intown Contra Dance (PICD) and Scout House Monday Contras communities.

Swinging Chainsaws – DI – Don Veino 20171006

Type: Contra Dance, Duple Improper
Status: DRAFT (but proven via transitive property…)

This dance is one of a set that grew out of my work on (Like) Juggling Chainsaws. There is a mirror role and move dance to this one, Dosi Dude, which could be paired with this for an alternating dance.

The dance is pleasantly simple yet slightly different due to the Dosido to face away transition. The Chain/CT and pull into the See Saw on the side should work well (the mirror move in Dosi Dude does). Encourage the dancers to use the full measure of each phrase of the music for the moves – the dance could get “big” as a result.

A1
Neighbor Balance & Swing

A2
Ladies RH Chain
Ladies See Saw

B1
Partner Balance & Swing

B2
Ladies RH Chain (keep LH connected with Neighbor as you face them up/down to pull into a…)
Neighbor See Saw (and look away to next)

End effects:
Tune suggestions:
Video:
See also: (Like) Juggling Chainsaws, Dosi Dude

First called by PERSON at VENUE on DATE.

Dosi Dude – DI – Don Veino 20171006

Type: Contra Dance, Duple Improper
Status: Proven

Let's Dosi, Dude!
Let's Dosi, Dude!

This dance is one of a set that grew out of my work on (Like) Juggling Chainsaws. There is a mirror role and move dance to this one, Swinging Chainsaws, which could be paired with this for an alternating dance.

The dance is pleasantly simple yet slightly different/challenging due to the relatively uncommon Gent’s Chain and Dosido to face away transitions. The Chain/CT and pull into the Dosido on the side works well. I carefully teach the Gent’s LH Chain to ensure folks turn properly (CW – Gents forward, Ladies backing up) in the associated Courtesy Turn so the flow is smooth and satisfying. Encourage the dancers to use the full measure of each phrase of the music for the moves – the dance can get “big” as a result.

A1
Neighbor Balance & Swing

A2
Gents LH Chain
Gents Left Shoulder Dosido (See Saw)

B1
Partner Balance & Swing

B2
Gents LH Chain (keep RH connected with Neighbor as you face them up/down to pull into a…)
Neighbor Dosido (and look away to next)

End effects:
Tune suggestions: Bouncy Quebecois tunes, bouncy jigs
Video:
See also: (Like) Juggling Chainsaws, Swinging Chainsaws

First called by me at Concord Scout House Monday Contras on 10/23/2017 (I got a chance to dance it too – folks really liked it). We had a wonderful group of Quebecois musicians playing this evening and the tunes really drove the energy.

The Devils A Swinger – DI – Don Veino 20171012

Type: Contra Dance, Duple Improper
Status: DRAFT

The actual title of this dance is “The Devil’s A Swinger” but WordPress currently won’t show the post if any form of apostrophe is used in the post title, so this is the second try without the punctuation. 🙁

A respin on the traditional dance Devil’s Dream to incorporate swings yet retain much of the tradtional feel. This dance was inspired by the posting of Devil’s Dream on the Shared Weight Caller’s List – I really liked the A parts action of that traditional dance but know there would be dancer complaints about the no swings situation were I to call it at an average dance in the USA. I put a wrinkle in the A parts here (vs. Devil’s Dream) to get the dancers across the set and then set up and add the swings. I’ve refactored this further to create I ♥ Devil Dogs.

Starts with the 1s facing down in the center and 2s facing up on the outside.

A1
(6,2) 1s go down center/2s go up outside – 1s turn as couple, 2s turn alone
[I’d probably teach/prompt “centers as couples, outsides turn alone” as it fits both instances]
(6,2) 1s go up center/2s go down outside – Handy Hand Allemande 1/2x same role Neighbor to 2s in center

A2
(6,2) 1s go down outside/2s go up center – 2s turn as couple, 1s turn alone
(6,2) 1s go up outside/2s go down center – Right Hand Allemande 1/4x opposite role Neighbor
[NOTE: Couples promenade in the same direction both times]

B1
Half Hey (G Pass Left to start)
Neighbor Swing

B2
Long Lines Forward & Back [Alternative: Circle Left 1x]
1s Swing in Center, all face progression

End effects: Be mindful of the differences when changing couple numbers at the ends.
Tune suggestions:
Video:
See also: I ♥ Devil Dogs, The Devil’s Dream (below)

First called by PERSON at VENUE on DATE [include links as appropriate]

Here’s the original traditional dance:

The Devil’s Dream – DI – Traditional

A1
1s face down and lead down the centre while the 2s face up and go up the outside
all turn alone and lead back to give neighbour nearest hand and half turn neighbour

A2
1s facing down the outside and 2s up the middle: lead up or down again
you promenade in the same direction both times
all turn alone and lead back to give left hands to neighbour

B1
turn neighbour into a full ladies chain across

B2
half promenade neighbour across set
half right and left back

I ♥ Devil Dogs – DI – Don Veino 20171012

Type: Contra Dance, Duple Improper
Status: DRAFT

Yep, named for the snack cake that was my second favorite in the Drake’s lineup when I was a kid, right behind Ring Dings and just before Yodels. OK, so maybe behind Yodels too. 🙂

A respin on the traditional dance The Devil’s Dream to incorporate Partner and Neighbor swings. This dance is a further refactoring of my contemporaneous dance The Devil’s A Swinger.

Starts with the 1s facing down in the center and 2s facing up on the outside.

A1
(6,2) 1s go down center/2s go up outside – 1s turn as couple, 2s turn alone
[I’d probably teach/prompt “centers as couples, outsides turn alone” as it fits both instances]
(6,2) 1s go up center/2s go down outside – Handy Hand Allemande 1/2x same role Neighbor to 2s in center

A2
(6,2) 1s go down outside/2s go up center – 2s turn as couple, 1s turn alone
(6,2) 1s go up outside/2s go down center – Right Hand Allemande 1/4x opposite role Neighbor
[NOTE: Couples promenade in the same direction both times]

B1
Gents Cross
Partner Swing

B2
Give & Take to Gents (N Swing), all face progression
[Alternative: Circle Left 3/4x, Neighbor Swing, all face progression]

End effects: Be mindful of the differences when changing couple numbers at the ends.
Tune suggestions:
Video:
See also: The Devil’s A Swinger, The Devil’s Dream (below)

Just FYI, the title is pronounced “I Heart Devil Dogs.”

First called by PERSON at VENUE on DATE [include links as appropriate]

Here’s the original traditional dance:

The Devil’s Dream – DI – Traditional

A1
1s face down and lead down the centre while the 2s face up and go up the outside
all turn alone and lead back to give neighbour nearest hand and half turn neighbour

A2
1s facing down the outside and 2s up the middle: lead up or down again
you promenade in the same direction both times
all turn alone and lead back to give left hands to neighbour

B1
turn neighbour into a full ladies chain across

B2
half promenade neighbour across set
half right and left back

Oh, The Indecency! (v2) – Indecent – Don Veino 20170802

Type: Contra Dance, Duple Indecent
Status: Proven

Grandma in shock photo
Grandma’s shocked at the indecency!
Indecent formation = ones proper, twos crossed over

Not much to say about this one other than I hope dancers really enjoy the novelty of the formation and somewhat uncommon moves. I’m guessing this would routinely be an Intermediate dance yet I was able to call it successfully for the first time with a mixed crowd following a single careful teaching with a Gent’s Chain demo (stressing the reverse direction of the courtesy turn). Several dancers came up to say how much they liked it. 🙂

A1
Partner RH Balance, Cross-Trail to New Ring (pass P right across, N left along)
Ring Balance, Petronella Twirl to Right (face P)

A2
Partner Balance & Swing

B1
LLFB, Gents Left Hand Chain

B2
(G Pass Left) Half Hey, Neighbor Swing

End effects: Wait out crossed over, ready to join dancers for the second ring balance & petronella.
Tune suggestions:
Video: Lavender Country Folk Dancers Contra 9/30/17 (Gender-free, Larks and Ravens)
See also:

First called by me at the Woods Hole, MA Contra on 9/2/2017

Wild Mouse – 4 Face 4 – Don Veino 20170823

Type: Contra Dance, 4 Face 4
Status: DRAFT, EXPERIMENTAL

Amusement park ride image, 1960s
The Wild Mouse ride at Revere Beach, MA sometime in the 1960s or early ’70s
This sequence re-imagines the B parts from my dance Lobster Roll. I wanted to find another way of resolving a 4 Face 4 than has been done to date. Originally I thought of having the two Mad Robin (MR) figures be in opposite rotation with a cross-over (as in a figure 8) in the middle (a la the on the sides action in Sharon of the Green) but was concerned about the possibility of collisions while crossing.

The B1 “Experimental” bit below is my attempt to simplify the MR motion to be consistently in one rotational direction and avoid the collision issue by making the MR path for each dancer into something like a sideways “6” or “9”. The MR pieces in the B1 are in quarter multiples so the dancers can slide past each other across the set in the place between the couple dyads.

Once learned, I think this sequence will be easy to dance – given the Partners facing & associated guidance possibility in the B1 – but could be a challenge to teach!

The title of this dance comes from one of the last amusement park rides remaining at Revere Beach, Massachusetts in the late ’60s – that ride featured a series of loop-backs and sharp turns/feints that made it appear (at least to a ~8 year old) like you were going to fly off the track and land in the nearby Atlantic ocean! The B1 circuitous loops here made me think of that ride. Sadly, what was once quite a stretch of rides at that beach have since become an unbroken line of oversize condos forming a tall wall across from the sand.

A1
Rings/4 Balance, Petronella Right 1 place
Rings/4 Balance, Petronella Right 1 place

A2
Rings/4 Balance, Gents Draw Opposite Lady Back & Swing

B1
(~4) Mad Robin CW 3/4x around Opposite, Gents L->R through center first (facing P up/down)
[so temporarily we have transitory columns of 4 up/down the set with Ladies face to face and two couples “outbound” to edge of set and two couples “inbound” to cross the set]
(~4) Outbound* couples continue MR 1/2 more, WHILE inbound* couples slide straight across set to other side (so Gs behind Ls)
[to temporarily form transitory columns of 4 up/down with opposite roles facing in mini cols of 2 – have swapped inbound and outbound couples]
(~4) Outbound* couples MR 1/2x, WHILE inbound* dancers slide across to other side (L behind G)
(~2,~2) All MR 1/4x+, Ladies Pass Left up/down WHILE Gents MR 1/4x+ to face P

B2
Partner Balance & Swing, end facing progression

[*Inbound/Outbound is relative to the dancer’s (couple’s) current vector at that moment]

End effects: Remember to face progression at the end of the Partner Swing!
Tune suggestions: Bouncy As, smooth Bs
Video:
See also: Lobster Roll

Here’s a video of a different but similar Wild Mouse ride than the one I rode as a kid. Note the complete lack of safety railings on the majority of the track – that’s what got me worried about flying off into the ocean when I was a kid.

First called by PERSON at VENUE on DATE

Lobster Roll – 4 Face 4 – Don Veino 20170823

Type: Contra Dance, 4 Face 4
Status: DRAFT

Lobster and lobster roll
Classic New England seaside shack delight
This sequence re-uses a concept I’d first developed for a down the hall dance Strolling & Rolling. When thinking about the commonality of facing lines/4 and a line/4 down the hall I recognized the same idea of a roll away into a hey would fit into a 4 Face 4 as well. This dance is the result – I paired very bouncy A parts to smooth Bs to give bands some sonic room.

The lobster roll is a classic New England gustatory treat – heck, even McDonald’s offers them here in season. Come visit, find a classic oceanside seafood shack and give one a try!

A1
Rings/4 Balance, Petronella Right 1 place
Rings/4 Balance, Petronella Right 1 place

A2
Rings/4 Balance, Gents draw Opposite Lady Back & Swing

B1
Ladies Chain (up/down to Partner)
Long Lines Forward, Lady Roll Away Partner (and face P across the set)

B2
Half Hey (Partner Pass Right)
Partner Swing, face progression

End effects: Remember to face progression at end of the Partner Swing!
Tune suggestions: Bouncy As, smooth Bs
Video:
See also: Strolling & Rolling, Wild Mouse

First called by me at the Jamaica Plain Gender Free dance on 9/30/17.

Strolling & Rolling – Becket – Don Veino 20170725

Type: Contra Dance, Becket Left/CW
Status: DRAFT

This dance sprang out of my interest in doing something unique out of a Partner Roll Away. I’ve experienced other callers’ attempts at making a roll away feed something with Partner focus like a roll to a swing – and there’s always been some significant flow issue, because the lingering tension from the last contact in the roll got in the way. This dance was crafted specifically to use that tension to launch the next action: entering a hey.

This is most likely an intermediate level dance due to the need for timely and slightly differing action in the A2 as well as the need for good dancer technique to make the roll to heys timing work and everyone end up in the right places. Because all the hey action is focused on Partners, the dance should provide effective recovery points that would keep it out of “advanced” territory.

So far this dance has been walked through successfully but not yet called/danced. I’ve since leveraged this roll to hey into a 4 Face 4 dance, Lobster Roll.

A1
Left Diagonal Circle 3/4x, Swing Neighbor
[first time through, circle is straight across]

A2
(8) Ladies Chain (to P) to face down the hall (so Courtesy Turn = different fractions for 1s and 2s)
(6,2) Down the Hall in Line/4, Gents Roll Partner w/HS (face Partner across set)

B1
Half Hey (pass P Left to start, end in mirror position of start, facing up, Ladies on left of P)
(6,2) Up the Hall in Line/4, Gents Roll Partner w/HS (face P across set)

B2
Half Hey (pass P Right to start, end in mirror position of start, facing P)
Partner Swing

End effects: Wait out on left diagonal to enter in the circle
Tune suggestions: Strongly phrased/driving smooth tunes
Video:
See also: Lobster Roll, The Right In Tension

First called by PERSON at VENUE on DATE

Counter Clock-Weiss – DI – Don Veino 20170729

Type: Contra Dance, Duple Improper
Status: DRAFT, EXPERIMENTAL

Eph & Raeden waltzing
Eph Weiss and our daughter Raeden doing their first waltz in 2013.

This dance was written in memoriam to Eph Weiss. Eph was an active dancer in many folk styles in the Boston, MA area up until nearly his 93rd birthday and was known for doing a CCW Swing to give his knees some relief.

Eph had the grace to be able to substitute a CCW Swing for a conventional Swing and have it work smoothly. In this dance, I rely less on the skill of dancers to accomplish that by making all the moves in the dance facilitate CCW Swings. Because of that, the dance counts on ending the CCW swings (done in reverse ballroom position or other comfortable hold) with the Gent on the right. For a conventional swing respin of this dance, see Ephervescence.

Note that this dance and Ephervescence are sufficiently similar/tune equivalent that they could be easily medleyed to provide dancers the novelty of reverse action for a short while and then switch to conventional moves.

Unbeknownst to me while Eph was still dancing with us, some dancers had nicknamed him “Counter Clock-Weiss” – it seemed the perfect title for this composition!

A1
Neighbor LEFT Gypsy 1x
Gents Pass Right, Half Hey

A2
Neighbor LEFT Gypsy & CCW Swing (end with Gent on RIGHT)

B1
Give & Take to Gents, Partner CCW Swing (end with Gent on RIGHT)

B2
Long Lines Forward & Back
Star Right 3/4x to next

End effects: Wait out crossed over.
Tune suggestions:
Video:
See also: Ephervescence

This has been dry run with some dancers on the sideline successfully, but not yet called/danced.

Ephervescence – DI – Don Veino 20170729

Type: Contra Dance, Duple Improper
Status: Proven

Eph & Raeden waltzing
Eph Weiss and our daughter Raeden doing their first waltz in 2013.

This is a conventional respin of my all-reverse dance Counter Clock-Weiss, written in memoriam to Eph Weiss. Eph was an active dancer in many folk styles in the Boston, MA area up until nearly his 93rd birthday. See Counter Clock-Weiss for the original composition.

A1
Neighbor Gypsy 1x
Ladies Pass Left Half Hey

A2
Neighbor Gypsy & Swing

B1
Give & Take to Gents, Partner Swing

B2
LLF & G Roll Away Partner on way Back
Star Right 3/4x to next

End effects:
Tune suggestions:
Video: First trial
See also: Counter Clock-Weiss

First called by me at the Greenfield, MA Guiding Star Grange on 8/18/2017.

Wicked Smooth – Becket or DI – Don Veino 20170803

Type: Contra Dance, Duple Improper or Becket Left/CW
Status: Proven

There’s been a dance “seed” on my whiteboard for some time, which germinated today into what I think is a wonderfully smooth dance (what we New Englanders might describe as “wicked (very) smooth).” Depending upon programming needs, it can be run as a Duple Improper or Becket – it seems to fit tunes well either way.

Becket Version (Primary)

A1
Ladies Chain (to N)
Star Left 1x

A2
With NEXT Neighbors Circle Left 1x
Neighbor Swing

B1
(6) Mad Robin (Gents through center first/CW)
(2) Gents Pass Left to cross
Half Hey (Pass Partner by Right)

B2
Partner Gypsy, Swing

Duple Improper Version

Before walk through, have dancers Swing their Neighbor briefly to put the 1s below the 2s – this is their home position.

A1
(6) Mad Robin (Gents through center first/CW)
(2) Gents Pass Left to cross
Half Hey (Pass Partner by Right)

A2
Partner Gypsy, Swing

B1
Ladies Chain (to N)
Star Left 1x

B2
With NEXT Neighbors Circle Left 1x
Neighbor Swing

End effects: Wait out crossed over and rejoin the dance via the Circle.
Tune suggestions: Well phrased romantic/sultry tunes
Video:
See also:

Becket version first called by me at CDSS Family Week 2017 at Ogontz Camp on 8/10/2017. Received well with a very mixed crowd – two caller colleagues present asked for the choreography. Finally got a chance to dance it myself when Nils Fredland called it with a really gorgeous tune by Elixir at the Concord Scout House Challenging Contras series on 10/6/17.

Poussettey Spaghetti – DI – Don Veino 20170715

Type: Contra Dance, Duple ImproperImage of Camp Ogontz logo
Status: DRAFT

This dance came out of a comment my wife, Sage, once made while we were walking down to the dance hall at Ogontz camp in Lyman, NH. There was an English Country Dance session going on and Sage was ahead of me in getting towards the hall – I asked her what was going on and she said something to the effect of “I don’t know – some form of Poussettey Spaghetti.” Well that immediately went into the notebook as a future dance title!

It took me nearly a year to finally come up with the dance to fit the name – I’d penned an unpublished one earlier which worked but was too much to teach for contra dancers (used a draw poussette in addition to the conventional one here). When this simpler sequence with similar feel popped into my head I knew Poussettey Spaghetti was finally born.

A1
Neighbor Gypsy & Swing

A2
Circle Left 1x (Face P across and take 2 hands)
1/4 Poussette CW, 2 Hand Turn 1/2 CCW, 1/4 Poussette CW, separate, Gents pass Left

B1
Half Hey, pass Partner Right to start
Partner Swing

B2
Long Lines Forward & Back
Gents Pull By Right, Neighbor Allemande Left 1+1/4x (to next N…)

End effects:
Tune suggestions: Romantic yet with definite cadence
Video:
See also: Poussette in Boots

Poussette in Boots – Becket – Don Veino 20170715

Type: Contra Dance, Becket Left/CWPuss in Boots image
Status: Proven

This dance came out of playing with Poussettes towards my dance Poussettey Spaghetti, intended to be simpler than that dance. At the time of it’s composition, our daughter Raeden was obsessed with getting a cat as a pet and talked about it constantly – for that reason the play on words re: “Puss in Boots” for the title was forward in my mind.

A1
Left diagonal Circle Left 3/4x (G face back at P to take 2 hands)
Half Poussette CW, separate from Partner
Gents Allemande Left 1x (to face N)

A2
Full Hey, pass Neighbor Right to start

B1
Neighbor Gypsy & Swing

B2
Give & Take to Gents, P Swing

End effects:
Tune suggestions: Romantic yet with definite cadence
Video: coming soon
See also: Poussettey Spaghetti

First called by me at the Concord Scout House Monday Contras series 7/24/2017.

(Riding in the) Zoomy Car – DI – Don Veino 20170717

Type: Contra Dance, Duple Improper
Status: Proven

The A parts of this composition were inspired by Lindsey Dono’s work-in-progress composition Working Title (WT), which I’d become involved in discussing. Lindsey, several others and I were challenged to date in finding a smooth two-swing resolution to Working Title’s unique/signature compound-action Figure 8 and Hole in the Wall A parts.

However, after reporting back my best attempt on that to Lindsey, my brain wouldn’t let go of the feel of the dance and I came up with the following re-imagining on WT‘s A parts theme and married it to one of the B parts solutions I’d offered up for Working Title (which worked in that context only if the “half” Figure 8s in that dance included a second cross-over for the actives – becoming a “5/8ths Figure 8”?).

The title for this one is again inspired by our daughter Raeden. My sports car has remained in the garage for the 5 years since her birth (car seats are unsafe in two-seaters). Raeden loves speed/curves/inertia and frequently talks about a future day “when I’ll get to ride in Daddy’s zoomy car.” The swooping action of this dance reminded me of her dream – which I look forward to fulfilling soon.

A1
2s Handy Hand Gate 1s 1+1/4x (mirror move)
[Simpler alternative: Long Lines Forward & Back]
1s Half Figure 8 down through 2s (around same role and above to center of line/4 facing down, L2,L1,G1,G2)

A2
Line/4 Down the Hall, bend line
[pssst: the bend is actually a 1s Gate 2s 1/2x – but they don’t need to know that if you did LLFB in A1]
2s Half Figure 8 up through 1s (around opposite role and below to center of line/4 facing up)
[to G1,L2,G2,L1 from dancer’s perspective (or L1,G2,L2,G1 from stage)]

B1
Line/4 Up the Hall; Gent 1 lets go, the Twos arch* via Gent doing Left Hand High/Right Low to shoot Lady 1 through to Gent 1
Partner Swing
[*note Lady 2 continues walking forward during Left High/Right Low move to make space for Lady 1 to pass through straight across and can keep hands directly into the Swing]

B2
Gents Allem Left 1+1/2x
Neighbor Swing (and take [handy] hand with next…)
[Alternative for Allemande: Give & Take in some form to Ladies]

End effects: Be mindful of how your action changes when crossing over at ends
Tune suggestions: Marches, strongly phrased romantic tunes
Video: Princeton, NJ
See also: Lindsey Dono’s work-in-progress Working Title

First called by me at the Princeton, NJ Country Dancers contra on 7/19/2017 with LLFB option in A1.

Dance No Evil – Becket – Don Veino 20170710

Type: Contra Dance, Becket CW/Left Formation
Status: Proven

Another in a series of my “not evil” Star 3/4 explorations.
See Shining Sparkle for my original Star 3/4 composition and motivation.

This dance counts on the “New England Style” Promenade and Star holds for best flow. This dance is best considered with an intermediate crowd or higher.

A1
Long Lines Forward & Back
Gents Cross (passing left), Neighbor Allemande Left 1x
Keeping left hands, Gents continue pivoting behind Lady to take right hands in Promenade position (adjust left hand hold as required – end facing CCW around oval)
[Following the LLF&B one could substitute a Gents Allemande Left 1+1/2 but I prefer the above]

A2
(6,2) Neighbor Promenade CCW, Ladies Turn Back (over right shoulder) WHILE Gents continue forward
(8) Next Neighbor Swing

B1
Neighbor Promenade CW (back to opposite P)
Star Right 3/4x (Lady in front of N, to Shadow) [see teaching note]
Shadow Allemande Left 1x

B2
Partner Gypsy & Swing

Teaching notes:

  • At starting LLF&B, you have your Partner in one hand and Shadow in your other (at ends they’re across from you). Looking past your Shadow at this point, you are facing the same direction (up or down the hall) as you will begin the Promenade in the A2 and you’ll find them in the B1.
  • For the B1 Star, do not turn as a couple to face across out of the Promenade – Ladies lead entry into the Star, placing RH on Partner’s wrist – Gents stay behind and put RH on this N’s wrist – rotate Star 3/4x to Shadow.

End effects: Ends enter via the A2 Promenade with your Partner. You’re never out, Shadow needs you.
Tune suggestions: Sultry, romantic
Video:
See also: Shining Sparkle and Trip Through Athol.

First called by me at the Concord Scout House Monday Contras series 7/24/2017.

Trip Through Athol – Becket – Don Veino 20170609

Type: Contra Dance, Becket CW/Left Formation
Status: Proven

US Route 2 is a significant road connecting contra dances in the eastern and western parts of Massachusetts (in particular at the Concord Scout House and Guiding Star Grange in Greenfield). To go from one to the other on Route 2 you pass through the town of Athol. Enunciate this dance title carefully! 🙂

Writtten in response to a calling colleague’s declaration that a Star 3/4 was “Evil, Don. Super evil.” See below links for other “not evil” Star 3/4 compositions.

A1
Circle Left 3/4x
Neighbor Swing

A2
(4,4) Ring Balance, Petronella Slide/Twirl 1pl Right (no clap)
(6) Star Left 3/4x
(2) Next Neighbor Allemande Right 1/2x (to long waves, G face in)

B1
(4,4) Wave Balance (fwd/back), Gents Cross, Ladies Loop (ends RH w/P, on away side)
(4,4) Wave Balance, Ladies Cross, Gents Loop (RH w/N, L @home)

B2
(4,4) Wave Balance, Gents Cross, Ladies Loop
(8) Partner Swing

End effects: Ends wait out crosssed over, enter via the A2 Allemande 1/2.
Tune suggestions: Atholl Highlander (contra 32 bar length version), Bouncy Jigs
Video: coming soon
See also: Shining Sparkle and Dance No Evil

First called by me at the Concord Scout House Monday Contras series 7/24/2017.

Interesting tidbit: there’s a song from another era which plays on these unique MA signs and towns with person names – some versions mention Athol in the lyrics.

Shining Sparkle – DI – Don Veino 20170609

Type: Contra Dance, Duple Improper
Status: Proven
Alternate Title: During testing this was temporarily known as “The 75% Solution” and “Stellar Redemption.”

While discussing a caller’s draft dance with colleagues, one persisted that a Star 3/4 was always “Evil, Don. Super evil.” I disagreed, asserting they do need a clear, defined end but were not necessarily evil. Having a dislike of absolutes, I worked up two response/proof of concept dances using a Star 3/4 – this one and Trip Through Athol. (Dance No Evil has now come since.)

The dance is named after one of our daughter’s stuffed “friends” (Shining Sparkle, who is a very magical unicorn) and I thought it fit well for a “not evil” Star. It can reward timely dancing with a satisfying *thwack* connection arising from the B part Star-Allemande to Wave sequence.

A1
Neighbor Balance & Swing

A2
Circle Left 3/4x
Partner Swing

B1
(8) LLFB
(6) Star Right 3/4x
(2) This Neighbor Allemande Right 1/2x (to long waves, G face in)

B2
Long Wave Balance Right & Left, Slide/Twirl Right
Long Wave Balance Left & Right, Slide/Twirl Left (to new N)

End effects: Probably less confusing if ends don’t participate in long waves and just wait for their Neighbor to come to them out of the B2.
Tune suggestions: Bouncy Jigs
Video:
See also: Trip Through Athol and Dance No Evil

First called by me at the East Sandwich, MA Grange on 6/17/2017.

Trip to Santa Fe – Circle Mixer – Don Veino 20170622

Type: Circle Mixer
Status: Proven

During a trip to New Mexico for other reasons I arranged to be booked for the Santa Fe FolkMADS Contra Dance. Shortly before the event I was informed that a group of 20+ international students who’d never done contra were planning on attending (turned out to be ~60% of the attendees at the start). In planning my program I realized the existing mixers in my deck were either too risky for those folks or too simple for the regulars. I wanted something that would build on the sequence of moves introduced in my teaching plan (which factored in language challenge) so I came up with the following. It worked out well with that group.

A1
Into the Center and Back
Circle Left

A2
Circle Right
Partner Dosido (and turn away from P)
[so Gents look CW, Ladies CCW]

B1
Neighbor Balance and Swing

B2
(new) Partner Promenade

First called by me at the FolkMADS Contra Dance in Santa Fe, NM on 6/24/2017. They created a nice flyer for the event (featuring our respective state birds!), which I’ve included below. Hope to get back together with them sometime!

Santa Fe Contra 6/24/17 Flyer

House of Love – DI – Don Veino 20170529

Type: Contra, Duple Improper
Status: Proven

This is a re-imagining of my dance Soft Gummy Tummies to provide everyone partner and neighbor swings plus allow for greater tune flexibility. Note the A-parts marching direction is reversed here vs. SGT in order to ease the A2 swing entry. An alternate approach is to have the marching start CW and continue CW all the way around the 4 sides of the box back to the start – but I prefer it as written below.

The title for this dance was supplied by our 5 year old daughter Raeden and she made this illustration to go along with it (I’m the tall guy on the right pushing the swing):House of Love drawing

A1
(Facing CCW around your hands/4 – think of the hands/4 as a box with the dancers at the corners)
(4,4) March 4 steps & turn 90 deg. left, march 4 steps more & turn to face center
[have walked around 2 sides to opposite the starting spot, facing back at original spot]
(4,4) Take 4 steps to center, loop/turn single over right shoulder to face CW back at this corner spot

A2
(Facing CW around your hands/4)
(4,4) March 4 steps & turn 90 deg. right, march 4 steps more & Ladies turn back over right shoulder
[have walked around same 2 sides back to starting corner spot]
(8) Neighbor Swing

B1
Give & Take to Gents, Partner Swing
[Alternate tune fit: Ring Balance, Gents draw Partner back to Swing]

B2
(4,4) Ring Balance, Petronella Twirl/Slide Right
(4,4) Ring Balance, Pass Through Up/Down

Tune: Softly Good Tummas still works. For others suggest bouncy/march tunes, e.g.: Keith Murphy’s Reign of Love, The Wren, Burning of the Piper’s Hut, etc.
Video: First test at the Berlin, MA Country Orchestra dance 6/3/2017

Dark Side of the Moon – DI – Don Veino 20170526

Type: Contra, Duple Improper
Status: Proven

In the Contra Dancers Facebook group Emma Rushton posted to ask if anyone had or was planning to write a contra themed for the August 21, 2017 total eclipse of the sun. I originally offered my recent dance Oh, Yeah! as a possible theme fit. A couple of days later the idea for this sequence arose, which riffs off that dance but now includes a shadow figure plus orbiting in various forms for theme fit. 🙂

Could also be called as a Becket CW dance, starting at the B2.

The title is a nod to the classic Pink Floyd album containing their tune Eclipse, which ends:

and everything under the sun is in tune
but the sun is eclipsed by the moon.

A1
Neighbor Gypsy & Swing [ALT: Dosido & Swing]

A2
Long Lines Forward & Back
Gents Gypsy Left 1x in center
     WHILE
Ladies Orbit CW 1/2x, pass Partner by right shoulder

B1
Gypsy Left with Shadow (back to)
Partner Swing

B2
(6) Circle Left 3/4x
(8) Couple Dosido Current Neighbors 1x
(2) Pass Through to next

Looking across at your Partner in your original hands four, Shadow will be on your right diagonal.

End effects: Don’t cross over until after your Shadow move. If you swing your Partner out of the Shadow Gypsy, you’ll end up naturally crossed over at the ends.
Tune suggestions: Note tune choice will affect A1 move selection.
Video: First trial run.
See also: Oh, Yeah!

First called by me at the Greenfield, MA Guiding Star Grange on 8/18/2017 with music by Annika Amstutz (fiddle), Daniel Plane (cello) and Becky Hollingsworth (piano). As I was explaining the provenance of the dance to the hall, Daniel slipped in a fun snippet of Pink Floyd (from the correct album) on cello which had us cracking up!

Super Robin – DI – Don Veino 20170523

Type: Contra Dance, Duple Improper
Status: Proven

Dedicated to Robin Humes – family friend and super volunteer in service of the Concord Scout House area contra community. It’s only fitting this dance include a Mad Robin (besides the obvious eponymous link), because Bob Isaacs’ dance Redbeard Reel (commissioned by Robin for her husband – John Wasser) features one as well.

When mentioning the title, I think it’s fun to give it proper super hero intonation: “SUP-er Robin!” 🙂

A1
Neighbor Gypsy (or Balance) & Swing

A2
Mad Robin CW 1+1/4 (Gents start Forward & Right, to Wave Across, G by LH in center)
Short Wave Balance Right & Left, Twirl/Slide Right (Ladies Super Twirl across)

B1
Partner (Balance &) Swing

B2
Circle Left 3/4 to Wave (L by LH in center, facing progression)
Wave Balance Fwd/Back, Dance Fwd to next

End effects: Wait out crossed over
Tune suggestions: Note tune choice will affect A1 and B1 move selection. Dancers seem to enjoy twirling straight into the B1 Partner Swing.
Video: N/A
See also: N/A

First called by Linda Leslie at the Guiding Star Grange Extravadance on 5/27/2017.

Bang a U-Ey! [V2] – DI – Don Veino 20140321

Type: Contra Dance, Duple Improper
Status: Proven but revised 20170528

I wanted to create an improper dance which provided the opportunity for cross-set play so often available in proper contras. Originally the A1 action was for the ones and then twos (allemande and turn single), the May 2017 version 2 changed that to Gents and then Ladies (allemande and walk around N). Dancers still have an opportunity for same role cross-set allemandes, while the opposite role is doing their primary allemande in the A1 – but this requires timely execution!

When I was growing up in Eastern Massachusetts, if you were giving directions and wanted someone driving to make a U-Turn, you’d say “bang a U-Ey” – the title here refers to the several instances of U-Turn action in this dance.

A1
Gents Allemande Right 1x and walk around the new Neighbor by the Left Shoulder to face in
Ladies Allemande Left 1x and walk around their Neighbor by the Right Shoulder to face in
[all end back in their original spots]

A2
Star Right 3/4x (until with P on Ladies’ home side)
Gents Turn Back (over right shoulder), Partner Swing

B1
Gents Cross to Neighbor (passing Lefts), Swing

B2
Right Hand to Partner (across set)
Interrupted Square Through 2, 2x (Balance, Partner Pull by RH across, Neighbor LH along set, repeat)
[Gents look to next and…]

End effects: Wait out crossed over
Tune suggestions: N/A
Video: N/A
See also: Hey, Bang a U-Ey! (not yet posted)

First called by me in 2014, revised 5/28/2017 – revision not yet called.

The Mighty Mommy Mole – Proper Triplet – Don Veino 20160327

Type: Proper Triplet
Status: Proven

This is my first Triplet dance. I was inspired to come up with this after seeing Bob Isaacs’ dance Cinnamon Cruller on the SharedWeight Caller’s List. I love the transition from the star into the big circle in the traditional dance British Sorrow and strove for a similar feel in the B2 of this dance. This dance is unusual in having the Twos be the active couple.

A1
(16) 2s Full Figure 8, starting below through the 3s
[2s down center around opposite role 3s below, then up center around same role 1s (back to place)]

A2
(16) 2s turn Contra Corners (w/opposite role Corners)

B1
(4,12) 2s Balance & Swing in center/middle, end facing up (1s face down)
[1s & 2s Form Ring, 3s Take Hands with Partner]

B2
(4,4) All Balance, Two-Hand Turn Left 1/2 or Circle Left 1/2 (becoming improper)
[1s below 2s, all open out to…]
(8) All Circle/6 Left 1/2 (all back to proper
[ending 3-1-2]

First called by me at Berlin, MA Contra dance 20160402

Oh, Yeah! – DI – Don Veino 20170428

Type: Contra, Duple Improper
Status: DRAFT

Alternative Title: When I’m Sixty Four
as in (sung to the refrain of the Beatles tune of the same name):

Am I too dizzy?
Will you still dance me?
When I’m sixty four?

More Mad Robin sequence investigation. In this dance I revisit a theme from my prior “Cricket’s Reboot” dance inspired by Kent Koeninger’s “Cricket’s Delight” – in this case the rest of the dance resolves differently (and – I think – with more elegance).

Some callers would disqualify this dance based on a CW beat count using the simplistic “40 CW beats” filter for potential dizziness. I’ve investigated the “dizziness power” of CW moves and my contention is that certain moves with fixed facing direction have effectively zero dizziness impact (e.g. Mad Robin) and others are perceived in proportion to the radius of the move and the degree to which dancers face along the radius (Swings = most dizzy). This dance is an experimental proof of concept to test my theory – chock full of CW goodness! I welcome you to give this ostensibly dizzy (56 to up to 64 CW beat count) dance a trial and prove to yourself it’s not “Too Dizzy”.

Can also be called as a Becket CW dance, starting at the B2. Several B2 alternatives included below for anticipated live testing.

The title is a nod to the classic Mello Yello song and I encourage you to say it the same way. 🙂

A1
Neighbor Gypsy & Swing [ALT: Dosido & Swing]

A2
Mad Robin 1x (Gents L->R through Center first, facing P across)
Gents Gypsy Left 1x
     WHILE
Ladies Orbit CW 1/2x

B1
Partner Gypsy & Swing

B2 (preferred, but will timing work?)
(6) Circle Left 3/4x
(2) Half Zig Left (forward & left 2 steps, to pass current N Couple by Right Shoulders)
(6) Next Couple Dosido 3/4x (to face this second couple)

B2 Alternative 1 (preserves CW motion theme but I like the feel less; easier end effects?)
(6) Circle Left 3/4x
(8) Current Neighbors Couple Dosido 1x
(2) Pass Through to next

B2 Alternative 2 (good feel if Roll well done; doesn’t fit CW theme as well)
LLF & Ladies Roll Gents L->R on way back
Star Left 3/4x

B2 Alternative 3 (double progression; doesn’t fit CW theme as well)
(6) Circle Left 3/4x
(4,4) Couple Zig-Zag, to left around current Neighbors, to right around 2nd, to face 3rd couple

Hey, Aren’t You With Me? – Becket – Don Veino 20170416

Type: Contra Dance, Becket Left/CW Formation
Status: DRAFT

Another dance playing with Mad Robin transitions (see similar posts). In a way this is a return to one of my earliest dances (Raeden’s Curls), which used a Mad Robin 1+1/4 – Slide – Gents Pass & P Swing sequence. Here the extended motion Mad Robin sets up parallel full Heys where the partners diverge & travel separately (with a Shadow) to subsequently reconnect.

NOTE: this dance can also be danced without the parallel Heys, if the A2 Mad Robin is 1+1/4x around instead. In this case, the Partners will dance together (without Shadows) for the full Hey but they may come back together a beat or two before the B2 phrase – such that having the Ladies do a Bounce Back to let the Gents pass right to start the Hey may be more appropriate for timing.

A1
Slide Left, Single File Promenade CW 3 places, Ladies Turn Back (or, of course, Circle Left 3/4x on diagonal)
Neighbor Swing

A2
Ladies Chain (to P)
Mad Robin 1+1/2x (looking across at a Neighbor) until Partners slide into separate adjacent columns, all facing center
[Gents slide right on the outside, Ladies slide left and are facing in middle. Shadow is the opposite role person closest to you in this column, MR Neighbor is the furthest.]

B1
Full Hey, Ladies Pass Right to start

B2
[look to adjacent Hey]
Partner Balance & Swing

End effects: To be confirmed – should be somewhat funky but workable. When ejected from the Mad Robin, dancers can either do the Full Hey with a Neighbor and the couple waiting out (which should include at least one shadow), or Hey with ghosts (if nobody’s there), or simply wait for their partner to return from their own Hey. When really out, wait on the left side and enter via the A1 Slide Left.

(Like) Juggling Chainsaws – DI – Don Veino 20170406

Type: Contra, Duple Improper
Status: DRAFT

For this dance the Chain to See Saw[1] progression idea (the “experimental” part) came first. Then the title[2], which implied there must be more than a single Chain/Saw, which drove the rest of the composition. To minimize dizziness risk, one can omit twirling in their See Saw, if desired.

This is most likely an Intermediate to Advanced level dance, given the lack of easy recovery points (like Long Lines) while containing quite a bit of disconnected motion.

UPDATE 20171005:

Since my original posting of this dance, I’d put it aside wanting to come back and refine it (I do this when I’m too engrossed in a particular sequence as a way to reset my brain and find “grace” or “simplicity” in the sequence later). Shortly thereafter a solution offered itself – which I’ve only just now transcribed from my notebook. The post has been updated to show my revised solution – I’ve left the original “experimental” draft at the end of this post so one may see the evolution (if interested).

A1
Neighbor Balance & Swing

A2
(8) Gents LH Chain (to P)
(8) Gents See Saw 1+1/2x (or See Saw 1x and pass Lefts across)
WHILE
Ladies Orbit CW 1/2x (Pass RT shoulder w/next Lady)

B1
Partner Balance & Swing

B2
Ladies RH Chain, ending Courtesy Turn facing N (up/down, reverse of progression), keep left hands w/N
(pull into) See Saw 1x with THIS Neighbor, end facing NEXT Neighbor

End effects: Wait out crossed over for N to come to you out of B2 See Saw.

Notes:

[1] See Saw = Left Shoulder/CCW orbiting Dosido

[2] Original title ideas included “Concord Chainsaw Massacre” which I thought was pretty catchy/fun for horror movie fans (playing off the Texas named classic) but potentially off-putting to others. The new title still fits in the Chain & See-Saw play on words while hopefully being less discomforting. 🙂

See Also: There’s a series of dances featuring this Chain/See-saw concept and the Roll Away to Partner Shoulder Pass used in my Strolling & Rolling and Lobster Roll dances, which should be posted shortly.

ORIGINAL EXPERIMENTAL DRAFT:

If the timing turns out as I expect, the Orbit and Gent’s chain to Courtesy Turn transition should be a wonderful pairing of clockwork action and delicious momentum. Or an utter disaster. 🙂

A1
Neighbor Balance & Swing

A2
(8) Gents See Saw[1] 1x WHILE Ladies Orbit CW 1/2x (Pass RT shoulder w/next Lady)
(8) Gents LH Chain (to N)

B1
Gents Cross, Passing Lefts
Partner Swing

B2
Ladies RH Chain with partial CT to end facing CCW around oval, Ladies go forward along the side while Gents turn over their LT Shoulder
See Saw Next Neighbor

End effects: Wait out crossed over, ready to come in for the B2 See Saw.

Notes:

Of course, there are prior dances using a Ladies Chain to progress and Dosido as a linking move, either as the last of B2 or first of A1. I’ve not yet encountered a Chain to See Saw combination as used here – there may be good reason for that.

Should the original B2 above not work out well when danced, there’s a similar alternative which should:
B2
Ladies Pull by Right, Neighbor Allemande Left 1/2
(to face progression – Ladies CCW, Gents CW around oval)
Walk Forward and Dosido next Neighbor

Soft Gummy Tummies – DI – Don Veino 20170415

Type: Contra (or ECD), Duple Improper (or Gender Role Free)
Status: Proven

The inspiration for this dance came from Jeff Kaufman on Facebook. He related a story where his band The Free Raisins were asked to play the English Country Dance (ECD) tune “Softly Good Tummas” at a contra dance and that got him to think about adapting the associated ECD to a contra format. We had some discussion on that FB thread and he posted his Becket formation dance.

This discussion forced the tune to become an ear worm for me and I was compelled to take my own shot at composing a very simple dance to match the tune – one that could be used for a very beginner heavy dance venue. I put mine nominally in Duple Improper formation (but it arguably also works as a gender-role-free dance – so long as you’re careful to end in correct spots/facing direction with your P). As Jeff did, I lifted the A parts pretty much intact from the ECD.

A1
(Facing CW around your hands/4 – think of the hands/4 as a box with the dancers at the corners)
(4,4) March 4 steps & turn 90 deg. right, march 4 steps more & turn to face center
[have walked around 2 sides to opposite the starting spot, facing back at original spot]
(4,4) Take 4 steps to center, loop/turn single over left shoulder to face CCW back at this corner spot, clap
(for a simpler version, substitute a double ring balance for the into the middle and turn singles)

A2
(Facing CCW around your hands/4)
(4,4) March 4 steps & turn 90 deg. left, march 4 steps more & turn to face center
[have walked around same 2 sides back to starting corner spot]
(4,4) Take 4 steps to center, loop/turn single over your inside shoulder (wink at your Partner) to face your Neighbor on the side, clap
(for a simpler version, substitute a double ring balance for the into the middle and turn singles)

B1
Neighbor Balance & Swing

B2
(4,12) Ring Balance, 1s Swing & all face new group/4

B2 Alternatives:

  1. 1s Balance & Swing
  2. 1s Gypsy & Swing
  3. 1s Half Figure 8 up and around opposite N to Swing P below
  4. Circle Left 1x, 1s Swing
  5. 2s take the place of the 1s for any of the above/mirror moves
  6. Alternating action for 1s then 2s

Tune: Softly Good Tummas (see the original ECD with the tune)

First called by Linda Leslie at the LCFD Spring Dance Camp in Woodstock, CT – May 5-7, 2017

Fun fact: The title is obviously a play on Softly Good Tummas, but was inspired by a yummy candy from Trader Joe’s…
Gummy Tummy Penguins!

Spring Fling – Becket – Don Veino 20170404

Type: Contra, Becket Left/CW
Status: Proven

A relatively simple/straightforward composition containing two uncommon points: a Mad Robin figure (easy, once taught – and which I feel flows wonderfully into a chain) and a Courtesy Fling*. Dancers often rush a Mad Robin which should work works well in this dance (I hope!) to provide a little bit of extra time for the Courtesy Fling. Significant Partner focus and Shadow anchor point in the wave should help make this suitable for a less than experienced crowd.

Composed while I was thinking about dances to call for the crowded Festival Orchestra session (in the HS Gym right after the Saturday Medley) at the 2017 New England Folk Festival. Melanie Axel-Lute called this during our shared session.

A1
Slide Left, Ladies Pass Right shoulders to cross
Neighbor Swing
Alternative:
On left diagonal, Circle Left 3/4x
Neighbor Swing

A2
(~6) Mad Robin (CCW/Ladies through the center Rt->Lt to start)
(~10) Ladies Chain (to P) with Courtesy Fling* (ending in long waves, Ladies facing out & Gents in)
[LH with P and RH with Shadow in wave]

B1
Rory O’Moore Wave Balance Right & Left, Slide/Twirl Right
Rory O’Moore Wave Balance Left & Right, Slide/Twirl Left

B2
Partner Balance & Swing

End Effects: When in the last place still in the dance, you’ll do the wave balance sequence with ghosts if nobody is out. When waiting out, do the waves with whomever comes at you and then wait on the left diagonal for the circle start.

*The Courtesy Fling is a conventional Courtesy Turn with the motion for the Ladies extended in an arc around the still connected left hands to end facing the opposite of the Gents. In this dance it results in a long wave.

Video: 2017 New England Folk Festival – Melanie Axel-Lute calling, with music by the Festival Orchestra.

The Whole Slice – Becket – Don Veino 20170401

Type: Contra, Becket CW/Left
Status: Proven

I was reviewing candidate dances for the 2017 New England Folk Festival, and this dance literally wrote itself. It came to me in a straight stream of consciousness, in a little under a minute. Despite the date, that’s not an April Fool’s joke – don’t you wish they all came that easily? 🙂

This is one of a series of dances I’ve written featuring a Hole in the Wall* move taken from English Country Dance. Like Mad Robin, this is not a literal lift of the move here but rather a modification for contra dance use. For other compositions with a similar move, see my The Love Pirate & Ladies, Whirled, Linda’s Gifts, Give the Gents a Whirl and Another Gent-le Whirl dances.

Emphasize with the dancers that the Hole in the Wall bit takes a full 8 beats or it’s likely they’ll rush it (by design, the circle and swing can absorb that). One way to do this would be to tell them it’s effectively a hands-free Long Lines Forward & Back – except you swap facing direction with your Neighbor halfway through. Having a partner target for the left diagonal chain helps anchor dancers.

A1
(4,4) Slice Forward on left diagonal, Fall Straight Back
(8!) Hole in the Wall* (with N straight across – “Go Forward, Neighbor Swap, Fall Back”), look away from Partner

A2
(6) Circle Left 3/4 (w/same N & your shadow)
(10) Neighbor Swing

B1
(8) Left Diagonal Ladies Chain (to P)
(8) Half Hey Ladies Pass Right (straight across)

B2
(4,12) Partner Balance & Swing

End effects: When ejected for the circle, swing your neighbor on the left diagonal and be ready for the Ladies Chain. Wait out with your Partner on left diagonal to enter via the slice.

*Hole in the Wall: Borrowed from an English Country Dance move, you walk forward 3 steps to face N across, Gypsy Right 1/2x to swap places with the Neighbor and back out 3 steps. It’s very similar to a hands-free Long Lines Forward & Back (with the same cadence) – except you change places/facing direction with your Neighbor in the middle. For contra dancers, I call this with something like “Forward, Neighbor Swap, Fall Back” – I avoid using Hole in the Wall to limit the terms in play.

First called by me at the Monday Contras series at the Concord, MA Scout House on 6/5/17.

Spicing Up Your Dance Collection with Pepperplate

In this post I will lay out some history of how I have managed my dance collection and what I am currently exploring as a way to greatly simplify the work of building and maintaining that collection and making it available whenever and wherever I am.

I’ve been calling (leading/prompting) contra dances for several years now. One of the things you need to figure out pretty quickly when you decide to become a caller is how you’re going to record and organize your dances.

Like most beginning callers, at first I recorded dances by hand on index cards (or all too frequently, any spare sheet of paper I could find at a dance). As my collection grew (and I started actually having to use these compositions to lead others through the dances) my requirements for standardization and legibility grew. (In all fairness, my background includes quite a bit of business process work – so I’m a bit of a process wonk.)

So for a couple of years now I’ve been working with a system which typically involves too much work. Why? Because I chose to standardize on using 3×5 inch index cards, which turns out to be pretty darn small. The 3x5s have enabled me to carry my core card collection easily in my dance bag if I want. But the small size means I need to really work on re-writing a lot of the material I gather to abbreviate or summarize and reduce to a standardized shorthand format I record on my cards. The real estate has been very constraining (but in fairness has made me really good at slimming down language clearly). And when someone else wants to see my card or I post a dance to a discussion group there’s sometimes questions about the notation.

I have been creating these cards using a template I had set up in Open Office Writer (now Libre Office) which then I would laser print 4-up on card stock as I added new ones or a given card wore out/was revised and then cut them with a paper trimmer to size. I could also export the cards to a large PDF file containing my whole collection. I kept both the pdf and original files backed up and synchronized across several computers via Spider Oak so I would never fear losing my collection. An example card:
A dance card format example.
My workflow for finding dances and transforming them into a usable card was essentially:

  1. Find a dance I liked. This could be from dancing or seeing one danced or based on something in email from a group/forum, etc.
  2. If got in person, I originally would scribble it down. Sometimes a caller would offer to email it to me. My latest trick has been to either take a cell phone picture of a caller’s card or quickly get the dance name and/or moves entered into Google Keep on my phone.
  3. If via email, I tag the email with a “Dance to Collect” tag in GMail which becomes a queue to transcribe from.
  4. Discover my dances in queue (Keep, email or photos) and review them for quality/suitability. Was I just in a dance trance and got carried away or is it really a good one? Will I actually call it? If all good, continue on. If not, delete or recycle the paper.
  5. Process worthy dances into standard format, adding them to the master Writer file. Queue them in the “dances to review” section and when there’s a suitable chunk, print on recycled regular sheets of paper to try out.
  6. Kitchen Validate. Try dancing my transcribed card in our kitchen. If needed, cajole other family members to run through it with me. Apply my now standard set of QA checks to the dance (progresses? work for both roles? etc.) and create teaching notes as required for when I’d call it.
  7. Dance Validate. When a suitable opportunity presents, call the dance. Note any key learnings on the card and mark it as validated as applicable. Factor in any dancer or musician feedback (often noting the tune chosen, if I’m sharp enough to ask).
  8. Update Cards. When I’d think of it, I would drag out my cards and scan them for ones with handwriting on them and record that information back into the electronic copy. If significant, I’d reprint the card(s).

As you can likely tell, that’s a lot of work. However, my cards enabled me to do a pretty good job calling even material that was new to me. I often got positive comments from musicians I worked with about the cards being very usable.

If you’re a caller, you might ask why I wasn’t using one of the existing caller tools to capture my cards, like Caller’s Companion or Dance Organizer? Well the answer is that I don’t have any iThings or WinThings. I run Linux on all my computers plus my cell phone and tablet are using Android currently. Sadly both of the established caller solutions don’t support any of what I’ve got.

So in a fit of frustration the other day I launched into yet another of my ~yearly reviews of the caller/leader software out there and found the dedicated applications landscape to have essentially remained unchanged. I thought briefly of setting up something on my own domain, veino.com, to do this as a database application but that would be limited to where I could get on a network. So, as an open source enthusiast, I started thinking creatively (we often need to do this, as popular “local app” tools are frequently omitted for Linux in particular). My breakthrough was thinking “what is a dance card?” and my answer was “it’s effectively a recipe for a dance.” With that insight, I started researching the recipe management software solutions out there. Again, I found a lot of stuff for OS X and Windows, even Android and a bit for linux. As I looked into it I realized my criteria basically boiled down to:

  1. Being able to add or edit dances anywhere I was on any device
  2. Being able to print them to hard copy if needed
  3. Being able to organize them into a program for an evening.

These were the core requirements, several ancillary ones flowed from there. These included the ability to classify dances in standard ways for filtering, searching to quickly find one, and managing my work queue. Also important was the ability to work offline when a web connection was not available (and sync that work when connected again).

The end result of my search was finding the Pepperplate recipe suite. It supports all my electronic devices, either through local apps or website tools. It supports tagging, filtering and search. The dance and meal analogy gets extended via treating a dance as a dish, a program as a menu and a booked event as a planned meal. It supports sections (parts) of a recipe, like sauce (A1), ingredients and instructions (moves and calls/teaching points). Pepperplate provides for adding dishes to a menu, and menus to a meal. I find that the analogy fits pretty well and I can use this tool to do most of what I want for my dance collection seamlessly. It also supports sharing recipes (dances) in a couple of easy ways.

The biggest difference from what I’ve otherwise found in the caller tools space is that this will work with pretty much all popular (and even unpopular) devices and that it automatically syncs across them. And not that it really matters given the relatively low cost of the existing dance leader applications, but it is also free.

I’m in the early stages with Pepperplate and tried calling from it for the first time just this past weekend. I only have a limited set of dances in the tool so far but it has been doing pretty well. I’m no longer severely space constrained! I do have some criticisms and have discovered some workarounds (mostly Android settings) to get around them. And BTW, there’s a big plus for me: the Android app includes a timer for each dish (dance) in a menu (program), so I can set it for how long I want to run the dance and a “can’t miss” message pops up to keep me on track.

In fairness, there are some risks and glitches with using Pepperplate for a dance collection beyond the obvious. These include a dependence upon a business with a not entirely clear how they make money business model. They might also not be happy with it being used this way (though from a quick review of their Terms of Service it appears to not be in violation and doing so just provides more eyeballs for their ads served). However, the data is stored locally on the device for off-line use and (at least on Android) is in a format that can be backed up and extracted/manipulated should Pepperplate.com go belly up.

Is it ideal? No, but it’s ~85-90% of the way IMO. Until something better comes along, I think I’ll be using Pepperplate to manage my dance collection going forward.

In a later post I’ll cover my experiences and tips with using the tool for this application: limitations I’ve found as a dance organizer (and even as a straight recipe) app, how I’ve set things up for ease of use/applicability and how I’ve fit Pepperplate into the dance collection workflow I lay out above. A quick preview: it has made things much easier!

Westford PCA Barn Dance 3/23/2013

Tonight I’m calling a Barn Dance at the Westford, MA Parish Center for the Arts (PCA), working with the house band OH, CONTRAire!

Despite being called a Barn Dance, I confirmed with the organizer that they are looking for/happy with a straight contra dance program. I asked because that is pretty much the extent of my repertoire and wanted to be sure it will be a fit.

I have a nice program coming together and am looking forward to calling this dance very close to our home. See you tonight!

Concord Monday Contras 11/26/2012

A great night at my home dance in Concord! I got to work with musicians I like this evening, including: David Kaynor (fiddle), Debby Knight (piano), Jack O’Connor (mandolin, banjo, percussion) & Cal Howard (bass).

My called program:

  • Broken Transcription – Don Veino
  • Get Me Going – Lisa Greenleaf
  • Another Flirty Attempt – Marian Hepburn
  • Further and More – Lisa Greenleaf
  • Amy’s Harmonium – Cary Ravitz
  • The Raeden Reel – Bob Isaacs
    –Break–
  • All You Can Eat – Ted Crane
  • Sweet Music – Amy Kahn
  • Small Potatoes – Jim Kitch
  • Nail That Catfish To The Tree – Walter Davies [+Bob Dalsemer]
  • Winter in Summerland – Jeff Spero
  • You’re Among Friends – Bob Isaacs
  • Night Sail – Rick Mohr

There were no significant bobbles or issues with my calling this evening and I got great feedback including some suggestions for more improvement (and many straight compliments, always appreciated!). Got one request to call (prompt) less, but that individual was dancing in a line that wasn’t experiencing the challenges showing in another line which drove me to keep calling. Was able to record most of the evening to review for my own education, may post some excerpts to YouTube later. Looking forward to my next gig!

Gardner Contra Dance 11/24/2012

A fun dance! The crowd was filled with a large proportion of first time dancers, so I significantly revised my planned program below. As I did that on the fly and spent a lot of time down on the floor with the dancers, I didn’t end up capturing my “as called” program which I believe totaled 7 dances. Regardless, this was a fun test of my calling and band communication skills and an informative experience. And the snacks and people were great! Thanks for the opportunity and a great time, Gardner dancers!

Planned Program:

  • Broken Transcription – Don Veino
  • Get Me Going – Lisa Greenleaf
  • Another Flirty Attempt – Marian Hepburn
  • Further and More – Lisa Greenleaf
  • Amy’s Harmonium – Cary Ravitz
  • Night Sail – Rick Mohr
    –Break–
  • Sweet Music – Amy Kahn
  • Winter in Summerland – Jeff Spero
  • Nail That Catfish To The Tree – Walter Davies [+Bob Dalsemer]
  • Small Potatoes – Jim Kitch
  • All You Can Eat – Ted Crane
  • You’re Among Friends – Bob Isaacs

Sweet Scent of Sage – Contra Dance

I’ve been toying with a very partner-centric dance I’ve named for my wife
Sage. Below is the original (successfully tried) and two new variations I
hope to try out soon.

The AFAIK unique A1 Mad Robin to A2 slide left transition I originally had
as a slide on the left diagonal to diagonal waves, but it proved nearly
impossible to teach without a demo. The revised dance achieves effectively
the same result with more familiar calls to make for a more conventional
walk-thru. The variations try to further improve call familiarity by
omitting the “hook”.

Thanks to Lynn Ackerson for pointing out there being a shadow in the wave.

Here’s the dance: Sweet Scent of Sage.

Concord Monday Contras 9/3/2012

This post is one of a series documenting my hobby of calling (leading) Contra dancing, building off of my original post on this topic.

This dance evening marked my first “full evening” calling debut at the famous Concord, MA Scout House. I was excited to have the opportunity to call at this venue and to work with the excellent musicians playing: Mia Friedman (fiddle), Ariel Friedman (cello), Bethany Waickman (guitar), Jack O’Connor (mandolin, banjo, percussion).

My dance program as called for the evening consisted of:

  • Broken Transcription – Don Veino
  • Get Me Going – Lisa Greenleaf
  • Butter – Gene Hubert
  • Coconut Cream Pie – Lynn Ackerson
  • Further and More – Lisa Greenleaf
  • Winter in Summerland – Jeff Spero
  • Amy’s Harmonium – Cary Ravitz
  • Sweet Scent of Sage – Don Veino
    –Break–
  • Sweet Music – Amy Kahn
  • Special Delivery – Nell Wright
  • All You Can Eat – Ted Crane
  • The Baby Rose – David Kaynor

I had deliberately planned to start the evening with easy material that still presented fun dancing. The first five dances went very well – quick teaching and smooth dancing to wonderful music. Coconut Cream Pie (by a caller friend in California) was my first time calling a Four-Facing-Four dance and it went off well. BTW, I highly recommend this dance as it is very robust and works even if partner roles get mixed up.

My sixth dance selection, Winter in Summerland, is a great Becket dance which I’d mistakenly noted as having previously called successfully (so had not diagrammed it for this gig). My card had a (minor, positions swapped) error in it found during the walk-through. Believing my notes, I was convinced I’d made a walk-thru error and tried it again and became flustered enough by that to not spot the fix in the moment. Luckily, I had thought through this possibility and had selected several recovery dances. So I pulled out a Becket recovery dance, Amy’s Harmonium, and that went smoothly – albeit after time wasted for a second dance’s walk-through.

My final dance of the first half, Sweet Scent of Sage, was my new composition honoring my wife – who was in the crowd with my daughter. This was its first public performance. I had worked out carefully how to teach it. However, I probably should not have tried calling it for this evening – the dance has an unusual transition from a Mad Robin move, and another move I’d planned to use Winter in Summerland to teach previously. As a result, my teaching took longer than expected and again I got a bit flustered and forgot that I could/should have got down to the floor to do a demo the first time through. I did get onto the floor to straighten out some misalignment during the second walk-through, but it was still feeling a little rough and we were late moving to the break. So I made a decision to drop the dance and move on to the waltz. Well the crowd wouldn’t have it – they wanted to do it! So we did, and several folks later told me how much they’d enjoyed dancing this partner-centric dance. Among my takeaways, I now have a standing reminder on my card holder: “Will a demo teach better?”.

The first dance of the second half went well. The second dance, Special Delivery, is one I’ve called several times before without issue. The dance has two diagonal moves with a shadow which proved to disorient two couples in one of the lines this evening. I got down to the floor to try to help them get back on track. However, another couple (experienced dancers both) apparently got frustrated when they encountered this and just walked off the floor. This further complicated the situation such that there was nothing I could do to fix it but end that dance a bit short.

The balance of the evening went smoothly – two sure-fire dances which always please dancers.

I’d requested dancer feedback comments and put out a notebook for anonymous input. I received several helpful inputs that way and via face to face chats. Also heard that folks appreciated my programming different/unusual dances. Some wonderful learning that I’ll do my best to apply going forward. Thanks to those that made the effort to share their thoughts with me!

Contra Dance Calling Log

Update 1/1/2019: This post is no longer maintained and now well out of date as I’ve been calling and leading dancing regularly for over a decade now. I lead contra dances at regular series about New England and also in several other states. I also do special events/festivals and private Barn Dance events for schools, scouting groups, churches, social groups, etc. Please see my calling page for more information.


Continue reading Contra Dance Calling Log

Fezziwig’s Ball

SB and I had the opportunity to attend this Commonwealth Vintage Dancers’ event held in the historic Old Town Hall in Salem, MA.

While we couldn’t even be classed in the same league with many of the attendees for their garb, I think we looked pretty spiffy nonetheless! Quite an event, sadly curtailed due to a snow emergency’s parking ban that evening. There was an individual playing the part of Fezziwig that was outstanding. The venue was nice and the opportunity to stroll the streets of the historic area singing Christmas carols while in a crowd festooned with such frills was a treat.

Pop Goes the Weasel
Pop Goes the Weasel
"Gothic" dance
Gothic dance
We two
We two

What Ho, Bertie?

SB has been talking about trying English Country Dance ever since she had her “amazing Money Musk moment” (paper craneshumans) at a contra dance at Pinweoods camp a while back.  So we went to check it out this evening, as we were free and our friend Sue Rosen was leading the dance program at the West Newton dance.  (And after cramming in a quick run to the Blue Ribbon across the street to grab dinner).

There is a lot of shared info/skills between ECD and contra dancing (contra is partly sourced from ECD), so we were able to fit in pretty quickly after learning the few unique moves.  Turns out we knew a fair number of folks attending from other venues as well.

I still prefer contra (there is an energy and exuberant friendliness that I particularly enjoy) but I can definitely see the draw for those that love English.  I expect this will become yet another part of our ongoing dance adventures now.

Here’s SB doing her typically graceful bit in a dance (the start button in the middle of the video is pointing right at her):