Hi Andrea,

              Absolutely.  All moves should be taught explicitly as not a grip.


              Amazing! There is always something new to learn.  I have been 
dancing the cupped elbow hold for over 50 years, and taught it to literally 
thousands of dancers. I have never heard about there being a challenge 
regarding bust contact.  I checked with my wife and she has never encountered 
it either.


              Just to clarify: I was not suggesting in any way that either 
forearm hold should be used in modern American contra dancing.  I was just 
clarifying the various version of the move in response to someone’s query about 
what the hold is.


              The cupped elbow hold definitely has its place in various parts 
of the wonderful spectrum of traditional/folk/country/contra dancing.


              I would only ever suggest it as an option in contra dancing if 
someone had an injury and didn’t want to use the standard contra Allemande 
hold.  It could also be offered in self-defence, instead of the fist-to-fist 
“hold”, when encountering someone in the line that you know is likely to hurt 


              The standard contra Allemande hold is undoubtedly here to stay.  
It is by far the best option for moves like Rory O’More and Swing Thru, and it 
is established across the world as the way to do a modern American contra dance 


              So, all we can try to do is improve people’s technique.


              Quite often a new caller will learn how to call a dance,  get up 
in front of an experienced crowd, walk through the dance calling the moves, 
then call the dance, calling all the right words at the right time, and relying 
on the experienced dancers to help the beginners through the dance.  The dance 
works. The caller will then consider themself to be a contra dance caller, 
without ever having actually taught anything at all.


              In the UK the EFDSS changed the name of the person holding the 
microphone from “teacher” to “caller” some time in the 1950s.


              I feel that very few modern callers realise that teaching is part 
of the job.


              We callers are the only ones who can improve the dancers’ 
technique.  I just wish that all callers realised this and took responsibility 
for it.  It only takes a few seconds during each walk-through to drop a pearl 
of wisdom into the mix.   It doesn’t take long to say one of these:


Allemande: It’s not arm-wrestling - if your hand moves towards you, you lose!


Allemande: Make a good connection then relax - your muscles are for fighting 
centrifugal force, not your partner.


Allemande 1.5: Keep your hands mid-way between you with nice W-shaped arms and 
take bigger steps.


Circle Left 3/4; Pass Through: It’s six steps for the circle and two to pass 
through - don’t be late for your new neighbour.


Swing: Plan the end of the move so your are both facing the right way on time.

Wrist-Lock Stars: Make sure your thumb is on top with your fingers so that you 
can’t grip.




              I have often though of putting a poster at the door saying, 
“Leave your thumbs at the door!”


              Maybe we could all share our favourite teaching phrases and make 
a database of them to encourage all callers to do some teaching.


            Happy dancing,                          



John Sweeney, Dancer, England   j...@modernjive.com 01233 625 362 & 07802 940 

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


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