Dance Rhapsody Calling

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Thoughts about calling dances

Included below are various handouts I use at calling workshops. Feel free to download, read, comment back. If you reuse, please give credit. They are living documents, so don't be surprised if you see changes over the years. I welcome your suggestions, ideas, and smart remarks.

Basically, though, they can be summed up in a very brief format. The secret to being a good caller:

  • Dance a whole bunch.
  • Keep the dances accessible to the majority of your dancers
  • Keep the teaching and non-dancing talk short
  • Smile and emanate joy

Everything else is fine-tuning. Dance long, improper!

Seth Tepfer

These handouts are in PDF format. Email me if you have trouble opening them. Typos, inaccuracies, and outright fabrications are guaranteed. If you find something you think ought to be corrected, please tell me!

New Caller Resources:


  • Callers/Shared Weight list. Contains primarily newer contra callers, with lots of common experiences learning to call.

  • trad-dance-callers: contains dance leaders of all stripes, including contra, English, Modern Western Squares, and others. A great list for broadening your perspective.

Facebook group: Rising Contra dance callers of America

Contra Dance Calling: A Basic Text, by Tony Parkes

Websites for new callers:

Link collections:


I'm certain to be missing useful resources - email me and I'll add!

Places to gather new dances

The best way:

  • Go to your local dance, and write down every dance you do. Talk to callers, get the names and authors of dances. Record other callers (with their permission).

Websites with choreography:

Michael Dyck's Contra dance index. Some links, but basically a listing of every dance and title and where to find the dance (book, link, or other). Invaluable!


Books (available via CDSS):

  • Larry Jennings (Zesty Contras and/or Give and Take)
  • Tom Hinds
  • Becky Hill
  • Ted Sanella (Balance and Swing and/or Swing the Next)


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