Dances by Micah Smukler

This web page consists of contra dances that I wrote. They’ve been substantially influenced by my love of mathematics, as well as an occasional weakness for bad puns.

If you do any of these dances, please let me know how they went!


The Copenhagen Interpretation
a duple improper contra dance

A1
Do-si-do your neighbor
And swing
A2
Two gents chain across the set
Half hey-for-4 (starts with men passing left shoulders)
B1
Balance and swing your partner
B2
Long lines forward and back
Circle left 3/4, pass through to new neighbors

Composed 8/29/2003, at the Toronto Morris Ale. First danced in July 2005, at the local dance in Syracuse, NY.

The name refers to a wavy line that was originally in the dance, but “collapsed” into the neighbor swing.


Goody Two Shoes
a Becket formation contra dance (ccw double progression)

A1
Long lines forward and back
Two ladies allemande left once around and give right hands to next to form a long wave of ladies (4), balance that wave (4)
A2
Ladies spin to the right (as in Rory O’More) and a little bit more to form a diamond with two gents (4), balance that ring (4)
All spin (as in Petronella) one place to the right, the gents spinning a quarter turn more and taking left hands with each other and right with the next to form a long wave of gents (4), balance that wave (4)
B1
Gents spin to the right (as in Rory O’More) and a little bit more to form a diamond with two ladies (4), balance that ring (4)
All spin (as in Petronella) one place to the right (4), ladies allemande left until you see your partner (4)
B2
Balance and swing partner

Composed originally in the summer of 2000, revised to usable status 1/20/02 and further revised in the autumn of 2003. First tested at Campers’ Week 2000 at Pinewoods, by a group of unsuspecting individuals who showed up early to a contra class.

This is not an easy dance to learn, but it generously repays the effort. The following tips may be helpful:

  • After each Rory O’More spin you will be facing up and down the hall in the middle of the set; the sides move in to form the diamond.
  • After each Petronella spin you will be facing across the set, looking at the same wall as you were when you lined up; whoever meets in the middle within each diamond does so with a left hand.
  • The first diamond (in A2) does not have your partner in it, but there is an opposite sex shadow there (it’s the person other than your partner who starts the dance next to you). The second diamond (in B1) contains your partner.
  • The ladies’ 4-count turn in A1 is brisk. If the ladies are late or facing the wrong way it will create chaos, so it is important to emphasize both the timing and the orientation (end facing the same wall as they started facing) in the teaching.

Micah’s Triplet # i
a triplet (end 2-3-1)

A1
Couple 1 go down the outside to the bottom of the set
Lines of 3 go forward and back
A2
End two couples allemande left once (4)
All 6 circle left once (12)
B1
End two couples turn contra corners (as if on the end of a contra line, so one of their two corners will be a ghost).
B2
End two couples balance and swing partner, end facing up

The allemande at the beginning of A2 needs to be speedy in order to leave enough time to get all the way around the circle. A potential variant (suggested by Kathy Anderson) would replace the forward and back at the end of A1 by a pass through and turn alone, and then have everyone allemande halfway at the beginning of A2, giving a slightly more leisurely dance.

Written and tested during Camper’s Week 2004 at Pinewoods.


Micah’s Triplet # pi
a triplet (end 2-3-1)

A1
Couple 1 do-si-do your partner 1&1/2
Allemande left below 1&1/2
A2
Same four circle right
Bottom four circle left
B1
Heys-for-3 along the line (start with actives passing bottom person by the right and continue the hey for one extra pass to leave the actives at the bottom)
B2
Actives gypsy and swing at the bottom (end facing up so all are proper)

Written in the winter of 2003. First tested at the spring 2003 Pomona College contra class. Further testing by a group of mostly-teens at Family Week 2003 at Pinewoods.

The last two dances are the beginning of a (hopefully) continuing
series of mathematically-titled triplets. Possible future entries include
Micah’s Triplet # phi and Micah’s Triplet # infinity.


(Nameless)
a Becket formation contra dance (ccw double progression)

A1
Circle L 3/4
Allemande neighbor R 1&1/2
A2
With the next neighbor, allemande L 1&1/2
Ladies pass R shoulders in the middle for half a hey for 4
B1
Balance and swing neighbor
B2
Gents pass L to start a hey for 4; when the ladies meet in the middle, they loop back to meet their partner
Swing partner on the side; slide slightly to the left to meet next neighbors

Written gradually over Fall 2005; the original inspiration was a dance (whose title I don’t know) called by Scott Higgs at English & American Week 2005 at Pinewoods. The A part of the dance borrows substantially from Delphiniums and Daisies by Tanya Rotenberg.

Strictly speaking, this is a “bucksaw formation” dance a la Larry Jennings.


Propellor
a duple proper contra dance

A1
Actives pull by partner to cross set, go down the outside
Return.
A2
Down the hall 4-in-line, actives in the center (arms around waists)
Wheel around as a line 1&1/2
B1
Come back up the hall, bend the line
Circle L
B2
All pass through across the set and turn individually
Actives swing (end proper and facing each other)

Written and tested during Campers’ Week 1994 at Pinewoods for a 10-12-year-old class led by Kathy Miller.

It’s fun, and helps the flow of the dance, to do a sort of inverse cast off (from the outside to the inside of the set) at the end of A1. If you’re feeling particularly energetic, you might also want to try replacing the circle in B1 with a basket swing.


Take Two
a duple improper contra dance

A1
Circle left once around
Swing your neighbor
A2
Give and take (to man’s side) and roll away with a half sashay
Half hey-for-4 (starts with women passing right shoulders)
B1
Balance and swing your partner
B2
Circle left 3/4
Balance, California twirl

Composed January 19, 2003 at the Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend. So far as I know, still untested.

At the Ralph Page Weekend that year, several dances had been called that used a “give-and-take” figure, in which couples go forward and one person (in this case the gent) draws the other back to his side of the set. This dance was an attempt to demonstrate that “give-and-take” could be followed by something other than a swing.