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: callers@lists.sharedweight.net <mailto:callers@lists.sharedweight.net> 
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

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