Contra calling

On Saturday night I called the Sierra Contra Dance Society contra dance in Reno. This was my first full dance outside of Carson City, and I was pretty nervous about it. But is went well!

I’ve shared a number of dances with Darla and George in Carson City, but this was the first for which I programmed the entire evening. I called Baby Rose, Lucky 7, Reel Easy, Salmon Chanted Evening, Box the Gnat, Flirtation Reel, Dip and Dive, and Chama River Reel. I tried to call Riding the Waves, but didn’t do well at the walk through and abandoned it before we danced, probably not quite quickly enough. I need to practice this one more before trying it again.

I had noticed all fall that during the waltzes, which at the last dance before break and the end of the evening, very few people were dancing and most people were sitting out. A lot of people think that they can’t waltz, or that waltz is hard, but I think that almost anyone can learn to waltz and at least do an acceptable level. So I offered a brief waltz workshop, including some etiquette, the 6-count step, the frame with partner, traveling, turning, and cuddle. And then we waltzed! All but two people waltzed, and all did well. It was such a job to me to see a room full of waltzers with smiles on their faces. People were very pleased with what they could do. I received many thanks, and some requests for more workshop. For those of you who have heard me talk about waltz, I have almost a missionary zeal about it, enjoying it more than any other dance. Though I can’t explain it, yet, I sense that there is some physical, emotional and spiritual magic about waltz, the music (3/4 time) and the movement.

I’m not quite sure where I’m going with calling. I’m not scheduled anywhere. As I’ve watched friends become regionally and nationally known callers, I’ve seen the level of commitment it takes, and I’m not sure about my level of commitment, nor for that matter, my level of skill. I’m amazed when I watch others call, both the individual dances and the programming of the evening or weekend. Could I do that? Not sure. But in any case, I’m pleased with the outcome of this particular evening.

You can see more info about the Sierra Contra Dance Society which dances on the second Saturday of the month in Reno. To find out if there is a dance in your town, just enter “contra dance” and the name of your town into a search and see what shows up. If you are wondering how hard it is, it is the dance about which is is said, “If you can walk, you can dance.” Each dance is taught by the caller, and then called during the dance for as long as it takes for all the dancers to learn it well enough that they don’t need the calling anymore.

About Dan Allison

Dan Allison is a Safe Routes to School Coordinator in the Sacramento area. Dan dances and backpacks, as much as possible.
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