Monday, May 7, 2018

These are the Hands . . .

I was honored to be one of the callers for the wedding of Jennifer Mueller and Richard Mathews on May 5, 2018. These fabulous dancers wanted to celebrate their special day dancing with their friends and family, so they brought in "Notorious," who can easily play both English Country Dance tunes and Contra Dance Tunes. I called the Contra Dances and Randy Thorp and Annette Merritt called the ECD, alternating between the dance forms all day.

I was expecting that there would be some dancers who turned up their noses at the dances that weren't their "preferred" dance form. I have to admit that I was one of those dancers not so long ago, but I was pleased to see everyone happily dancing all the dances. It could be that Gainesville is just a fabulous dance community that loves to dance to any and all (yes, it's true!). But I'm hoping that there are just more people in general who are open to trying new dance styles and haven't decided that "ECD is stuffy," or "Contra is raunchy." After the wedding dance, there were calls from many of the dancers to do this more often. We're looking into how to make that happen.

Jennifer and Rich are examples of dancers who love it all and dance it all. In their honor, I wrote a contra dance with an "Englishy" feel. The name of the dance came from the hand-fasting ceremony in their wedding. Each sentence in that ceremony began with "These are the Hands . . ."

These are the Hands
JoLaine Jones-Pokorney

A1 - Couples Do-si-Do around Neighbors 1 1/2 to trade places. With NEXT neighbors, Circle R (1/2)
A2 - Continue Circle R to finish where you started. Turn around and swing original Neighbor.
B1 - Down the Hall 4-in line. (2s are in the middle, 1s are on each end.) 2s cast while the 1s lead up, 2s fall in behind the 1s to come up the hall as couples, 1s in front, 2s following.
B2 - 1s Cast just far enough to handy-hand allemande with Neighbor 1 1/2, 1s Swing in the middle

END EFFECTS: At the top and bottom, when your neighbors leave you momentarily to Circle R with their next neighbors, Do not trade places with your partner. Your neighbors will expect you to be right where they left you.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

If You Stumble, Make it Part of the Dance!

You're calling a community dance. You've presented a fabulous introductory workshop for the two beginners who came early. Those two are integrating well and seem to be having fun. Three or four dances into the evening, you notice that there are quite a few people who are having a hard time. More folks have come in who have obviously never danced before, but on top of that, there are mobility limitations. These people are lost, AND they can't move quickly enough to keep up with the other dancers.

I had this experience recently and I realized I didn't know what to do with that situation. If they had simply been inexperienced dancers, I would have pulled out a circle mixer or other super simple dance to help them feel successful and integrate them into the group. But in this situation, my foggy brain balked. "What can I call that will allow them to be successful?" I drew a blank.

So I came home and called my buddy Seth Tepfer to talk it out. It was very helpful to think about which moves can be more accessible to people who move slowly:

  • Moves where you are connected to other people
    • Long Lines Forward and Back
    • Simple Down the Hall
    • Circles
    • Promenade
  • Moves that can be left out or shortened without affecting the dance
    • Allemande 1 1/2 changed to Allemande 1/2
    • Petronellas can be a simple circle to the right one place instead of twirling.
What moves would be more difficult for people with mobility limtations?

  • Heys
  • Do-si-Do (though that could easily be turned into a 2-hand turn or an allemande)
  • Stars  (possibility of tripping)
  • CA Twirl, Box the Gnat, etc., (easy to get off-balance)
I promised Seth I would create a list of dances that I could call on when this happens again. Below are a few of the dances I found:

Circle Dances for Limited Mobility:

Clouds of Incense - Maia McCormick

Circle Mixer
A1 Into the Middle and Back x2
A2 Partner Allemande R 1 1/2 (or 1/2); Neighbor Allemande L
B1 Partner Balance and Swing
B2 Promenade the Ring, Ladies turn back and Swing the Gent Behind

La Bastrangue - Traditional

Circle Mixer
A1 Circle L; Circle R
A2 Into the Middle and Back x2
B1 Partner Allemande R; Right and Left Grand
B2 Promenade #4

Contra Dances for Limited Mobility:

Kinematic Vorticity - Carol Ormond

A1 Long Lines Forward and Back; 2s Gate the 1s
A2 Down the Hall, Turn Alone to Return
B1 Circle L 3/4; Partner Swing
B2 Circle L 3/4; Neighbor Swing

The Gang of Four - Gene Hubert

A1 Circle L 3/4; Neighbor Swing
A2 Neighbor Promenade the Full Set; Ladies Turn Back and Swing the Next Gent
B1 Full Set Circle back to Partner; Long Lines Forward and Back
B2 Ladies Allemande Right 1 1/2 (or 1/2); Partner Swing

Pooh Bear's Holiday - Robert Cromartie

A1 Long Lines Forward and Back; Neighbor Allemande R, Ladies cross
A2 Partner Balance and Swing
B1 Down the Hall, turn as a couple (wheel around instead of twirl); Return
B2 Circle L 3/4; Neighbor Swing

Lady of the Lake - Larry Jennings

A1 Neighbor Balance and Swing
A2 1s Balance and Swing
B1 Down the Hall, turn alone to return, 2s cast the 1s
B2 Ladies Chain x2