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.

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

(~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)

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

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:
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

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!

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! 😉

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

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

Gents Swing (in the center)**
Partner Swing

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
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”).

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

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

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)

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
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:

Neighbor Balance & Swing

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)

Partner Dosido (or whatever) & Swing

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.