Contras, etc. (Beta)

Tried and True Contras
Untested Contras
Master List of All Dances

Duple improper

Becket formation

Duple proper

Triple minor

Triplets

“Tempest” formation


Anglo File ****
July 2021
Duple improper

 A1 Dolphin hey across: ones split new neighbors, turn left, and pass left shoulders with neighbor to begin
 A2 Down the hall 4-in-line (ones in the center), turn alone
Return and bend the line
 B1 Circle left 3/4 and partners swing
 B2 Chain across
Left-hand star — for transition into next hey, release star early and twos cast up the outside (see note)

For the uninitiated, the dolphin hey is a hey for three (across the hall in this case) that is done by four dancers. The ones act as a unit, one following the other as if attached by a magnetic field. Whenever the ones loop back into the set on one end of the hey or the other, they turn as individuals, changing who leads. This happens once at each side of the set, so at the end of the hey, all are back where they began. Much playful eye contact is possible for those who wish.

The transition from B2-A1 is a key moment. Releasing the star early helps the ones not to overshoot their entrance into the next dolphin hey. As the ones release, they maintain the momentum of the star, one continuing to follow the other, and loop left into a dolphin hey with new neighbors. Twos: note that you are moving up the outside to progress. On the R-file the counterclockwise momentum of the star will, more or less, send you there. On the L-file, loop right out of the star to cast up the outside and flow into the hey.


The Bride’s a Bonny Thing **
Duple improper

 A1 Neighbors balance and swing
 A2 Long lines forward and back
Actives only swing in the center, ending the swing facing the music
 B1 Actives up the hall, turn as a couple
Return down the hall same neighbors do a full arm-around cast
 B2 Down the hall 4-in-line, do not turn
Active couple make an arch and back up, second couple pass through the arch

Nearly identical to Dillon Bustin’s dance, Anne’s a Bride Tonight. I changed A2, which originally consisted of stars by the RH and LH.  This dance was created for the “hand-fasting” of Morris dance friends, Susan Galbraith and Dan Clark.

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The Common Decency Jig ***
November 2016
Duple improper

 A1 Long lines forward and as you back out take 2 hands with neighbor
Balance; releasing outside hand, twirl to swap (face across)
 A2 Circle left 3/4 and partner swing
 B1 Left hand allemande 1-1/2
Half hey-for-4 (neighbors pass right shoulder to begin)
 B2 Neighbors balance and swing

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Dark Vanilla ***
March 2023
Duple improper

 A1 (4) Second diagonals step to the center and make a long wavy line (see note)
(4) Balance the wave
(4) Others step in to make a wave (those in the first wave fall back)
(4) Balance the wave, then drop left hands
 A2 Allemande right once around, pick up partner, and…
Star promenade half and butterfly whirl (clockwise)
 B1 Those going forward, do-si-do in the center, into…
Partners swing; end by taking hands-4
 B2 Modified give-and-take:
(4) Balance the ring
(12) Circle left 1/4 into a neighbor swing on original side

The first wave is formed by those on the left (second) diagonal. The dance ends with a neighbor swing, and it is those second diagonals who will have left hands free and momentum from the swing to step forward into the wave.

In A2, the right-hand turn is, technically, 1-1/4, so that all are facing up or down as they connect for the star promenade. But after turning once you are facing your partner. So, when teaching or calling it is clearer to ignore the fractions.

This is a modification of a dance by Martha Wild called Dark Vanessa.

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Driving to Olean **
March 2007
Duple improper

 A1 Ones dive through an arch made by couple 2, then separate and come back up the outside to place
Ones swing, end facing down
 A2 Circle left
And back to the right
 B1 Balance the ring and neighbors swing
End the swing facing down the hall
 B2 Down the hall 4-in-line, turn alone
Return; as the phrase ends twos make an arch, ones turn in and dive through
(To begin again, continue down the center diving through a second arch)

I used to drive about 4 hours from Syracuse to Olean, NY for a day job, but I wrote this dance while driving there instead to call. Their dance included lots of newcomers, and I wanted to make up something that would be friendly to that crowd.

The second half of this dance is a sequence I really like that I stole shamelessly from Bob Dalsemer’s Jefferson Revisited. (I used the same sequence in Forsythia.) I find the effect in this dance of diving through two arches quite enticing.

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Fairfield Connection ***
May 2007
Duple improper

 A1 Neighbors do-si-do
And swing
 A2 Circle left
Circle back to the right about halfway, ones release each other’s hand and draw the “snake” into the line-of-4 facing down (twos in the center; ones on the ends)
 B1 Down the hall 4-in-line, turn alone
Return; as the phrase ends twos make an arch, ones turn in and dive through
 B2 With new neighbors, chain up and down the hall
And chain back

Another dance in which I borrow the second half of Bob Dalsemer’s Jefferson Revisited. Here it is combined with Dick Forscher’s Fairfield Fancy.

Because the chain moves up and down the hall instead of across, this dance will not work well in a crowded hall.

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Fall Back ****
January 2002/November 2007
Duple improper and double progression

 A1 (4) Down the hall 4-in-line (ones in the center), turn toward your neighbor on the fourth step so that all are facing up
(4) Fall back, to continue moving down the hall
(4) Similarly, come forward, turning on the fourth step to face down
(4) And fall back to place, bending the line on the last 2 counts to form a ring
 A2 (8) Circle right 1x, noticing whether you follow partner or neighbor in the circle
(2) Those following neighbors turn by the left hand just halfway
(6) Others fall in behind neighbor for a left hands across star 3/4
(end having progressed once and face new neighbor)
 B1 With this neighbor do-si-do and swing (second progression)
 B2 Long lines forward and back
Ones swing in the middle

This dance used to be called, “Never Mind,” but eventually I decided the title was a liability. When I wrote another dance called Spring Forward that used a mirror image of the progression sequence in A2, a better title for this dance became obvious!

A1 is a modified version of a figure from the English Country dance, Dublin Bay. There are a few other nice contra dances that use it as well. One is by Paul Balliet and another by Sue Rosen.

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Forsythia ***
Spring 2004
Duple improper

 A1 Circle left all the way round
Neighbors allemande right 1-1/2
 A2 Next neighbors allemande left 2x
Original neighbors do-si-do
 B1 Same neighbors, balance and swing, end facing down
 B2 Down the hall 4-in-line, turn alone
Return; as the phrase ends twos make an arch, ones turn in and dive through

The second half is borrowed from Bob Dalsemer’s dance, Jefferson Revisited. The title (which arrived in the spring of 2006) does not refer to anything in particular. I just love seeing all that cheerful yellow in the spring.

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Four Bits *
April 2018
Duple improper

 A1 Neighbors do-si-do
Left diagonals do-si-do
 A2 Right diagonals do-si-do
Ones swing, end facing down
 B1 Down the hall 4-in-line, turn alone
Return, bend the line
 B2 Circle left once around
Balance the ring twice; on the last beat, turn around to discover your new neighbor

This dance originated at a dance that followed our Central New York callers gathering. I was asked to call the first dance that evening. Many of the dancers who lined up were children or first-timers. There was a great, warm and upbeat energy in the room. I decided to call Don Armstrong’s Broken Sixpence, which is exactly the same as the dance above, except that B2 is “Circle left; left-hand star.”

Just as I arrived at B2 during the walkthrough, I looked out at the crowd and imagined the chaos that would ensue if I asked for a star and then hoped they would find their new neighbor. So, while they were circling, I made an on-the-spot decision to replace the star with a double balance and then simply turn on a dime to find the new neighbor. It worked quite well, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the effect.

So… geez. This is hardly a new dance. But I offer it here for anyone who finds themselves in similar circumstances and wants a dance to teach (with very little risk): four-bar phrases, the roles of partner and neighbor, and progression in a contra.

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Handyman’s Special **
September 2015
Duple improper

 A1 Neighbors allemande with the handy hand (1s between 2s) and ones swing
 A2 Circle left and circle right
 B1 Neighbors balance and swing
 B2 Down the hall 4-in-line, turn alone
Return; as the phrase ends twos make an arch, ones turn in and dive through

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Kindred Spirits ***
March 2018
Duple improper

 A1 With couple 2 in the middle of a line-of-4: Up a double and back
Repeat
 A2 Neighbors balance and swing
 B1 Circle left all the way around
Couple 1 half figure eight up through couple 2
 B2 Couple 1 balance and swing, end facing down
 A3 With couple 1 in the middle of a line-of-4: Down a double and back
Repeat
 A4 Neighbors balance and swing
 B3 Circle left all the way around
Couple 2 half figure eight down through couple 1
 B4 Couple 2 balance and swing, end facing up

End on B2.

This is a modification of Gene Hubert’s dance, Mary J’s Jig, and jigs work well for it! I reimagined it as an alternating dance, giving couple 2 the lead every other time. I also changed the 8-count “down the hall 4-in-line” to up (or down) a double and back, which avoids crowding the lines given the alternating structure, and also gives the dance even more of an English feel. The title is borrowed from a Binghamton, NY community event that combines contra and English dance in roughly equal proportions.

As in other alternating dances, the challenge for the caller is to avoid losing one’s place.

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Loose Change ***
May 2017
Duple improper

 A1 Neighbor balance and swing
 A2 Circle left 3/4 and partner swing
 B1 “Bucksaw” progression as follows:
Those who can (almost everyone) right and left through on the left diagonal
Right and left through straight across
 B2 These four balance in a ring, spin to the right one place (as in Petronella)
Neighbors do-si-do

After the do-si-do in B2, balance and swing the same neighbor to begin the next round of the dance.

The progression in B1 is from the very first Becket formation dance, Becket Reel (or the “Bucksaw Contra”), by Herbie Gaudreau, and the idea of using it in a duple improper dance is borrowed from Becky Hill’s dance, Kopp’s on the Loose.

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Meadowbrook ***
Duple improper

 A1 Neighbors balance and swing
 A2 Give-and-take, taking outside hand with partner; if partner is in your right hand, you’ll cross to partner’s side and swing
 B1 Circle left 3/4, pass neighbor by right shoulder
Continue to promenade single file along the set, turn alone
 B2 Return to the same neighbor, and…
Allemande left twice around; end progressed and facing new neighbor

This dance was named for a little stream near my house.

Modeled on Tony Parkes’ Middlesex March.

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More or Less ***
Duple improper

 A1 Neighbors do-si-do
Same neighbors allemande right 1-1/2 to form long wavy lines at the sides
 A2 Balance (to the right first), slide or spin to the right as in Rory O’More
Balance the new wave (to the left this time), slide or spin to the left
 B1 Allemande right 1x; those facing in cross the set while others turn over right shoulder
Partners swing
 B2 Circle left 3/4
Balance the ring, California twirl to face new neighbors

Alternately, B2 can be right and left across, and chain.

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Newfangled Contraption 2 ***
2002
Duple improper

 A1 Current neighbors right-hand star
Former neighbors left-hand star
 A2 Beginning with original neighbor, grand right and left along the line
Allemande left neighbor #4 to face back the way you came
Reverse grand right and left past neighbors #3 and #2
 B1 Original neighbors balance and swing
 B2 Long lines forward and back
Ones swing in the center, end facing down

This is a revision of one of the first dances I cobbled together in 1980. The earlier version was much more confusing, and I hadn’t used it for years.

In B2, if you wish, you can alternate ones swinging (and facing down) with twos swinging (and facing up).

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No Plan B ***
December 2022
Duple improper

 A1 Neighbors do-si-do
Neighbors swing, end facing down
 A2 Down the hall 4-in-line, turn as couples
Return, hand cast (end all facing up, inner hands joined with partner)
 B1 “Ride the waves,” as follows:
(4) Ones arch over/Twos back under
(4) Twos arch over/Ones back under
(8) Repeat
 B2 Alternating partner swing: First time through, ones balance and swing; every other time twos do it; end facing next neighbors

The heart of this dance is Kirston Koth’s classic, Nantucket Sleigh Ride, a wonderful dance written in 1976. I think it should be done more often, and slipped in a partner swing hoping it might give the dance a bit more 21st century appeal. Since the theme of the dance has always related to the oceans, I gave this variation a title that refers obliquely to global warming.

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The Other Door ****
May 2016
Duple improper

 A1 Down the hall 4-in-line (ones in the center), “fold the line”: stay connected with your neighbor and wheel halfway to face up (ones moving forward, twos backing up)
Return, bend the line
 A2 Circle left once around
Neighbors swing
 B1 Circle left halfway (4)
Twos swing and end facing up toward your ones (all are proper)
 B2 Neighbors mirror allemande 1-1/2, twos between ones to begin
Ones swing, end facing down

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Riverbend ***
April 2006
Duple improper and double progression

 A1 Down the hall 4-in-line (ones in the center), turn alone
Return and face across
 A2 Right and left through across the set, courtesy turn goes a quarter more so that ones face up and twos down
1/2 hey-for-4 (outsides loop left and centers pass right to begin)
 B1 With next neighbor, balance and swing
 B2 Circle left all the way round
Ones swing in the center

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Skaneateles **
2003
Duple improper

 A1 Circle left
And back to the right
 A2 Balance the ring and neighbors swing
 B1 Promenade across the set
Half right and left back home
 B2 Long lines forward and back
Ones swing, end facing the next

Named after a finger lakes dance community, home of the “Cabin Fever” dance series.

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Spring Forward ****
November 2007
Duple improper

 A1 Neighbors balance and swing
 A2 Left hand allemande 1-1/2
Partners swing
 B1 Right and left through
Balance the ring, spin one place to the right as in Petronella
 B2 “Build a star” as follows:
Those who did the allemande, right-hand turn just halfway (2)
Others fall in behind neighbor for a right hands-across star 3/4 (6)
(end progressed and facing new neighbors)
New neighbors do-si-do (8)

The progression in B2 went through several stages of evolution. Originally it was intended to be an adaptation of Rod Linnell’s “star cast off,” a figure that was briefly popular with dance authors in the 1960s and 70s. Unfortunately, I think it was more fun for choreographers than for dancers, and it never did catch on. I hoped my modification would be a great improvement. However, after pestering patient dance crowds with it several times, a dancer friend offered me some gentle feedback that convinced me to give up on the sequence. After further tweaking, the progression is no longer recognizably related to the original Rod Linnell figure at all. Be that as it may, you can find the mirror image of the “spring forward” progression in my companion dance, Fall Back.

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Still Deciding *
August 2022
Duple improper

 A1 Down the hall 4-in-line (ones in center)
Turn alone and return, neighbors face
 A2 Neighbors balance and swing
 B1 Circle left 3/4 and partners swing
 B2 Long lines forward and back
Circle left 3/4; twos assisting, ones move down center to a line-of-4 with new neighbors

Based on David Kaynor’s Pittsfield Chain, and nearly the same as Kathy Anderson’s Blue Moon Boogie. B2 ends with a whoosh!

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Stopping By Woods **
Fall 2002
Duple improper

 A1 Neighbors balance and swing, end facing down
 A2 Down the hall 4-in-line, turn as couples
Return, bend the line
 B1 Circle left
Chain across
 B2 Chain back
Left-hand star

Stopping By Woods is really just a slight reorganization of Tony Parkes’ Woods Hole Jig. Like Lady Walpole’s Reel, the traditional first dance in some quarters, these dances have no partner swing. I sometimes use such dances as the first dance of an evening, so that newcomers who are dancing together will avoid learning lackluster swing habits from one another. (There are of course some dancers who will be disappointed if a dance does not include a partner swing.)

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Syracuse Weathervane ***
Duple improper

 A1 Neighbors do-si-do
And swing
 A2 Left hand allemande 1-1/2
Pick up partner, star promenade 1/2 and butterfly whirl, in the center hook right elbows (partners still have arms around)
 B1 Turn this “weathervane” all the way round (12)
Centers release and partners courtesy turn 3/4 (4)
 B2 Chain
Left-hand star

My variation on Yucaipa Weathervane by Ed Gilmore.

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Through the Looking Glass *****
September 2015
Duple improper

 A1 Neighbors allemande with the handy hand 1-1/2 (1st time 1s split 2s)
With next neighbor mirror do-si-do (2s splitting 1s)
 A2 Same neighbors (neighbor 2) balance and swing
 B1 Circle left once around
Twos down the center and cast off with original neighbors, ending in progressed place
 B2 Long lines forward and back
Actives (twos) swing, end facing up toward your new neighbor (the one you swung)
  then…
 A1 These neighbors allemande with a handy hand 1-1/2 (this time 2s split 1s)
With next neighbor mirror do-si-do (1s splitting 2s)
 A2 And these neighbors balance and swing
 B1 Circle left once around
Ones up the center and cast off with neighbor 1 (the one you started with this time through)
 B2 Long lines forward and back
Actives (ones) swing, end facing down toward new neighbors

After the circle in B1, whether ones or twos are active, they pass the one they swung, and cast off with the next neighbor they meet — the same person they turned with a handy hand.

Based on a dance by Bill Chapp called Planxty Mary Harris with hints of a chestnut called Calais Sally. Expect end effects, but don’t rush to repair them if you feel you are in the wrong place. Things might be just fine.

I created this alternating actives dance on September 15, 2015. I consider it a dance for experienced folks only. Kathy Anderson, in her inimitable way, calls it “Lady-o-active.”

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Ticklish ***
May 2019
Duple improper

Starts facing out of the set and taking inside hand with neighbor

 A1 Neighbors balance, star through to face partner, and give partner the same inside hand
Partners balance and star through, face original neighbor
 A2 Neighbors balance and swing
 B1 Circle left 3/4 and partners swing
 B2 Long lines forward and back
Left hand allemande 1-1/2

Those not involved in the allemande left in B2 can face the next and offer their left hand, ready for the first balance.

Based on a dance by Becky Hill called O’Brien’s Star.

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Zero Sum Game **
July 2006
Duple improper

 A1 Neighbors balance and swing
 A2 Left hand allemande 1-1/2
Partners swing
 B1 Circle left all the way round
Right and left through across the set
 B2 Chain back
Left-hand star

I often think of the first dance I call during an evening as my “diagnostic” dance: a chance to see how the dancers handle various basic moves so that I can plan on what to call next. Zero Sum Game is a glossary dance based on Tony Parkes’s Spring Fever.

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Love’s Evolution ***
January 2023
Becket, clockwise

 A1 Left hand allemande once around, easing out to face partner along the line
Partners “swirly siding”: Left shoulder round halfway (changing places), reorient and right shoulder back, into…
 A2 Circle left 3/4, pass through to new neighbors and form a wave across
Balance the wave; “swing through” (neighbors RH turn 1/2, middles LH turn 1/2)
 B1 Balance this wave; swing through (partners RH turn 1/2, middles LH turn 1/2)
Neighbors swing, end the swing facing across with an arm around
 B2 Revolving Door: Neighbors acting as a unit, allemande right halfway; drop outside neighbor off and continue right-hand turn unencumbered to meet partner
Partners swing

The first allemande should fill the phrase to create a smooth flow from the allemande into the siding. No prizes awarded for arriving early! There is also a good opportunity for flow in the revolving door figure if outsides do not stop moving when dropped off, but continue to loop clockwise into the swing.

Written to celebrate the wedding of Colleen Denny and Kaleb Colosimo. This dance takes “something borrowed” seriously. The siding is borrowed from English country dance, the swing through is from modern western square dance, and the revolving door was invented by Ron Buchanan.

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Rabbit Rabbit ***
July 1, 2023
Becket, clockwise

 A1 “Give-and-take the new neighbor,” as follows:
Slide left to take hands-4 with new neighbors, begin to circle left going just 1/4, and neighbors swing
 A2 Long lines forward and back
Left hands allemande, go 1-1/2
 B1 Partners balance and swing
 B2 (6) Right-hand chain across
(4) Pass through across, turning over right shoulder to face in…
(6) …and circle left 3/4

I call the first figure a “give-and-take” because circling 1/4 hardly feels like circling at all. Rather, it is one partner drawing the other over to their side of the set for a swing. The initial slide left to progress that is also part of this figure can be omitted on the first time through the sequence.

Timing for A1 is somewhat flexible. I envision “Slide left and draw neighbor across” as happening in a brisk 4 steps, leaving a 12-count swing. But if it takes 6 or even 8 counts, the dance should still work well. Part of what might slow A1 down is if the final pass through to circle left in B2 is at all late. Completing that in time requires passing through with a clear intention to be circling. Note also that B2, although written out in three chunks, should be one smooth sequence.

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Christmas Hornpipe (David Smukler version) *****
April 2005
Duple proper

 A1 #1L down the center and take hands in a 3-person ring with #2R and #1R from the next group of 4 (a shadow) (4); balance the ring (4)
Circle left one time (6) and #1L fall back to place (2)
 A2 Similarly, #1R down the center and take hands with #2L and the next #1L (a shadow, who has just returned to place and remembered to face up) (4)
These three balance in a ring (4)
Circle left one time (6) and #1R fall back to place (2)
 B1 Couple 1 down the center; the same way back, and cast off
 B2 Right and left through, over and back
(two R-file dancers remain connected for the next A1)

This is a “chestnut-like” dance. The right and left through at the end is very satisfying if done with old-fashioned styling. Pass your partner by right shoulder (no hands) in four counts. Neighbors turn as a twosome maintaining a side-by-side relationship throughout (but not necessarily touching), left-hand person backing up to anchor the pivot. A bit of a shuffle step would not go amiss.

Christmas Hornpipe (also known as Vinton’s Hornpipe) is a classic nineteenth century contra dance. This variation on the original occurred to me while I was working on a “Cracking Chestnuts” column about the dance for the CDSS News. There is a British version similar to this one, which I have only called once. It is one approach to turning a triple minor dance into a duple minor one. The British version, at least when I taught it, created a fair amount of confusion. I’ve been told that this is supposed to be part of the fun, but in tweaking the A-parts I tried to clarify the timing and build in a few safeguards against chaos. Even so, this is a challenging dance.

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Green Mountain Petronella ***
1980s
Duple proper

 A1 Ones only, round to the right and balance (as in Petronella)
Repeat, leaving actives improper
 A2 Neighbors allemande left 1-1/2
Those facing in, chain across
 B1 All down center 2-by-2, twos in the lead, turn as couples
Return, ones cast around twos unassisted
 B2 Same 4, left-hand star
Right-hand star

This is one of my first dances, and is strongly influenced by traditional choreography. The style of the dance is not at all like what has become the dominant style of contra dances today. For example, it has no swings and no circles, and it has a vocabulary built of older figures. So, it is not a dance for everyone, but I still hope it will find an appreciative audience.

Note that the Petronella figure is like it is in the original chestnut: spin to the right first and then balance, rather than the other way around. The dance also benefits from a little extra space at the bottom of the set.

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Hurdle Help ****
April 2007
Duple proper

 A1 Ones dance a full figure eight down through the twos
(Optional: the twos may participate to make it a full double figure eight)
 A2 Ones swing in the center
All swing neighbor
 B1 Circle left once around
Chain across
 B2 And chain back
Couple one half figure eight through the couple above

In A1, the double figure eight is well worth learning. A2 is a swing to a swing, a sequence Ted Sannella liked and used. It is challenging to execute well, but very satisfying if you can successfully spin from one swing to the other without pause.

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New Countryman’s Reel ****
December 2012
Duple proper

 A1 First corners (#1L and #2R) down the center, turn alone
Return and left-file dancers only cast off
(Original first corners are now in second place)
 A2 The other two go down the center, turn alone
Return and right-file dancers cast off
(All are progressed and proper)
 B1 Couple one half figure eight up through the twos above
Ones swing, end facing up
 B2 Same four circle left once around
Twos swing, end facing up

The A-parts are based on “Old Countryman’s Reel,” a dance from Howe, a popular 19th century collection of dances (though I reversed A1 and A2). The original B-parts were “balance and 1/2 R&L” for B1 and the same to return in B2. I would interpret this “balance” as a “forward and back” for modern dancers, since it would require 8 counts, though back in the day dancers probably did some fancy stepping. There is a nice traditional tune called the Countryman’s Reel that is good for stepping! It is popular in Missouri I’m told.

The idea for New Countryman’s Reel came to me as I was correcting a mistake in how I’d written the classic dance in my dance notes.

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Thinking About Gene *****
March 2006
Duple proper

 A1 Long lines forward and back
Ones allemande left 1-1/2
 A2 Neighbors balance and swing, end facing in
 B1 Left diagonals cast back over right shoulder and orbit halfway (changing places) (6)
All circle left 3/4 (until ones are above) (6)
Couple one make an arch, the twos dive through and separate out to the ends of a line-of-4 facing down (4)
 B2 Down the hall, couple one turn as a couple (others turn alone)
Return, hand cast

The timing indicated in B1 should not be interpreted rigidly, but might be helpful as there is little time to waste.

My homage to Gene Hubert, who in his short life produced choreography that changed contra dancing forever. The week after he died, like many others, I included several of his dances in the program I called. While musing on the enormous variety and creativity of his output, this sequence occurred to me.

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Three Steps Down *****
Duple proper

 A1 Ones allemande right 1-1/2 and face neighbor along the line
Neighbors mirror do-si-do (twos between ones to begin)
 A2 Right-hand star
Left-hand back
 B1 Down the hall, 4-in-line (actives in the center), face neighbor (4)
Neighbors allemande left (4)
Ones swing in the center (8)
 B2 Come up the hall, 4-in-line, hand cast
Long lines forward and back

If the dancers find the mirror do-si-do puts them on cognitive overload, a straight right shoulder do-si-do is fine.

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Oyster Sundae ****
March 2006 (yes, there is an ‘r’ in ‘March’)
Triple improper

 A1 Ones and twos: neighbors allemande left 1-1/2
Ones and threes: do-si-do
 A2 Come back one and balance and swing (ones and twos with neighbor; threes may also balance and swing)
 B1 All six circle left halfway
Top four (couples one and three) left-hand star
 B2 All six circle right halfway
Top four (couples one and two) right-hand star

The B-parts in Oyster Sundae were inspired by the chestnut, Oyster River. Similar sequences are part of two of my favorite triple minor dances: Ted Sannella’s Contravention and Chip Hendrickson’s The Old Master. There is a family story behind the title about a memorable meal in Texas.

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David’s Triplet #1 ***
Triplet, couple 1 improper

 A1 Ones down the center, turn as a couple
Return, cast off with twos
 A2 Ones turn contra corners
 B1 Ones balance and swing, end facing up and take hands with twos in a ring
 B2 Balance the ring, drop hands, pass through across the set and turn individually over right shoulder into…
Circle left all six, halfway round

Ends in 3-1-2 order with the new top couple improper.

David’s Triplet #1 was based in part on Ted Sannella’s wonderful Ted’s Triplet #7. It was composed during a period of time when I was calling lots of contra corner dances. I wanted a triplet to create an easy context to teach the figure in. I liked the result, but didn’t find it easy enough for my purposes.

So I created another even easier one and called it “David’s Triplet #1.5.” (Consequently, my next triplet became “David’s Triplet #3”; there was never a #2.) Later I discovered that Linda Leslie wrote the same dance much earlier than I did:

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David’s Triplet #3 ****
February 2002
Triplet

 A1 Ones cast down one place (as the 2s move up) (4)
Change places passing right shoulders and face threes (4)
Ones and threes: right and left through up and down the set, then take right hands with this neighbor (twos at the top also give right hands to one another) (8)
 A2 Balance, pull by right, with the next pull by left
Balance the third, box the gnat to face back the other way
 B1 Pull by two people (right hand and left hand)
And swing the one you meet (the first person you balanced), end facing in
 B2 All six circle left halfway
Top two couples swing your partner, end facing up

Ends in 3-1-2 order.

On the weekend of March 2-3, 2002, three groups of callers met to dance through all 41 of Ted Sannella’s triplets. This dance was written a few weeks earlier to honor Ted and that occasion. Ted often based his triplets on other pleasing dances. In that tradition, this one is based on Steve Zakon-Anderson’s Three Thirty-Three, whose distinctive figure appears in the A2 and B1 parts.

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Love and a Bottle for Contra dancers (or David’s Triplet #9) ****
October 2022
Triplet

 A1 Ones figure-8 down the set as follows:
– #1R does the figure-8 between the twos: cross down and loop right into partner’s place, then cross down again and loop left to home place
– #1L does the figure-8 between the two others on their own side: follow partner between those two and loop left around bottom of line, go out between the same two again and loop right to home place at the top
 A2 Ones down the center, turn alone
Return and cast off
 B1 Ones turn contra corners
 B2 Ones swing, ending on own side facing partner
Clap in a patta-cake pattern (own hands, partner’s right, own hands, partner’s left) and then cast down the outside to the bottom as the threes move up

Ends in 2-3-1 order.

In A1, I need to identify individual dancers to describe the figure-8. #1R is on the right file of the dance (as dancers face up, the right hand is outside), and #1L on the left file. All couples, including couple 1, are “proper,” but ones face down to begin, so #1R actually begins with right hand as inside hand. This is potentially confusing for contra dancers, especially when described with words only. However, the figure-8 pattern is unusual enough that it benefits from using a demo to teach. A demo will make the entire pattern easier to see.

Created for and first tested at the Dvorana Country Dance Festival in Prague. This is a “contrafied” version of a Playford English country dance from 1710.

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Going Dutch ****
May 2006
Tempest formation (description of formation)

 A1 Ones down the hall 4-in-line, turn as couples
Return, face the nearest side couple
 A2 All right-hand star halfway, twos left-hand star halfway
All right-hand star halfway, ones left-hand star halfway
 B1 These four circle left 3/4 and neighbors swing
 B2 Circle left 3/4 and partners swing, end with twos facing in
and ones facing down

My friend, Carmen Giunta created an English Country style dance based on Another Part of the Island, which he calls Star-Crossed Tempest. It is quite different from this dance, full of setting, poussettes and what not. I swiped the stars figure in A2 and reinserted it back into my contra-style dance. My title is a nod to Ernst van Brakel’s marvelous Dutch Crossing, which has a chorus figure that resembles the figure I took from Carmen.

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