Contra Dances by Mark Widmer
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Al & Mark's Quadruplet
Camp Harlam Reel
David K's Reel
This Dance Has No Name -- Never Had One, Never Will
arranged chronologically, most recent first:
Al & Mark's Quadruplet by Al Olson and Mark Widmer 4-couple contra line, improper
|Circle left once around|
|A2||Dip & dive: 1's arch, 2's duck under to start|
|After top couple reaches bottom of set and returns to #2 spot (facing up):|
|B1||Top foursome: circle left halfway, neighbor swing|
|Bottom foursome: neighbor balance & swing.|
|B2||Promenade across (with neighbor you swung)|
|Partner swing (in middle), end facing up or down to form 2 foursomes|
Comments: The dancers never wait out at the ends in this 4-couple dance, so it is well suited for when there are only 4 couples present in the dance hall. It is a variation I wrote of Al's Quadruplet #1 by Al Olson. In Al's dance, people alternate dancing with two of the other three couples but never dance with that third couple. In this variant, people get to dance with everybody else in the set.
It is desirable for the top couple to have an experienced dancer. I recommend asking the 8 dancers to elect a Captain amongst themselves, one who is experienced, assertive, and confident. While the dancers hold their "election", the caller may confer with the band on how many times through the dance they will go; some multiple of 3 is preferable, and we ran it 9 times through the first (only) time I have called it.
Once the dancers have chosen a captain, the captain and her/his partner should move to the top of the set to become the top couple. They will remain the top couple every time through the dance and can guide their foursome into the circle-left-halfway in B1, which may be an unexpected move for their neighbors.
A2 & B1:
A2. Start with the 1's (couple #'s 1 & 3) making an arch, and the 2's duck under the arch as a couple to advance one place up or down the line. Then the 2's arch while the 1's duck under. The pattern repeats, each couple alternating between arching and ducking. When out at the end, couples should turn as a couple, then take a cue from the dancers approaching them whether to arch or duck.
B1. The caller can watch for when the top couple has nearly reached position #2 (after making an arch in a temporary middle foursome), and call out the moves for B1. The call could be something along the lines of "bottoms balance, tops circle ... neighbor swing".
Trivia fact: Nils Fredland was Captain the first time this dance was called.
The progression: couple #1 (includes the captain) remains couple #1; couple #2 becomes couple #4 at the bottom; couple #'s 3 & 4 each move one place up, towards the top of the set.
David K's Reel by Mark Widmer duple, Becket
|A1||With partner, promenade across|
|A2||Women allemande right once around|
|B1||Long lines forward ...||4 beats|
|... and back up doing a neighbor roll-way with a
Men allemande right 3/4
Next man (along center line) allemande left 3/4
|B2||Partner balance & swing|
Described as "a roller coaster ride for the men", this is a tribute to two people named David K:
David Kaynor's presence at Ashokan dance camps over the years has been a true joy. His composition Mary Cay's Reel inspired the choreography for this dance.
David Keifer, a longtime attendee and volunteer at Princeton, NJ dances, retired and moved to the Finger Lakes region in August of 2008. This was first called at his going away contra dance bash.
When waiting out, looking up or down the set, the couple should get on the left side following the long lines (in B1), ready to promenade across.
For the roll-away in B1, the woman rolls from right to left. The man half-sashays to the right. Giving good weight here helps lead the men into the allemande sequence.
Newlyweds' Jig by Mark Widmer duple improper
|A1||Long lines forward & back|
|A2||Circle left 3/4|
|B1||Partner balance & swing|
|B2||Balance in a circle, petronella turn|
|Balance in a circle, neighbor roll-away w/ half sashay (along the set)|
Relatively straightforward yet quite different from other dances, this can easily fit into most callers' programs.
It was composed during the summer of 2002 while my wife and I were newlyweds. (I was going to call it Newlyweds' Reel until Chart Guthrie informed me that Ted Sannella wrote a dance by that name.)
The roll-away in B2 begins with the neighbor woman to the left of the man. The woman rolls to the right while the man half-sashays to the left.
Ross's Request by Mark Widmer duple improper, double progression
|A1||Neighbor balance and swing|
|A2||Long lines forward and back|
|1's swing, end facing down between new neighbors|
|B1||Down the hall four in line (1's between the 2's)||4 beats|
|Turn alone and make a cozy line||4 beats|
|Make a cloverleaf||4 beats|
|B2||Circle left in cloverleaf formation|
|Star left (and progress to new neighbors)|
Comments: During breaktime at a dance I was calling, Ross Harriss requested the dance that has a cozy-line-of-four which then morphs into a "cloverleaf" circle-of-four. Though I had danced it in the past, it was not in my calling repertoire and so I wrote and called this one instead. It is based somewhat on Don Armstrong's Broken Sixpence, with sufficient changes to warrant a new title and authorship.
Later research revealed that Ross's actual request was probably for either Fred Field's Symmetrical Force, or Triskaidekaphobia by Kirston Koths.
Here's a detailed description of the cozy line and cloverleaf moves:
Down the hall four in line (1's in center between the 2's).
Never letting go of any hands, 1's turn outward (to face the 2's) and then face up, backing under their joined hands, while the 2's turn in to face up. 2's join their free hands with each other behind the 1's.
Return in a cozy line of four.
To make the cloverleaf: 1's bend forward and 2's bring joined hands up and over. Circle left in this formation.
Camp Harlam Reel by Mark Widmer duple, Becket
|A1||Circle left 3/4 and pass through to new neighbors|
|(New) neighbor do-si-do|
|A2||Neighbor balance and swing|
|B1||Long lines forward and back|
|Women allemande right 1-1/2|
|B2||Partner gypsy and swing|
Comments: Smooth. Dancers can "get in the zone" with this one.
While looking for a Becket dance that ends with a partner gypsy-and-swing to close out a contra medley at Head For The Hills (AND be able to transition to it from an improper formation dance), I was unable to find one that was straightforward enough to call with no walkthrough. I wrote this dance to fit the bill, and named it after the camp where HFTH is held every year in November.
For medley transitions from an improper dance: have the dancers circle left one full time in A1 and do NOT pass through to new neighbors the first time through this dance.
The A1 and A2 are identical to Orace Johnson's Midwest Folklore, something I realized after having written this one. (Note, this link to Midwest Folklore has a different way to progress than the circle-3/4-and-pass-through that I am used to.)
Robert's Ghost by Mark Widmer duple improper
|Star right (hands-across style)|
|B1||Women allemande right 1-1/2|
|B2||Long lines forward and back|
Comments: A dance that appears easy at first glance. However, the women do spend a lot of time spinning around in the same direction, so it may be best to use this one in a medley.
The dance is named for Robert, a pet bird of ours (a java rice finch) who sadly passed away in the
spring of 2001.
Cherokee Swing by Mark Widmer Becket
|A1||Long lines forward and back||8 beats|
|Ladies chain to neighbor, progress to next neighbor||8|
|A2||(New) neighbor do-si-do||8|
|Balance in a circle||4|
|Circle left halfway||4|
|B1||Neighbor allemande right 1-1/2||8|
|Men allemande left 1-1/2||8|
|Partner box-the-gnat (if crooked tune)||4|
Partner balance and swing (extra 4 beats if crooked tune)
Comments: Inspired by David Kaynor's Cherokee Shuffle dance, this dance fits tunes which, like the tune Cherokee Shuffle, have an extra 4 beats in each B part. If you call this dance , make sure the band understands that you want such a tune. Cherokee Shuffle (the tune) can be played in a variety of ways; make sure the band understands you want two A parts (standard length) and two B parts (with an extra 4 beats each).
Alternatively, you could call this to a straight tune. There are several options:
omit the box-the-gnat in B1
omit the partner balance (the box-the-gnat is at the start of B2)
Another variation: Bob Isaacs, after having danced the crooked version of this, says he prefers to balance first (at the end of B1), and then box-the-gnat (start of B2) before swinging.
This makes for a nice two-dance medley with Cherokee Shuffle, provided the band is willing to either play that tune throughout the entire dance, or has another similarly crooked tune to play along with it.
This Dance Has No Name -- Never Had One, Never Will by Mark Widmer 4-facing-4
(a.k.a. The No-Name Four-Face-Four Dance)
|A1||Lines of 4 go forward & back|
|A2||Grand right & left, 1/2-way around:
Right hand to corner (whom you just swung), left to partner,
Right hand to next, left hand to next,
Corner (whom you swung) do-si-do 1-1/2
|B1||Partner swing, end facing up or down toward the original group (not original direction)|
|B2||Circle left, as foursomes, once around|
Balance the ring
|Partner California twirl|
Comments: A severe case of writer's block prevented me from naming this dance for years, until finally I gave up.
End the partner swing facing up or down the set at the same people you have been dancing with. Ignore the couple who are your "traveling partners", and dance B2 in groups of four.
There is something about the grand right and left that disorients a number of dancers, and they might take a while to get around in time to enjoy a reasonably long partner swing. Bob Isaacs suggests this variation:
|A2||Turn away from your corner (whom you just swung) and, with somebody new, allemende left once around.|
Grand right & left, about 1/2-way around:
Right hand to corner (whom you swung), left to partner,
Right hand to next, left hand to next,
Right hand to the next (the corner you swung)
Either way, the grand right and left moves around in the standard direction, with women going clockwise.
Hey Junior by Mark Widmer, var. by Chart Guthrie duple improper
|A1||Neighbor balance and swing|
|Men allemande left 1-1/2|
|B2||Women pull by the right||
|Neighbor allemande left once||
Half-hey, women pass right shoulders to start
Comments: I wrote the original version of this to call at Sherri & Chart Guthrie's first baby shower, one day after having called for the very first time. The title was to honor the yet-to-be-born child, who turned out to be their daughter Carla (in spite of the normal association of "Junior" with male offspring).
The original version had the partner swing end awkwardly in the middle of B1. Thanks to Chart for fixing this up!
Updated 09 Dec 2010 .