Contras, etc. (Untested)

Tried and True Contras
Beta Contras
Master List of All Dances

Duple improper

Becket formation

Duple proper


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Ross’s Reel #2 *****
June 2020
Duple improper

 A1 Neighbors balance and swing
 A2 (4) Ones allemande right just over half and take left hands with a neighbor to form a wave-of-4 on the right diagonal (the pair above is with a current neighbor — partner of the one you swung; the pair below is with a new neighbor)
(4) Balance this wave
(4) Ones a strong right-hand turn back to the same wave
(4) Balance again
 B1 Ones turn contra corners (first corners are in the wave)
 B2 Ones balance and swing, end facing down

Originally composed in 2003. Revised in June 2020. Changes have not yet been road-tested.

Finish the neighbor swing in time for ones to be ready with their right hands in A2. Then, finding the correct neighbor will be key to forming the diagonal wave. The twos are facing diagonally right, just as they will to turn their first contra corner (but the active person in the wave is not your first corner; their partner will be your first corner).

The dance is named for Ross’s Reel #4, a grand old tune that fits the dance well. This is Ross’s Reel #2, because I revised the original version, “Ross’s Reel.”

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Trip to the Shore **
June 2020
Duple improper

 A1 Neighbors do-si-do
Neighbors swing
 A2 First corners change places; partners balance
Partners swing
 B1 Second corners change places; partners change places
Circle left once around, hang on
 B2 Dive for the oyster, dig for the clam; shoot through the hole to the promised land

“First and second corners” are the same as contra corners, except (this being an easy dance) you only interact with corners from your own foursome.

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A Turn for the Better ****
May 2019
Duple improper

 A1 Circle left once around
Neighbors swing
 A2 First corners (within your foursome) change places (4), second corners change as well and then join hands with the other #1 dancer (4)
Circle left 3-hands just over 1x, until ones are in the center and twos are across from each other; ones make an arch and pull the two through
 B1 Partners balance and swing
 B2 Balance the ring, spin to the right as in Petronella
Balance the ring, California twirl

When the corners change places in A2, they pass by right shoulder (the default).

Based on Paul Balliet’s Threes Company and Lisa Greenleaf’s Threes Crowd.

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Flex Time ***
March 2022
Becket, counterclockwise

 A1 Balance the ring, Petronella spin one place to the right and take hands-4 again
Couple above, “mountaineer loop” (see note)
 A2 Balance the ring again, California twirl to face new neighbors, take hands-4
Couple now above, mountaineer loop
 B1 Circle left halfway and neighbors swing
 B2 Circle left 3/4 and partners swing (the next round begins with these neighbors)

The mountaineer loop is a figure borrowed from southern big circle dancing. It starts and ends in the same hands-4. Bottom couple make an arch. Without anyone releasing hands, top couple dive under the arch, and then separate and dance back to place. When they separate, of course, they do release each other’s hand, but all other hands stay connected. The couple making the arch will turn toward one another under their own hands to make it all work, a move sometimes called “wring the dishrag.”

I am not the first to use the mountaineer loop in a contra dance. Becky Hill’s dance Roll Over Johannes uses the same figure. Larry Edelman’s square dance sequence called Geezy Peezy also uses the figure. He calls it “rip-and-snort,” a term borrowed from Herb Greggerson. Greggerson’s rip-and-snort is a figure for eight people, but in Geezy Peezy it is done with four, making it identical to the mountaineer loop.

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For Those Who Dared ****
July 2020
Becket, clockwise

 A1 Shift left and circle left 3/4
Neighbors swing
 A2 Chain across
Those below half figure eight up between your partners
 B1 Same two turn contra corners
 B2 Same two allemande right 1-1/4
Partners swing on the side

Omit the progression (shift left) the first time through.

This is my variation of a dance by Linda Leslie called “For Those Who Paired.” Linda based the title on Tony Parkes’s contra corner dance “For Those Who Cared.”

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Nifkin Lounge ***
October 2019
Becket, clockwise

 A1 Balance the ring and spin to the right (as in Petronella)
Neighbors swing
 A2 Full chain, over and back
 B1 Balance the ring and spin to the right
Partners swing
 B2 Left diagonals change places (passing right shoulder), right diagonals the same
Circle left halfway and shift left to new neighbors

Named for a space on the campus of SUNY ESF (Environmental Science and Forestry) where we had a little dance one late night.

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Noble and Generous Cetacean ****
July 2021
Becket, clockwise

 A1 Slide left to new neighbors, circle left 3/4
Neighbors swing, face down
 A2 Down the hall 4-in-line, turn as couples (putting ones in the center)
Return and hand cast all the way (back to a line across), ones face right-wall and twos face in
 B1 Dolphin hey, starting right shoulder…
 B2 One more change of the hey to bring all to original sides, and partners swing

Omit the progression (slide left in A1) the first time through.

Based on a dance called HumanKind, by Echo Lustig. (My title goes with another species.) Her dance got me thinking about how I might make contra dances that used the dolphin hey. The result was a pair of dances: this one and Anglo File (where you can find a description of the dolphin hey).

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Some Pig ***
June 2020
Becket, counterclockwise and double progression

 A1 Balance the ring and spin to the right as in Petronella
Balance the ring, California twirl
 A2 Next neighbors balance and swing
 B1 Pass through across the set, turn away from this neighbor
New neighbors swing
 B2 Circle left 3/4 and partners swing

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Buttermilk Biscuits **
July 2020
Duple proper

 A1 Ones half figure-8 down the set
Ones swing
 A2 Down the hall 4-in-line
Turn alone, return and face neighbor
 B1 Neighbors balance and swing
 B2 Long lines forward and back
Ones half figure-8 up the set

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The Duchess of Sussex ***
February 2020
Duple proper

 A1 Ones allemande right once and fall back to place
Ones allemande left 1-1/2, changing places
 A2 Neighbors balance and swing, end facing up in a line-of-4
 B1 Lines forward and back (toward the band)
Ones cross up the middle and cast (unassisted) down while twos meet, lead up, loop away from each other, and face back in; all end in progressed places
 B2 Right and left through over and back

A pseudo-chestnut based on the classic dance, Queen Victoria.

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Wild Idea ****
May 2020 / March 2023
Duple proper

 A1 Circle left 1x
Balance the ring, spin to the right (as in Petronella)
 A2 Those now [above go down] [below go up] the center two-by-two, turn alone
Return, cast off with partner
 B1 Pass through across and partners swing, end facing across
 B2 (~6) Half open right-hand chain: those with right hand free pull by, neighbors allemande left until those who pulled by are facing in again
(~10) Ones chase counterclockwise up around twos: “First around two and your partner cut through” (see note)

In A2, alternate the words in the first set of brackets with those in the other set of brackets every other time.

Modeled on Martha Wild’s dance, Best of Friends. Wild Idea is a bit more complex than Martha’s dance. Eliminating alternating the calls in brackets would be one way to make it somewhat simpler.

The final chase figure for the ones is sometimes called “the old side door” in Appalachian dances. The ones are crossed over at this point. The chase (up and around the twos) returns them to their original side. So, ones may take an alternate path, but should strive to end on original sides. Here is the official path: Ones end the open chain below the twos with one person facing out and the other facing across toward their partner’s back. The one in the lead turns left, dances up the outside one place, crosses the set, and dances down the outside to end on original side. Their partner follows, across the set and up and around a neighbor, but then takes a shortcut down the center to end on their original side. The suggested timing (for callers) is because the open chain does not really need 8 counts, and the chase will benefit from being a bit less rushed.

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David’s Triplet #8 ***
August 2022

 A1 Mirror heys-for-3, threes between twos (2s casting down) to begin; include 1 additional change to end in 1-3-2 order
 A2 Ones down the center, turn alone
Return and cast off
 B1 Ones turn contra corners
 B2 Ones balance and swing, end facing up (and cast down into next round)

Ends in 3-1-2 order. Repeat twice more to place.

I also have imagined a variation (David’s Triplet #8.1?) where a dip and dive replaces the mirror hey. As with the hey, the dip and dive starts from the bottom and includes one extra change. During the dip and dive, couples California twirl at each end to face back in. At the start of every round, new ones at the top also twirl to swap (technically a star thru, but “face up and California twirl” gets them there). Similarly, in A2, twos at the bottom do one last California twirl while ones start down the center. This is all rather quirky, and I’m curious to see how dancers react when they try it:

Variation ****
Triplet, starts with 2s improper

 A1 Twos facing down/others up, dip and dive all six:
– To begin, ones twirl to swap while threes dive between twos
– Include 1 additional change to end in 1-3-2 order
 A2 (4) Ones down the center while twos (who have just reached the bottom) twirl to swap and fall back to line proper
(4) Ones turn as a couple (all are now proper)
(8) Ones return and cast off to end in middle place
 B1 Ones turn contra corners
 B2 Ones balance and swing (end facing down)

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