Links

California Dance Co-op
This is the organization that presents most of the contra dances in the Los Angeles Area.

Living Traditions
This organization presents a dance on the fourth Saturday of the month in Anaheim. It was this dance that we first attended and it holds special significance to us.

Hands Four
By Greg Rohde
This is the the article I wish I had written. Greg's descriptions of what contra dance is, how it is done, and why he does it hits very close to my feelings about it. This is the best primmer I have found.

English Country Dance
My page of Pictures and videos of English Country Dances.

Photos
Click on the link and you will be taken to a gallery of the photos.
Videos

Click the picture or link to load the videos. Depending on your connection speed, there will be a wait before they start playing in a new window.
These are all large files.
Don't try to load these unless you have a high speed connection.

Labor Day Dance Away 2009
Julian, CA
September 4 - 7
California Dance Coop

Jennifer circling
Photos of Labor Day Dance Away 09

What a difference a year makes. This was the first dance camp we had ever attended, just one year ago. So many more people I know and recognize this year. It still amazes me how well the room moves when it has so many good dancers in it. How quickly mistakes disappear and how in sync the room is to the music.
Notorious and Tidal Wave were the bands. I love how it feels like they are dancing with me, great playing with good dynamics taking me through the movement. Lynn Ackerson and Robert Cromartie were the callers. Lynn's clear communication and walking around the floor seemed very hands on and increased the community feel. Robert often had a scenario to play out in the dances that gave fun motivational imagery to the dances. A full range in styles in each set of dances they called. The smooth, lyrical dances seemed particularly flowing with graceful transitions this weekend.
The food was fine but not as nice as I remembered it from last year. The floor was still very fast, slick. It made it difficult to put a lot of power into any moves. I took the suggestion of letting it help me develop a better sense of balance which it did. I had some very sore hip muscles.
Lance and Sarah Little brought Carrie Ann and the new twins, Julia Rose and Egan. Lots of baby mojo was enjoyed by so many folks holding the babies. What fun. It was a delight to dance with Sarah as she felt free of the kids and was able to enjoy the dance.

Balance the Bay 2009
San Francisco
August 14 - 16
Bay area Country Dance Society

Lisa and Eric Waltzing
Photos of Balance the Bay Dance Weekend

This is a big urban dance weekend. With 230 registered this is the largest event I have ever traveled to. I was surprised by how many people I knew. In March, at the BACDS Spring Weekend, I knew only two people when I arrived, in the mean time I have been to two other major events and about a half dozen dances with folks from the bay area. I have found welcoming, friendly people who know how to put on a fun filled dance weekend.
Adina Gordon, from Ashville, North Carolina called the weekend along with the locally cherished Joyce Miller from Grass Valley. Both callers programmed intricate approachable dances and lead them with clear, friendly calling. Swing Farm, a much loved local band gave the traditional sound a jazz edge, particularly from the piano. Very fun and dance inducing. This was the first time I have heard the band Crow Foot from Maine or is it Michigan? Somewhere back east. They have a solid traditional sound and a modern energy. I particularly liked featured sections of the wood flute played far more aggressively than the stuff Wild Asparagus does. It reminded me of Ian Anderson’s solo flute work in front of the rock band Jethro Tull. What a great timbre for Contra.
I went to both couple dance workshops that Richard Powers presented. I got a great deal from them. I really appreciated his always positive approach and his bottom line that if your dancing and it works for the two of you, then it must be right. His passion and enthusiasm for dance came through in every minute of the workshops. Very fun and informative to attend.
It was great to see so many people I knew and have enjoyed dancing with. I was not disappointed. Several of my homies from LA and several semi-homies from San Diego and Santa Barbara were there. It was strange that there were so many dancers that even during the last dance of the weekend I would find myself dancing with a neighbor I couldn’t remember dancing with before.

Even though I will freely admit I have one, I don’t want to find the twelve-step program for this addiction.

I didn’t have my good camera on me Saturday and most of the photos I took that day with the iPhone came out blurry so I only posted a few. I didn’t have the opportunity to shoot any Video so there is none to post here.

 

American Week 2009
Mendocino Woodlands
July 4 - 11
Bay area Country Dance Society

Lisa and Eric Waltzing
Photos of American Week

What a bunch of fun! A whole week dancing. I had a great time.
The callers were Lisa Greenleaf, Linda Leslie & Chris Bischoff and the bands were The Avant Gardeners, Notorious, and Tidal Wave. So needless to say there was great music and dancing everywhere. Every night there was a dance that was full of very skillful and spirited dancers dancing to great music.
The setting was great. Cute redwood plank cabins nestled on the hill sides in among the trees. A great dance hall made with huge beams and massive log trusses. Balmy summer weather. And lots of people that loved being there.
Linda ran a morning contra workshop where each day focused on a single choreographer and the particular way their dances flowed. It was great to have the time to focus the movement and transitions in detail. It also very pleasant to be dancing in the morning and with a set of very good dancers.
Matthew Duveneck taught an Argentine tango class that explored how the tango works through connections I picked up many interesting steps but mostly I got a sense of these connections and how they worked in the Tango. These same connections clearly exist whenever you dance and it has given me an awareness and focus on the contra floor that has deepened my joy and experience there. I perhaps feel the closest to the fellow dancers in that class. I also got some personal clarity about couple dancing and how dancing the lead is really effective when it is a series of distinctly cued invitations. What an eye opening experience. Notorious played for this class. Imagine having to shush them.
Matthew also taught a Western Swing class in the afternoons. I finely understand how a two step in three counts can be danced to a four count rhythm. And I actually danced my first complete two step dance at and evening dance. (short, short, long, long, Thank you Melissa) and got a bit of confidence with arm moves and moving around with a partner.
After lunch there was a callers workshop session where the half dozen or so caller students worked on their calling with a band and dancers. Imagine Tidal Wave as a workshop band. They asked campers to join them so there would be enough for a decent set. There was usually around eight to a dozen couples of some of the most playful, and skilled dancers that made a delightful and fun filled hour and a half. When the students finished calling early, as a group we would get Lynn to call some fun, complicated dance. This is where I took up Lynn's invitation to try calling. She (and Susan Petrick and Karen Fontana) were very supportive. It felt like the perfect place to try. It didn't matter how badly I called, these great, fun dancers didn't need any calling anyway. And they all wanted me to succeed. The clincher was that I would have Tidal Wave playing for me, what a great way to try it out. This is a link to a recording of the experience. If you need a HUGE ego boost, and I didn't see this coming, call a dance for the first time in your life in front of nothing but friendly faces, then dance with them for the next caller. You get a new smiling face in your arms telling how great you did every thirty seconds for the next ten minutes. Wow. Call your second dance at a packed camper night, same ego boosting experience and everyone knows your name.
I tried Buck Dancing that Chris Bischoff taught. It was very interesting to see how all those sounds can be made. But it was just too hard on my feet and joints.
Chris also did some very entertaining story telling at the picnic and around the fire.

I remember being in the middle of a dance that Linda Leslie was calling one evening and her clear, gentle, positive voice seemed to be connected directly to my feet, needing no interpretation by me. The music fit the dance perfectly and was playing dynamically with the steps. I had a perfect connection with my partner as we shared the vocabulary of the dance and the subtle nuances of our movements spoke completely about the moment and space and held in the rhythm of those around us. It all fit together. Every bit of it. Like most of it will do at a really good dance. But all of it did here. I could not think of any way that it could get better than that moment. I was a very happy dancer.

 

Mt Baldy Dance Weekend 2009
at Harwood Lodge

March 20 - 22
The Living Traditions


Photos of Mt Baldy Dance Weekend

With a total of 46 people attending, this lived up to its billing as an intimate dance weekend. There was a lot of pitching-in that made the weekend successful and gave it more of a sense of community than any other weekend I have been to thus far. It was held in the Sierra Club's Harwood Lodge. The furniture was removed from the main room so that it could be used for dancing. The rustic stone and timber lodge was built in the 1930s and felt like a location out of an old musical or an Agatha Christie mystery novel.

Jeremy Korr was our caller for the weekend. He had an historical workshop on Saturday that was fun and informative. I had to work on Sunday so I left on Saturday night and missed the remainder of the dances being canceled due to snow fall and deteriorating road conditions.

There was a surprising little moment that I missed getting photos of because it went by so fast. Before the waltz at the break, there was a parade of the traditional strawberry dessert around the floor and back to the kitchen. One of those fun, quick moments that stay with you.

 

Spring Weekend 2009 at Monte Toyan
March 13 - 15
Bay area Country Dance Society


Photos of Spring Weekend

These are photos I took over the March 14th weekend at camp Monte Toyan near Santa Cruz. What good fun. The main draw for me, beyond that I could get away from work to go, was that the weekend had both Contra and English Country Dancing at the same event. There were parallel tracks of a sort so at just about any time you had a choice between the two. Contra has hooked me hard and I went to far more Contra Dances but with each English dance I do I am discovering greater joy in it. I danced with many talented English dancers that revealed it to me. There were two big evening dances each night. It was fun to see how easily many dancers went from one to the other. All three callers, Bob Isaacs, Linda Leslie, and Jenny Beer, were first rate.

I am really loving these weekend events. The concentrated dancing is a joy. But all those really great dancers that come make it a pleasure. Their focus, intensity, joy, and skill make it worth the doing. I am really enjoying being in a group of these dancers. I have tried to point out a few of these wonderful people in the photos. Please, please, please forgive me if I got any names wrong.

I didn't get any photos of the choreography workshop that Bob Isaacs lead. It was insightful to see the ten steps he goes through but most interesting to me was trying to solve the practical idea that Erik suggested. The eight or ten of us got on our feet and started spacing it out. I couldn't help but draw the parallels to what we do in theatre. The idea Erik had was a moment with you and your partner (neighbor rolling out of a star promenade and your partner rolling in) the group of us were trying to set this up, that was the moment, the meat of the dance. Nothing else mattered until that moment worked. It was like setting up Romeo seeing Juliet on her balcony or George and Emily talking over their homework under the "terrible" moon in Our Town. The rest of the play doesn't matter until these moments work.

Fiddling Frog 2009 Pasadena California
February 27 - March 1st
California Dance Cooperative


Photos of Fiddling Frog

These are photos Jocelyn and I took over the weekend. It was the first time Matthew, Jocelyn and I attended. I had a blast! Many of my favorite dancers from the regular dances were there, along with many exceptional dancers from the region that I have come to know. That big, beautiful floor was full of them. I had a huge production in performance at work and couldn't make any of the evening dances and still I felt like I had a full weekend of dance. I was high on that Contra Mojo for a week.

Kathy Anderson Called to the music of the Lissa Schneckenberger band and Contrazz. I loved the sound of Contrazz driving the movement on the floor. Kathy's contras were great but I really loved her squares. What a master of integration. They were fun and challenging and as approachable as anything in a long line. What a joy to dance to.

I had never danced a medley before, how fun. A twenty five minute dance with six callers, many of the warm familiar voices from the local dances and a few regional folks I have wanted to hear.

Videos
These are videos that Jocelyn took.

Fiddling Frog 2009 - Collage
Some of the many moods of Frog. Calling by Kathy Anderson and music by Contrazz and The Lissa Schneckenburger Band.

Kathy Anderson at Fiddling Frog 2009
Kathy Anderson calling to the music of Contrazz

Fiddling Frog 2009 - The Waltzing Baby
Cara, Gil and Noam at Fiddling Frog 2009

Frannie at Fiddling Frog 2009
Frannie Marr calling to the music of Contrazz

 

Boxing Day Dance 2008- Citrus College
December 26
Me and Jocelyn and a bunch of friends


Photos of Boxing day

These are photos that my mom and her good friend Mary Jane took at the very first dance that Jocelyn and I produced. It was held on stage of the Haugh Performing Arts Center at Citrus College where I am the Production Manager. It was held the day after Christmas, Boxing day, and it was free. I got the use of the stage as a Contra Dance Master class with instruction and a labratory dance. The band, Molly and the Misfits put together by Barbara Anderson, played for donations and my friend Frannie called as a way to thank the contra dancers for sending her to Pinewoods caller camp in the summer. Kara and Speedy from the crew came in to set up and run sound. I hooked up the Christmas tree and the concert decor garland as decoration. We left major props from the Christmas show out in the scene studio where refreshments were served at the break by Jocelyn. I asked my mom to count heads when I thought it was at its fullest and she came up with 134. More folks came as others left. I am guessing there were 25 to 30 students, several of my colleagues, employees, and friends.
It was an amazing mix of people from the corners of my life.
I couldn't have had a a better experience. The traditional music and dance that I love so much in a different, spacious, setting where I work. So many folks had such a good time. Many poeple took the time to thank me and ask when the next dance was going to be.

What a great experience for my first time producing.

Dances of our Summer 08 Vacation Trip

Greenfield Massachusetts

Dancingin Greenfield Mass Movie
Video of Greenfield
Saturday August, 9 2008.
The one and only time we have danced at Greenfield MA at the Guiding Star Grange. A great driving band TIDAL WAVE playing their Quebecois music. I do love a diatonic accordion out front most of the night. A beautifully paced evening of fairly complex dances called by Rachel Nevitt. She was always pleasant, graceful and informative. I particularly liked "Jack's in the Kitchen" I think it was called. There was also the always interesting "Indecent Dance" which was enjoyably backward. Regulars to the dance, Adam, Pat, Charley, and Roseanne were informative and friendly to talk to. I didn't catch the name of the dance recorded here but a person who saw it on YouTube commented "These dance sequences are "Sun Dance" -- when men swing, and "Moon Dance" -- when women swing, both written by Robert Cromartie" Which I do remember Rachel mentioning.
The video is 5:00 long. The file is 165 mb.

Photos of Greenfield


Glen Echo Maryland

Glen Echo Dance Movie
Video of Glen Echo
Sunday August 17 2008
Jocelyn shot this clip at the second of the dances we attended at Glen Echo. I can't recall the name of the band, but I bought a CD titled "Beeswax Sheepskin" that has most of the players who were there that night. The caller was from New Hampshire and I can't recall his name either. The dance was held in Glen Echo's Bumper Car Pavilion. It was a fun night with good dancers. This dance seemed to have a higher percentage of experienced dancers which made it a more enjoyable experience than the Friday night dance, held in the Spanish Ballroom (what a large and beautiful room), that was three times the size and easily had thirty percent new dancers which required much simpler dances and lots of help and direction during the dances. This is just a snippet that was captured before the nearly full memory card maxed out. The file size is 21mb and it is 0:36 long

Glen Echo Photos Photos of dancing at Glen Echo

 

Labor Day Dance Away
Julian California Aug. 29 - Sept 1 2008

Labor Day Dance Friday Movie
Video of Friday
Friday night Dance
I shot this video near the end of the evening. Wild Asparagus was playing and George Marshall was calling. I tried to capture the whole dance but the battery in the camera died just before the dance ended. The video is 9:15 long. The file is 295 mb.

Sun Afternoon Dance link picture
Video of Sunday
Sunday afternoon dance.
Jocelyn shot this video clip at the the Sunday afternoon dance. The Great Bear Trio was playing and Susan Petrick was calling. It is just a piece of the dance 1:23 long. The file size is 41 mb.

LDDA Photos Photos of Labor Day Dance Away

Sorry no video of Lexington Kentucky or Dallas Texas.

Lexington Photos Photos of Lexington Kentucky