·  Highly-Sought Partners (and how to become one), 
    or Contra Dance Style

·  Finding Weight in Hidden Places

·  Contra Flourishes

·  Gender Role-Free Dancing

·  Inter-Generational Dancing, or the Family Dance

·  Wicked Contras

·  Crooked Contras

·  New England Chestnuts

·  Cardinal Collection Contras

·  Yankee Dutch Crossing

English Country Dance

·    English as a Second Language

·    English for Everyone

·    Modern English

·    Experienced English

·    English Dances from the Goldcrest Collection

·    Dutch Crossing

Calling & Leading

·    Contra Calling 101 -- application

·    Beyond the Basics -- theory

·    Language Choices for Contra Callers

·    English Leading 101

Singing -- lead by Fred Todt

·    Shapenote Singing from the Sacred Harp

·    Rounds

Highly-Sought Partners (and how to become one),
       or Contra Dance Style

Ever wondered why some dancers are highly-sought as partners?  It probably has more to do with their good swing than their good looks.  Raise your dance consciousness and become more attentive to partners and neighbors and their needs -- and keep 'em coming back for more!  Exciting, comfortable and safe swings, allemandes, chains, and twirls; sharing weight; and negotiating happy flourishes.

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Finding Weight in Hidden Places

This workshop for intermediate to advanced dancers focuses on particular figures which have great potential for sharing really satisfying weight.  Many dancers regularly miss these opportunities, though, perhaps because they've never had the chance to learn about it.  Rory O'More slides, Petronella turns, contra corners, and the transition between a star promenade and a butterfly whirl are great experiences just waiting to be had.  

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Contra Flourishes

We start with the basics: moving with the music and being on time, knowing the figures, and being attentive to and caring of the people you're dancing with; then talk about adding flourishes as icing if you're set with the cake.  These flourishes rely on shared weight, so we focus there -- all with a sense of humor and in the context of dances.

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Gender Role-Free Dancing

Using armbands to distinguish the traditional men's and women's roles liberates dancers from gender-specified dance roles and increases the number of potential partners.  Try a new role and discover how the other half lives.  Gender-free contras provide a welcome space for LGBT dancers and intergenerational groups -- and make for a bigger and brighter dance world.  

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Inter-Generational Dancing, or the Family Dance

What better way for people of different ages and generations to enjoy spending time together?  How better for a dance community to invest in its future?  Smalls enjoy the company of talls, talls feel like smalls again, a new generation discovers the joys of dancing, and everybody wins.  Time-tested and parent-approved play-party games and community dances provide fun for all.

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Wicked Contras

Wicked cool contras with mind-boggling edges to challenge the most hardy dancers in the most delightful way. Not for the faint of heart.

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Crooked Contras

Most of the contras we do these days match 32-bar tunes, often called "square tunes."  Any musician will tell you there are lots of "crooked" tunes, too -- those with a different number of bars.  For a good number of these crooked tunes, there are cool crooked contras, especially enjoyed by dancers who like to think out of the box.  

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New England Chestnuts

Many dancers have heard, "as in Petronella" or "as in Rory O'More," but not nearly as many have done the original classics, perhaps because they no longer fit our modern dance sensibilities of everyone moving all the time.  But these dances, with their original tunes, still pack an exciting punch.  Possibilities include Petronella, Rory O'More, Hull's Victory, Chorus Jig, Sacketts Harbor, the Road to Californy, and Lady of the Lake.

If there's time and interest, we might also do modern variants like "Hull's Fantasy" and "Almost Sacketts Harbor" to help get the 2's (and 3's) more active.

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Cardinal Collection Contras

Joseph's own dances, drawn from his first dance book, The Cardinal Collection.  Possible dances include:  Flapjack Express, Oh Geez!, Power Pass, and Ramsay Chase, among others.

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English as a Second Language

For those who already love contra dancing, but aren't yet English fans. Coming from just that place, we draw generously from the joys of contras while gradually introducing the secrets that make English so exciting. Forget stuffy and boring -- these dances are driving, flirty, and full of cool connections with partners, neighbors, and others. A frequent reaction to this workshop is, "I've never really liked English country dancing before, but this was really fun!" Assumes some contra dance experience -- and those who already love English are welcome, too!

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English for Everyone

Accessible English country dances for those who already love them and those who soon will.

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Modern English

Join in a celebration of this living tradition, exploring English dances written by modern composers including Gary Roodman, Philippe Callens, and Fried de Metz Herman, among others. Many of these dances have already become favorites around the US, and many commemorate people and experiences familiar to our own dance community. The focus is dancing -- and lots of it -- with just enough background and styling to help bring personal connections to the dance. For everyone.

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Experienced English

Classic and modern dances for experienced dancers, with a variety of formations and time signatures.  Familiar favorites with minimal (or no) teaching, and more complex dances to treat old hands.

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English Dances from the Goldcrest Collection

Joseph's own dances, drawn from his second dance book, The Goldcrest Collection  Possible dances include:  The Treasure of the Big Woods, Mile of Smiles, Mr. Millstone’s Inauguration, and Westaire Court, among others.

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Dutch Crossing, and Yankee Dutch Crossing

This very cool eight-couple dance makes for a bonding experience as everyone cooperates intensively to get the carnival-ride buzz.  The original "Dutch Crossing" was written as an English country dance by Ernst van Brakel of the Netherlands.  Joseph's "Yankee Dutch Crossing" version includes a balance & swing for extra contra dance satisfaction.  Figure on an hour or so for learning and dancing.

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Contra Calling 101 -- application

We look at the various roles of the caller, then focus on prompting (placing calls with the music). We all call together as we dance, and then those who want to try calling a dance of their own have an opportunity. The primary goal is to build skills and confidence so that participants can work on their own and call at open mic dances when they have a chance to do that.  A supportive and encouraging atmosphere stacks the deck so everyone is successful.

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Beyond the Basics -- theory

For those with some experience at open mics and local dances, we think about effective ways to choose and teach dances, program an evening, attend to the musicians and their music, and provide a good time for all.  What do dancers expect and how to deliver that?  Where do you want to lead dancers and how do you encourage them to follow?  We talk about the many pieces and how to put them together to make everyone happy.

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Language Choices for Contra Callers

Linguists know that how we say something conveys as much as what we say.  For callers, this means reconciling traditional phrases with modern sensibilities.  Which do we favor and how will it affect dancers?  There's not a right and a wrong way, and many different styles are equally effective.  Thoughtful consideration about the words you choose, though, will make you more comfortable and confident using them, and dancers will feel the difference in your words.  

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English Leading 101

After talking about the various roles of the dance leader, we look at the close connection between dances and their tunes, and how to convey that connection as we lead.  We dance a lot, and take turns prompting as we do.  If time allows, we also look at effective teaching for satisfying dancing.

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Shape Note Singing with Fred Todt

Powerful songs from The Sacred Harp, sung in four parts.  This style of singing, which has its roots in Revolutionary War-era New England, spread down the Appalachians during the 19th century, and flourished in the rural South.  Fred's comfortable confidence inspires singers throughout the Midwest, encouraging experienced and reluctant singers alike to raise their voices in boisterous and joyful song.

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Round Singing with Fred Todt

Great harmonies from familiar favorites and interesting novelty rounds.  Fred's strong voice, great selections, and gentle guidance quickly have everyone singing and smiling.

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This page last updated 8/25/14.
Washingont DC    yusuf at umich dot edu