Many years ago, our local Revels North mounted a Scandinavian-themed show that featured Norwegian dancing. In one particularly lovely moment, a male dancer led two women, one in each hand, through a Telespringar. I watched, entranced, as the dancers formed a kaleidoscope of motion, whirling, spinning, twirling, weaving in and around and over and under, …

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All You Ever Need To Know About Relationships Can Be Learned in a Dance Class

This list comes from a group that’s far removed from the country dance world—”bop” is an inclusive term for related couple dances including swing, lindy, jitterbug, and shag—but it’s fascinating how so many of the guidelines offered here apply to contras, squares, or English country dance.

Published by American Bop Association in November, 2003 Newsletter

  1. Lead her GENTLY and she’ll follow you anywhere. (For every ACTION there is an equal and opposite REACTION.)

  2. Never CRITICIZE YOUR DANCE PARTNER. The only person you can even consider fixing is YOU. (The person who is responsible for making the adjustment is the one who knows an adjustment is needed.)

  3. A lead is an INDICATION of some desired direction. (It’s a SUGGESTION, not DEMAND.)

Group photo 2

A Night to Remember

Wow! What an evening THAT was! Northern Spy finished our monthly series with a gala 35th anniversary party on November 14, 2015. Tracy Hall was packed on Saturday night, as a large crowd turned out to celebrate the end of our dances. Included in the mix were eight former members of the band, and many, …

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Fisher’s Hornpipe – Four Hands!

Wonderful piece of piano wizardry, captured by Doug Plummer and his iPhone: it’s musicians Aaron Marcus and Julie Vallimont jamming on the classic Fisher’s Hornpipe, four hands on one piano. Enjoy!

Good Contra and Square Dancing Defined

I recently came upon a well-written and decidedly opinionated piece about good dancing. Since the opinions reflect much of my own thinking on the subject, I’d like to draw your attention to it. Written some twenty years ago by a respected caller of contras and squares, a choreographer (“Al’s Advice” is a classic contra written by Paul) and a fiddler (Volo Bogtrotters), the article presents six concise points.

“A good dancer has complete awareness of how it all fits together: the music, the calls, the figures, his/her partner, neighbor, corner, opposites, etc., the whole set, the whole floor, and, maybe most importantly, his/her own body and all its parts. There are lots of things that the good dancer does that are seemingly unknown or totally unimaginable to many twirl and barf dancers.”

Planning a Program

Planning a Program

While clearing out some files from an old computer, I recently came across this piece published in the CDSS News, #157, November/December 2000, under the title “Contra Calling.” I tried to outline the sorts of decisions—choreographic and musical—that a caller makes behind the scenes. One of my programs today might include different dances, but the process I go through, 15 years later, is much the same.

Inside the Caller’s Mind

Planning an Evening’s Contra Dance Program
by David Millstone

Planning a program of dances involves more than just picking dance cards at random. An evening of contra dancing is a expression of a caller’s vision brought into focus by a sponsor’s expectations. How do you plan an evening for a public dance which will include a mixture of beginners and experienced dancers? What are the questions that the caller must ask when working with an unfamiliar group? Here’s the process I went through in planning an evening program this summer for the Round Hill Country Dancers in Greenwich, CT, a venue where I had neither danced nor called before.

Videotaping dances

A friend recently forwarded comments from the English country dance listserv; people were talking about videotaping dances so that others could see how dances work. I passed along these comments: I want to emphasize what most people on this list already know, that it’s much more fun to dance than it is to stand behind …

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Soul Pancake

Surprise! The curmudgeon is having a cheery moment… Looking for a brief something to put you in a better mood? Add a little Soul Pancake to your day. A friend from Pourparler send a note around to others in the group: “Why WALK when you can DANCE?” That put a smile on my face, so …

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