CONTRALAB
The International Association of Contra Callers, Inc.
Updated June 10, 2014

Home

About CONTRALAB

Membership

Calendar

CONTRALAB Quarterly

Energizer Dance pictures
NSDC-Detroit pictures
NSDC-Oklahoma City pictures

Definitions

Contra Moves & Timing

Links

Excerpts

Chairman’s Corner (Spring 2014)
        We’re looking forward to the CONTRALAB Convention in Little Rock, AR, this summer.  We hope that many of you will be there.  It’s just before the National Square Dance Convention. Details for our Trail In Energizer Dance and CONTRALAB Convention will be sent out to you by email soon.

        This issue also contains more quotes from the 1890’s book with old time dances.  Looking through it, I sometimes wonder if we are “re-inventing the wheel” as we create new dances.

        Some of you may be asked to call easy contras or dances for people new to the contra scene.  Of course you would like their experience to be enjoyable, so you search for dances that will be comfortable for them and not make them too dizzy (a complaint I sometimes hear).  Some of the dances in this issue just might suit your purpose.  Be sure to pair the dances with the best well-phrased music you can find.  Sometimes that could be music from a square dance singing call.  Of course, then, that would only be seven times through the sequence; but that may be enough time for them to get a good feel for contra dancing.  If they have struggled with it for most of the music but finally seem to catch on towards the end, then offer to play it again or reset the needle on the record (if you use records).

        It’s very interesting to use different rhythms to the same dances.  I love watching the dancers’ reactions to different sounds.  And, I’m not just talking about contra dances – it’s the same with square dances.  As Mona Cannell said “Music is the Master!”.  That’s where live music has it over recorded music.  The dancers enjoy the realistic sounds from the instruments.  That’s why the recorded music has to have a very good sound to make up for that.

        Each band seems to have their own flavor or sound to them.  It's very interesting that they can play some of the same tunes, and yet sound different from each other.  Probably a lot of it has to do with different instruments being used; but some of it is style and emphasis.  I appreciate the years of practice and the effort the musicians bring to a dance, especially since I play a few instruments, but only for my own pleasure and definitely not well enough for the public.  So, here's to the band!  We thank them all.

       We welcome all comments about any of the articles in our Quarterly; and are eagerly waiting to print your articles and dances.      

       Don’t forget to visit our web site at http://www.contralab.net/   If you have information or links that you think should be included, please get that information to me.

 

Alternate Duples that begin facing Up and Down

By Dottie Welch, Nova Scotia

 

When selecting contras for use with new contra dancers consider the following:

1) Square dancers will be most comfortable when partners are side-by-side.  This is the case for Alternate Duples that begin facing up and down.   

2) Forgiving calls or combinations such as “Long Lines Forward and Back” or “Circle Left followed by Circle Right” provide catch-up time if needed. 

3) Swings often cause dizziness and disorientation for new contra dancers.  Consider using dances without swings until the dancers are comfortable with the new contra formations and progression. 

 

Here are some dances written or chosen with these factors in mind:

 

Waskesiu River Walleye

By Dottie Welch, 2012 August 21, Prince Albert National Park

Formation: Alternate Duple, Begin facing up and down

- - - - , - (new) Ladies Dosado

- - - - , - - Gents Dosado

- - - - , - - Circle Left

- - - - , - - Circle Right

Lady 1 pull out to a Line, - Four Go Down

- - - - , Turn Alone, Come Back

- - - - , Bend and Circle Left 3/4

- - - - , Balance all four and (individually) U-Turn Back

 

Wedding Rings

By Dottie Welch, for Groves' Wedding September 2010

Formation: Alternate Duple, Begin facing up and down

- - - - , - - Circle Left

- - - - , - - Circle Right

- - - - , - - Ladies Dosado

- - - - , - - Gents Dosado

- - - - , Facing Up Split 2, Separate around 1 to Line
- - - - , Line of four go Down 8 steps
- - - - , - Lines Backup 4 steps
- - - - , Centers Arch, Ends Dive Thru

 

 

 

(Excerpts above were from the CONTRALAB Quarterly Spring 2014 issue.  Much more to be found in the Quarterly available to members.)