Contras by Bob Dalsemer

 

Another Wavy Line

Duple Improper


A1: Do-si-do neighbor once and a quarter to a wavy line, ladies in the middle (8)

        Balance in the wave (4), allemande right neighbor halfway to a wavy line with gents in the middle (4)
A2: Balance in the wave (4), gents allemande left one around (4) Swing neighbor (8)
B1:  Circle left three quarters, swing partner
B2: Long lines go forward and back; ladies allemande left once and a half to face new neighbors

Introduced September 17, 2008 in Brasstown, NC to introduce and/or reinforce the concept of wavy lines of four. The progression is just unexpected enough to be a bit tricky when first walked through.

Emphasize the fact that the two ladies change places in B2 and then face new neighbors.


Arizona Becket

Becket Formation


A1: Circle left with the couple across (8); do si do partner (8)
A2: Allemande left 'shadow' (4) swing partner (12)
B1: Two gents allemande left once and a half (8) swing opposite (neighbor) (8)
B2: Pass thru across set (4), turn individually to right, make a right hand star. Turn star once and a quarter. Gents lead partners left along your line to next couple (usual clockwise progression).

Introduced March 20, 1994 at a callers' workshop in Tuscon.


Balance for Bubba

Remembering John Neil Davidson 1983-2007
Becket Formation


A1: Circle left 3/4, step to a wave (giving right hand to neighbor) (8), balance, walk forward to a new wave
A2: Balance (4) Ladies allemande left halfway (4). Allemande right partner once and a half (8).
B1: Half hey, gents pass left shoulders to start, swing partners
B2: Join hands in a circle of four. Balance and spin twice (as in Petronella)

Composed for the Benefit Contra Dance for the John Neil Davidson Memorial Fund on June 21, 2008. Dancers may complete the action in A2 a little early and go right into the half hey of B1 without waiting for the musical phrase. This results in a longer partner swing and gives more time to end the swing in a timely fashion to start B2.



Baltimore Folks

Becket Formation


A1: On the right diagonal, ladies pass right shoulders to begin a half hey (8) allemande left partner (8)
A2: Ladies chain (with a new couple) straight across (8); circle left 3/4 (8).
B1: Balance the circle (4), gents roll away partner from left to right, (exchanging places with partner along the line), gypsy partner.
B2: Gents pass left shoulders to start a half hey across (8); swing partners (8).

Introduced February 5, 2000 at The Mid Winter Ball in Baltimore to honor the 25th Anniversary of the Baltimore Folk Music Society. Progression is counter clockwise (to the right). Since the transition from roll away to gypsy in B1 is unusual, the calls should be grouped together ( "roll away and gypsy") and dancers should be encouraged in the walk through to make the two movements flow together.


Bye, Bye, Baltimore

Duple Improper


A1: Allemande left neighbor once and a half (8); Allemande right next neighbor along the line once and a half, hold on, give left to yet another neighbor to make long ocean wave lines (8).
A2: Balance in line to the right and left (4) and in the current style of Rory O'More, spin individually to the right (clockwise) while moving to the right passing in front of the second neighbor down the line, (4 steps); swing original N. B1: Circle left 3/4, swing partner
B2: Right and left thru across (with a courtesy turn!) and roll away with a half sashay (8), gents help the ladies lead into a right hand star 3/4 (gents follow partners)

The roll away with a half sashay is most satisfying when it follows a courtesy turn. Dance might have been called Bye, Bye Balto'more. Introduced at Lovely Lane just before my move to North Carolina in August, 1991.


Cape Fear Contra

Duple Improper


A1: Circle left (8); Gents rollaway neighbor from left to right and immediately gypsy same neighbor (8).
A2: Gents allemande left once and a half; Do si do partner
B1: Balance and swing partner
B2: Ladies chain; half hey across, ladies pass right shoulders to start

The rollaway/gypsy combo in A1 takes about 8 steps and should be demonstrated before the walk thru with emphasis placed on giving weight in the rollaway. For Cape Fear (NC) Contradancers' Salty Swirl Festival, February 9, 2002.


ClayMates

Duple Improper


A1: Circle left (8),  balance the circle (4), California twirl (4) [your original neighbor is now behind you]

A2: Left hand star with a new couple [they were behind you at the start of A1.] (8); Swing original                         neighbor, face across in half shoulder-waist position (8) [you are across the set from where you were at the beginning of A1.]

B1: Give-and-Take (8) [see below]; swing partner, end facing across (8)

B2: Ladies chain; half hey across, ladies pass right shoulders to start

Composed to celebrate the marriage of Harry Hearne and Julie Fischer (both are potters) on May 10, 2014.  Couples waiting out at the ends should be prepared to join in the left hand star in A2. The “Give-and-Take” move in the first half of B1 was originated by Larry Jennings. The neighbor swing in A2, ends with the “swingers” in half shoulder-waist position (gent’s right arm around the lady’s waist, her left hand resting on his right shoulder). They move forward as a couple (rather than joining hands in long lines),  joining free hands (lady’s right, gent’s left) with their partners. As Larry described it: “ The woman resists for a moment while they establish a firm but elastic connection.” The gents release their neighbors and draw their partners back to their side for the swing. Give-and-take (with hyphens) is defined in the dictionary as “the practice of compromise.”  


Connie's Contra

Duple Improper


A1: Right hand to neighbor, balance (4), box the gnat (4), swing neighbor (8)
A2: Circle left 3/4, swing partner
B1: Long lines go forward and back (8); right hands across star (8)
B2: Balance in the star (4), gents step back, ladies change places by spinning clockwise across in front of each other (as in the current style of Rory O’More) (4); left hands across star to face new neighbors.

Composed 6/18/09 to medley with Little Kate’s Contra (below). Dedicated to former Folk School host and talented dance caller, Connie Carringer.



Contradiction

Duple Proper


A1: 1. Do-si-do same sex neighbor once and a half (8) ending with the 1's facing out, 2's facing in: balance in long waves (4); allemande left the person on the left about 3/4 (4) .
A2: 1's turn contra corners
B1: 1's balance & swing , ending the swing facing up (proper)
B2: With the couple above, circle left (8), star left (8). End facing next couple


Dog Branch Reel

Duple Improper


A1: Do-si-do your neighbor; 1's swing in the center, end facing down between the inactives
A2: Down the hall four in line, turn alone, come back, pull the ends in
B1: Circle left; swing your neighbor
B2: In long lines go forward and back; 2's swing, end facing up.

Composed in September, 1992 in honor of The Dog Branch Cats, Brasstown's own dance band.


Freighthoppin'

Duple Improper


A1: Right hand star (8); allemande right neighbor once and a half, ending with the gents in the middle (8)
A2: Gents allemande left once around, swing neighbor, face across
B1: Long lines go forward (4), joining two hands with partner, gents keep going forward, ladies back up (4), swing partners, face across
B2: Half promenade across (8), circle left 3/4, pass thru

During counts 5-8 of B1, the ladies may want to pull their partners back slightly to the left diagonal to line up evenly with the opposite couple before the swing. Composed January 8, 1998 in preparation for a dance with music by The Freighthoppers.


 

Half Century Hey

Duple Improper


A1: Circle left once around (8); Balance the circle (4) Circle right just halfway! (4)
A2: Allemande left neighbor once and three quarters around (8); Two women do-si-do in the center once and a half.
B1: Balance and swing partner
B2: Ladies chain (8); Half hey, women pass right shoulders to start

Composed in celebration of Peggy Myers' 50th Birthday, November 16, 1996


Here's To You Mrs. Robinson

Becket Formation


A1: Long lines go forward and back (8); Right and left through across the set (8).
A2: Circle left 3/4, pass through (8); Do-si-do new neighbor to a wavy line of four - give right hand to neighbor, ladies join left hands in the middle(8).
B1: Balance right and left (4), releasing hands, all spin clockwise moving to the right in front of neighbor (as in the current style of Rory O’More) to form a new wavy line by giving left hand to neighbor, gents joining right hands in the middle (4). Balance RIGHT (!) and LEFT again (4) and releasing hands, the gents again spin clockwise moving to the right in front of each other while the ladies spin IN PLACE only HALFWAY AROUND, giving right hand to partner. Gents join left hands with each other to form a wavy line (4).
B2: Balance right and left (4) and swing partner (12), end facing across in long lines


For Mike Robinson and Jill Elmore on their Wedding Day (November 15, 2008 Brasstown, NC) The progression is to the right (counterclockwise). Couples wait out at the ends as in a normal contra dance (facing the set with the lady on the gent’s right). In B1 and B2 all balances are first RIGHT, then LEFT, so recommended footwork for the spins is four small steps: right, left, right, left - ending with weight on the left foot, ready to balance right.


Is It Proper?

Duple Proper or Improper


A1: 1's balance and swing, finish between the 2's in a line of four facing down
A2: Down the hall four in line (4-6), "tag the line" (see below), face up the hall, return
B1: Circle left 1/2, swing neighbors
B2: In long lines go forward and back, 1's half figure eight up thru the 2's

The modern square dance figure "tag the line" involves the four dancers in line turning individually to face the center point of the line (>><<). each taking a small step to the left, they "double" pass thru passing right shoulders (go by two sets of shoulders) and face up the hall. This inverts the line from W2,M1,W1,M2 going down the hall, to W1,M2,W2,M1 coming back. It's not necessary to have the 1’s cross over before the start. A dancer's question provided the title.


Intergenerational Reel

Duple Improper


A1: Circle left and right
A2: 1’s arch, 2’s go thru, separate. return to place (8) 2’s swing, end facing 1’s (8)
B1: Do si do neighbor; swing neighbor
B2: In long lines go forward and back, 1's swing, end facing new 2's

I was looking for another easy contra like Dog Branch Reel to use for The Folk School's Intergenerational Week Tuesday night dance in July 2008.


Jan and Nanette

Duple Improper


A1: The two ladies allemande left once and a half (8), hold on, pick up partners around the  waist and “star promenade” across. Wheel around as couples (“butterfly whirl”) with the ladies backing up, gents going forward (8).


A2: The two gents allemande right once and a half, hold on, and give left hand to neighbor to make a wavy line of four (8). Balance in a wave (4), and swat the flea with neighbor (4) continuing into...


B1: Courtesy turn neighbor (with an arm around) (4), ladies pass right shoulder in the center and swing partners.


B2: Circle left 3/4 (8), balance the circle (4), pass through (4)


Giving and sharing weight comfortably in the butterfly whirl, the allemandes and the courtesy turn is essential to full enjoyment of the dance.


Commemorates Jan and Nanette Davidson’s 30th Anniversary. Linda Allen suggested the swat the flea/courtesy turn combo in A2 and B1.



Jefferson Revisited

Duple Improper


A1: Circle four to the left and back to the right
A2: Same four, right hand star and left hands back
B1: Do-si-do your neighbor; swing your neighbor, end facing down the hall
B2: Down the hall four in line, turn alone (!), come back four in line (12), 2's in the middle make an arch and pop the 1's through to the next couple.

My almost foolproof variation of "Jefferson's Reel" (aka "Jefferson & Liberty"). Introduced in July 1998 at the Folk School's weekly Tuesday night beginners' session.



Little Kate's Contra

Duple Improper


A1: Right hand to neighbor, balance (4), box the gnat (4), pull into a do-si-do with neighbor (8) to a wavy line, gents in the center
A2: Balance in the wave, (4), gents allemande left halfway (4), swing partners (8)
B1: Long lines go forward and back (8); right hands across star (8)
B2: Balance in the star (4), ladies step back, gents change places by spinning clockwise across in front of each other (as in the current style of Rory O’More) (4); left hands across star to face new neighbors.

Composed for Kate Jones’ Farewell Dance Party (8/3/08) prior to her move to Maine to attend Midwifery School. Kate’s presence enlivens any dance floor.  I like to medley this with Connie’s Contra (above).


Maggie's Hobby
Duple Improper


A1: Circle left 3/4; do si do partner
A2:Balance & swing partner, end facing down, four in line
B1: Down the hall four in line, turn as couples, return, bend the line (don't make a circle!)
B2: Pass The Ocean (pass thru to wavy line of four) balance; ladies allemande left 1/2; balance four in line, drop hands, step forward

In B2 the ladies should catch each other's left hand as they pass thru, and allemande left 1/4 , while the men should pass thru to the ends of the wave and give right hands to partner. "Pass The Ocean" is a modern square dance figure. The dance was composed to honor the marriage of two Baltimore dancers, Maggie Taylor and Jay Hobbs.


May Day !

Duple Improper


A1: Do-si-do neighbor; ladies do-si-do
A2: Gents allemande left once and a half; Swing partners
B1: Half promenade across; Ladies allemande right once and a half
B2: Swing neighbors; Long lines go forward and back

Improvised in May 1993 at a Folk School dance with many beginners when I needed something like Don Armstrong's great dance, Broken Sixpence which had already been called that night.


Mid Winter Gypsy

Duple Improper


A1: Long lines forward and back; 2's swing, end facing up
A2: Symmetrical gypsy with neighbor (2’s split the 1’s), go once and a half (8); 1's swing
B1: Down the hall four in line, turn alone, come back
B2: Circle left; Swing your neighbor

Introduced in January, 1993 at the Mid-Winter Ball in Baltimore.


Monterey Detour

Duple Improper


A1: With the 1's in the middle, lines of four go down the hall, turn alone, return, pull into a circle
A2: Circle right (!); circle left
B1: Do-si-do neighbor; swing neighbor
B2: Long lines forward and back; 1's swing, end facing next couple

Introduced March 24, 1998 at the Folk School's weekly Tuesday night beginners' session. The dance is derived from Jonathan Southard's Trip to Monterey which is in turn derived from Ted Sannella's Scout House Reel .


New World

Duple Improper


A1: Do-si-do neighbor; circle left
A2: Circle right; Allemande left neighbor once and a half
B1: Ladies chain over and back
B2: In long lines forward and back; 1's swing, end facing down

Introduced in March, 1990 during the American Dance Friendship Tour of the former Soviet Union.


Pedal Pushers

Duple Improper


A1: Two gents allemande left 1 and 1/2, hold on, pick up partner around waist as in star promenade, bring her back to gent's side (12), wheel around ("butterfly whirl") as a couple (gent backing up).
A2: Two ladies walk around each other (gypsy) passing by right shoulder, return to partner, swing partner, end facing across in a circle of four
B1: Balance in a circle (4) , pass thru (4), turn individually to the right and in your group of four promenade in single file 3/4 around to progressed places (6) , men turn around (2)
B2: Balance and swing neighbors

Composed in September, 1989 to honor Jon and Sue Simmons' departure on a 1500 mile "bikeathon" from Seattle to San Diego. This dance is included in the 7th edition of Dance A While: Handbook for Folk, Square, Contra, and Social Dance published by Macmillan (New York,1994).


Red Mountain Reel

Duple Improper


A1: Do-si-do neighbor once and a little bit more to a wavy line with the ladies in the middle (8)

Balance (4), allemande right neighbor once around (4)
A2: Hey for four started by the two ladies passing LEFT shoulders
B1: Ladies pass left shoulders in the center, gypsy partners, swing partners
B2: Circle left once around (8), as a couple move left long the line (gents leading their partners), circle left 3/4 with the next couple

Composed on March 28, 2011 while preparing a program for the Saturday night dance at the Folk School with one of my favorite old time string bands: Red Mountain from Birmingham, AL. In a crowded hall with compact heys, the women may complete the hey a little early, pass left shoulders and start the gypsy at the beginning of B1. If there’s lots of room and the heys are spread out, partners may decide to shorten or skip the gypsy if a longer swing is desired. The first circle in B2 must get all the way around in 8 steps. These days dancers are used to going 3/4 around in 8 steps, so they may need to be reminded to make the circles smaller and give weight to get around in time.



Roadblock Reel

Duple Improper


A1: In long lines go forward and back (8); pass thru (4) and allemande right neighbor (4) to a wavy line with women in the center.
A2: Balance in line (4), women allemande left halfway (4) and swing partners (8)
B1: Down the hall four in line, turn alone (!) return, bend the line
B2: Circle left 3/4; swing neighbor

I named this dance after being stopped by a police roadblock following a Charlottesville, Virginia Festival Saturday night dance. I thought the Charlottesville P.D. might be able to use it as a sobriety test for contra dancers!

I learned an alternative B1 from Robert Cromartie that I like: Down the hall four in line, Dixie Twirl, return, join hands in a circle. "Dixie Twirl" is from the early days of modern club square dancing. It's essentially a California Twirl for couples, i.e. the two center people make an arch, the woman on the right hand end of the line leads her partner through the arch, while the man on the left hand end of the line leads his partner around behind to the other end and all face up.


Sackett's Horror

Triple Improper


A1: 1's balance & swing neighbors & face across (3's may balance & swing & end proper)
A2: 1's half figure eight through the couple above (8); circle six to the right (!) 3/4, ending in lines of three across (1's in the middle, men facing down, women facing up, everyone across from partner)
B1: 1's turn contra corners ending with an extra allemande right with each other back to place in the lines of three.
B2: Circle six to the left 3/4; 1's swing, end facing a new #2 couple


My attempt to make the traditional dance, Sackett's Harbor, a little more zesty.


Spice of Life

Duple Improper


A1: Allemande left neighbor (8); same four circle left (8)
A2: Allemande right same neighbor (8) Two women allemande left (8)
B1: Balance and swing partners
B2: Promenade across (8) Ladies (helped by the gents) move in front of their partners to make a right hand star 3/4 around to progressed places

For Chris Spicer.



Staten Island Contra

Duple Improper


A1: Allemande left neighbor once and three quarters (8) ladies chain across
A2: Long lines forward and back; in your group of four, circle left
B1: Circle back to the right just halfway (4), balance in a circle (4) swing partner
B2: Gents allemande left halfway, give right to neighbor to make a a wavy line of four (4), balance the line (4), allemande right neighbor once and 3/4 (8)

Composed during the Folk School's Contra Dance Musicians' Week, 1996 to fill the need for a relatively easy dance whose balances would accommodate the B music of Staten Island Hornpipe.


Surprise For Tom

Duple Improper


A1: Two women allemande left once and a half (8), giving right to partner to form a wavy line of four; balance right and left (4), allemande right 1/2 to put the men in the middle of the line
A2: Balance right and left (4), gypsy 3/4 around partner (4), men pass left shoulders in the middle to start a half hey (slightly less!)
B1: Balance and swing partners
B2: Right and left thru; circle left 3/4, pass thru

A birthday surprise for Tom Hinds, February, 1992. This dance also appears on p. 120 of Ted Sannella's Swing The Next, published in 1996 by The Country Dance and Song Society.


The French Connection

Duple Improper


A1: Balance (4) and swing neighbors (12).
A2: Hey for four, gents pass left shoulders to start (16).
B1: Circle four to the left 3/4 (6-8); swing partners (8-10).
B2: Promenade across (8); Join hands in a circle, balance the circle (4).

        Gents pass right shoulders to face new neighbors (4).

To celebrate the marriage of  Geraud Barralon and Annie Fain Liden Barralon, August 17, 2013,       Brasstown, NC. At the end of A1 the gents should (gently) to leave their neighbors behind them just before passing left shoulders to effect a smooth transition from the swing into the hey. However during the walk through it is helpful to have everyone end the neighbor swing in progressed places (gent on the left, lady on the right) and note their positions before walking through the hey, since they must be back in these positions to start the circle in B1.


The Vowels of Matrimony

Duple Improper


A1: Balance (4) and swing neighbors (12).
A2: Circle four to the left (8), “gate” with neighbor, gents moving forward (8).
B1: Gents allemande left once and a half (8); swing partners, end facing across (8).
B2: Ladies chain across (8); ladies pass right shoulders to start a half hey across (8).



To celebrate the marriage of  David Vowell and Sheryl Wiggins, October 24, 2015 in Brasstown, NC.

The asymmetrical “gate” in A2 should flow from the circle: let go of partner, keep hands joined with neighbor and wheel around as a couple with the gents moving forward and the ladies backing up. A mutually strong (but not overbearing) connection between neighbors is important.