Category Archives: Experimental

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

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

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.

Tale of the Tricky Triple Timer – DI – Don Veino 20170218

Type: Contra, Duple Improper
Status: DRAFT, EXPERIMENTAL

I’m still playing with this one a bit.

This dance features two “deconstructed” chains – one for each role. Regular chains with Courtesy Turn would be functionally equivalent and may be used instead, but I wanted to provide an opportunity for eye play and also to avoid the need to free hands out of the Courtesy Turn for the subsequent Balance. For related themes, see also my Dirty Rotten Double Crosser and Double Crossed Again! dances.

A1
Neighbor RH Balance, Square Through 2 (pull by N right, P left)
Neighbor Swing (on away side)

A2
Ladies Pull by Right, Walk Around* Left/CCW Partner to all face in
[this is effectively a Ladies Chain with an eye contact Courtesy Turn – encourage Partner eye connection through the Walk Around]
Neighbor across RH Balance, Square Through 2 (N right, P left)

B1
Shadow Balance and Box the Gnat/Pull by back to P [or Shadow’s choice, e.g.: Allemande Right, Walk Around*, etc.]
Partner Swing (on Gent’s home side)

B2
Gents Pull by Left, Walk Around* Right/CW Neighbor to all face in
[this is effectively a Gent’s (LH) Chain with an eye contact Courtesy Turn – encourage Neighbor eye connection through the Walk Around]
Partner across RH Balance, Square Through 2 (P right, N left) to next N up/down

*Walk Around is also known as Gypsy.

Seasons 8 – 4 Face 4 – Don Veino 20161204

Type: 4 Facing 4
Status: DRAFT, Experimental (Contra dancers doing a Pass the Sea?)
Tune suggestion: Thomas Shrug’s March

This is one of several of my dances in a series of “Oceans” and “Seasons” compositions which bring Ocean or Sea Waves into a 4 Facing 4 dance. It embeds a same role Hey in the center of the dance while the other role does a classic square dance (NOT Box) Circulate (called “Orbit” here for contra dancers).

I’ve NOT called or walked through this dance with dancers yet. Should you give it a go, please let me know.

A1
Give & Take (Up/Down), Lady take Neighbor Gent back and Swing

A2
(4,4) Pass the Sea* (Up/Down), Sea Wave Balance Fwd/Back
[NOTE all Ladies are on outside oval facing counter clockwise, Gents are inside facing CW]
(8) Simultaneously:
     Gents in center Half Hey (across – Gents facing center start passing LEFT)
*WHILE*
     Ladies Circulate 2 Places (wrap around ends) [I TEACH/CALL THIS AS AN ORBIT 1/2 to stay with more typical contra language for dancers]
[Form similar Ocean Waves aligned up/down with LEFT Hand to same G&T Neighbor]

B1
Wave Balance Left (toward N) & Right, Neighbor Swat the Flea
[alternate, likely to become preferred: Wave Balance Fwd/Back, Neighbor Allemande Left 1/2x]
Ladies Allemande Right 1+1/2 (to P)

B2
Partner Balance & Swing, end facing progression

*Pass the Sea is a reverse role/direction Pass The Ocean. Ladies walk to the far side, presenting left hand to the Gent they started next to, who has right hands in the center with the other Gent.

So why not the following A2? Because the Gents will arrive ~2 beats early at their spot and possibly overshoot it. This dance is not going to be called with a beginner crowd and, if the dancers can’t handle a Hey, you probably shouldn’t be calling this one.

A2
(4,4) Pass the Sea (Up/Down), Sea Wave Balance Fwd/Back
[NOTE all Ladies are on outside oval facing counter clockwise, Gents are inside facing CW]
(8) All Circulate 2 Places (wrap around ends, stay in role oval)
[Form similar Ocean Waves aligned up/down with LEFT Hand to same G&T Neighbor]

Seasons 4 – 4 Face 4 – Don Veino 20161204

Type: 4 Facing 4
Status: DRAFT, Experimental (Contra dancers doing a Pass the Sea?)
Tune suggestion: Thomas Shrug’s March

This is one of several of my dances in a series of “Oceans” and “Seasons” compositions which bring Ocean or Sea Waves into a 4 Facing 4 dance. It embeds a same role Hey in the center of the dance while the other role does a classic square dance (NOT Box) Circulate (called “Orbit” here for contra dancers).

I’ve NOT called or walked through this dance with dancers yet. Should you give it a go, please let me know.

A1
Give & Take (Up/Down), Gent take Neighbor Lady back and Swing

A2
(4,4) Pass the Sea* (Up/Down), Sea Wave Balance Fwd/Back
[NOTE all Ladies are on outside oval facing counter clockwise, Gents are inside facing CW]
(8) Simultaneously:
     Gents in center Half Hey (across – Gents facing center start passing LEFT)
*WHILE*
     Ladies Circulate 2 Places (wrap around ends) [I TEACH/CALL THIS AS AN ORBIT 1/2 to stay with more typical contra language for dancers]
[Form similar Ocean Waves aligned up/down with LEFT Hand to same G&T Neighbor]

B1
Rory Wave Balance Left (toward N) & Right, Twirl/Slide Left
Rory Wave Balance Right & Left, Twirl/Slide Right (Gents Super Twirl to P)

B2
Partner Balance & Swing, end facing progression

*Pass the Sea is a reverse role/direction Pass The Ocean. Ladies walk to the far side, presenting left hand to the Gent they started next to, who has right hands in the center with the other Gent.

So why not the following A2? Because the Gents will arrive ~2 beats early at their spot and possibly overshoot it. This dance is not going to be called with a beginner crowd and, if the dancers can’t handle a Hey, you probably shouldn’t be calling this one.

A2
(4,4) Pass the Sea (Up/Down), Sea Wave Balance Fwd/Back
[NOTE all Ladies are on outside oval facing counter clockwise, Gents are inside facing CW]
(8) All Circulate 2 Places (wrap around ends, stay in role oval)
[Form similar Ocean Waves aligned up/down with LEFT Hand to same G&T Neighbor]