Sunday, January 27, 2013

Who's in the Spotlight?

Sometimes people become contra dance callers because they like the spotlight.  They like being on a stage with a microphone and everyone looking at them.  They like telling a room full of people what to do and having those people obey.  (They certainly don't do it for the money!!)

Sometimes those callers end up overshadowing the rest of the community.  They talk so much that they distract from the band or distract from the dancers' ability to enjoy each other and the music. 

I've been thinking lately about the place of the caller in the community.  When I am walking the dancers through the dance, I am in the "spotlight" and that is appropriate.  I have just a couple of minutes to teach the dance as succinctly and clearly as I can and hopefully they listen at least enough that the calls make sense once the music begins. 

When the  music begins, I am no longer in the spotlight.  The band and the music and the other dancers are in the spotlight.  I am simply there to direct traffic the first couple of times through the dance.  If the dancers need prompts beyond that, I want them to be as minimal as possible.  Ideally, I can drop out altogether and let the magic happen. 

It's tempting to be controlling.  But truly, the caller is just one cog in the mighty community of contra dancing.  No more important, or no less important than the other elements.  The magic is made by the community, not by any individual. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Catapult Showcase! Here I Come!

This is me all excited because I was selected to be one of the callers at the Catapult! Showcase.
Catapult! Showcase is the brainchild of Rob Harper, Atlanta dancer and organizer who thought the contra dance world needs a way to promote new talent to the national scene. Callers and bands apply to Catapult where a team of reviewers narrows the field to six bands and six callers who will be the talent for this four-day Memorial day weekend event. 
This is the second year for Catapult!  Last year I was one of the reviewers for callers which was a great experience and introduced me to lots of interesting folks all over the country.  This year I told Rob I couldn't be a reviewer because I wanted to try my hand at being one of the callers and was thrilled to get the word last week that I was selected.
I'll be paired with two of the bands for two different calling opportunities - one 2 hour evening slot and one 1.5 hour daytime slot.  I'll also be leading an afternoon workshop.  My plan is to hold a workshop on leading an introductory session and strategies to make your dance community more welcoming to beginners.
If you're looking for fresh new talent for your local dance event, or if you just want to dance to the newest bands and callers out there, register for Catapult!  And then introduce yourself at the event.