Hi Lenore, I think part of the challenge with contra is that there is so little teaching done at dances. Technique is very rarely taught; people are just supposed to pick it all up as they go along. As a result people who can get through challenging dances consider themselves “advanced” while still having no basic dancing skills.
One of the most frustrating sequences for me is “Men Allemande Left 1.5; Neighbour Swing”. I like to spin out of the Allemande into my Neighbour’s arms for the Swing. But no-one ever teaches Allemande technique and very few dancers do it well (the ladies tend to be much better than the men). I get offered all sorts of strange hand positions; the dancers put their arms at strange angles which prevent you disengaging smoothly; many of the dancers seem to think that they are arm-wrestling instead of dancing; some of them have misunderstood the term “give weight” and lean away strongly so that I have to devote myself to stopping them from falling over (very tiring!); and, possibly as a result of all this poor connection, they don’t move fast enough - their steps are too small. All of this means that getting around 1.5 times takes too long and there is no time to add a spin out of the Allemande. You can’t build on shifting sands. Whenever I teach a Swing Variations workshop I always start by going over the basics of a good swing. It’s amazing how many people afterwards thank me and say they hadn’t realised that they could improve their basic swing. See http://contrafusion.co.uk/Contra.html#swinging for details. You may also find some ideas you can use at http://contrafusion.co.uk/Contra.html#connection. For improving technique in twirls (e.g. in and out of swings, and multiple twirls in a Ladies’ Chains), see http://modernjive.com/history/tension.html. Although this article was written for a different dance style, the technique points apply equally well to contra twirls. Note: this article refers to Lead & Follow which is not a fundamental part of contra dance. However, for many flourishes the Lead & Follow principles apply for the duration of that flourish. Some flourishes that can be done easily by yourself are: Spin into a Tidal Wave (long wavy line) Twirl yourself going from Up The Hall in Lines of Four into a Circle Left Spin yourself out of Allemandes - great fun if you can do all four in a Contra Corners Do something on beat four of Long Lines Go Forward & Back: shimmy, stamp, hip bump the opposite person (if you know them well), bow… I hope some of that helps. Happy dancing, John John Sweeney, Dancer, England j...@modernjive.com <mailto:j...@modernjive.com> 01233 625 362 & 07802 940 574 http://contrafusion.co.uk/KentCeilidhs.html for Live Music Ceilidhs http://www.contrafusion.co.uk for Dancing in Kent http://www.modernjive.com for Modern Jive DVDs From: Callers <callers-boun...@lists.sharedweight.net <mailto:callers-boun...@lists.sharedweight.net> > On Behalf Of Lenore Frigo via Callers Sent: 26 April 2019 22:45 To: email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: [Callers] Easy flourishes or other "bonus" movements? I would like to teach some of my more advanced dancers some flourishes or other embellishments to contra dance. I'd like to start with things that are easy and obviously that can be smoothly integrated into a dance. Simpler is better and I am especially looking for "extras" that can be done singly rather than within a couple. For example, simply twirling during a do-si-do, or little "meanwhile" things you can do while waiting out as your partner allemandes with their diagonal. I've found some YouTube videos, but they tend to be for more elaborate technique than I am interested in introducing at this time. Thanks for any thoughts, tips, support, or warnings! :) Lenore Frigo
_______________________________________________ List Name: Callers mailing list List Address: Callers@lists.sharedweight.net Archives: https://email@example.com/