How To Be A Well-Known Dancer

During this time of social distancing, I thought it might be helpful to provide some food for thought so that when we all return to the dance floor, we’ll be able to up our game.

Dolphin Hey – Everything You Wanted to Know, and Then Some!

Dance historian Allison Thompson and I had been independently researching the “dolphin hey,” a figure that in recent decades migrated from Scottish country dance to English country dance and thence into contras. We combined our articles and came up with what is almost certainly the definitive story, including more than most mortals will care about. …

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Becoming a Better Dancer

Becoming a Better Dancer (This post is aimed articularly at English country dancers, but contra and square dance enthusiasts may also find food for thought.) One of the challenges that callers face is that of teaching style to dancers. Note: by “style” I’m not talking about the over-the-top mannerisms that some dancers affect. Rather I’m thinking of moving gracefully, with ease …

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The Sleepwalker

Midwinter blues or post-holiday blahs got you feeling down? Here’s a cure that’ll bring you back from the doldrums. This short piece of colorful animation is based on a poem by Federico García Lorca; the images are what might result if Salvador Dali, Joan Miró and Paul Klee collaborated after a wild night of dancing …

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International Money Musk Moment – 2009

In sorting through some old files recently, I found this account of the International Money Musk Moment that David Smukler and I instigated in 2009. It just might be of interest. Here’s the tune:


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.)