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Sessions appropriate for a dance weekend

    Other Playshops

  • Cooperative Games
  • Parachute Games
  • Noodle Games



    Calling Playshops

    These playshops in calling all include a mix of lecture, handouts, exercises, discussion, and calling practice, as time permits. Feel free to pull from the topics below to craft a playshop designed for your needs.

  • Calling 101: The basics
  • Calling 102: The new dancers introduction (predance lesson)
  • Calling 103: Calling for non-dancers
  • Calling 104: Leading dances / singing games for children

  • Calling 201: Thinking about the whole picture
  • Calling 202: Programming an evening
  • Calling 203: Walk-thrus

  • Calling 301: No walk-thrus, rolling starts, Medleys, hash calling
  • Calling 302: Getting hired for dance weekends (for callers and musicians)

    English Dance Playshops

  • Introduction to English Dance
  • Your favorite English dances
  • Dutch Crossing

    Couples Dance Playshops

  • Zwiefachers!
  • Introduction to Waltz
  • Intermediate Waltz
  • Introduction to Swing
  • Introduction to Cajun Jitterbug
  • Intermediate Cajun Jitterbug
  • Introduction to Cajun Two-Step



Contra Learning Playshops

Contra Play

A session that plays with contra. Careful and safe trading with your partner, your shadow, your neighbors. Taking care of the others in the dance. Tapping in, playing 'Tag' and much more. Controlled chaos.


Contra with a flourish

A session that talks about flourishes in contra dancing, the twirls, pushbacks, using swing moves, and other fun additions. In reality this is a session on timing, taking care of neighbors/partners/rest of your set, safe dancing, and weight, disguised as a flourishes session. Lots of dancing, lots of practice of right and wrong way to do flourishes. But always through dance (not lecture).


Releasing your inner klutz

An all dance session using experiential learning to challenge the dancers to think about the dance in new ways. Surprising, silly, illuminating. But always through dance (not lecture).


Fhün Sway: energy flow in contra dance

The many gwas of contra dancing
A playshop in contra styling - how to make your dancing smoother, more flowing, and more enjoyable for yourself as well as the rest of the line. We will play with (within the context of a dance) better allemandes, courtesy turns, swings, hey, timing, weight, and more.

Magic Moments

A playshop celebrating those moments in a dance where you go "ahhhh!" Magic moments - flowing from one swing into the next; going from a circle into a circle. focusing on those moments in the dance where it all comes together.


Whimsical Playshops

Oh Partner, Where Art Thou?

Searching for your partner among a morass of other dancers. Or, how far can you go from your partner and still find them in 32 bars?

Mini-Marathon or Maxi-Medley

Non-stop contra dancing, the music and the calling never stops for anywhere from 36 - 180 minutes. Can be called solo or with other callers. Before scheduling this session, please confirm the band(s) are amenable to play non-stop for the chosen length of time!

Color Outside the Lines

Modern Contra dances focus on the duple minor improper formation, with occasional forays into 4-4 or sicillian formations. But there is a whole world of other whimsical formations to play in. Break out of the box and color outside of the lines in hexagons, triangles, double beckets, triple minors, and more. Plus: cross breed a square with a contra to get a Weston-Mountain Zia formation.

Blurring the Lines

Dancers get very attached to a set role in a dance. This playshop challenges normal assumptions about a dance. We mix up the gender role, we change places in line, we cross between the lines. This not only gives dancers permission to break the rules, it gives them an opportunities to learning about dancing from outside their usual modes.

Shadow Dancing

Dancing with two people at the same time
A playground of dances with a partner and a shadow.

Challenging Contras

Exciting, whirling, and challenging contra dances that leave you breathless with delight. New twists on familiar standards, and new standards on familiar twists! Dances that push you to think a little harder (adjusted for each group of dancers).

An examination of contra corners

Contra corners, from it's humble beginnings to modern expressions.
The holy grail of dance gypsies has many more variations than most ever see. Contra corners in a square, with hey in the middle, along the sides, with half progression and more.

Glorious, mind-blowing Squares

Squares in all their variety - visiting couple squares, partner changing, singing squares, easy breaks, challenging breaks, wacky and weird stuff.

No walk-thru contras and squares

A session of dances of all no walk-thru's, brief or bare walk-thru's, medleys and hash calling.

Grid Squares and Transgressing Contras

Squares and contras where you travel, progress, transgress all around the room.

Crossover contras

The folk process enables contra dancing to take from many different styles of dance. We will play with unusual moves taken from club square dancing, including: grand square, flutterwheel, do pa so, 2 leaf clover, and more.


Dutch Crossing

This session teaches that fiendishly challenging yet ultimately satisfying dance "Dutch Crossing" by Ernst van Brakel. The dance for 16 that has dancers hey-ing across and down, and on the diagonal while others are doing a grand right and left around. This can be done in the original English Country version ("Dutch Crossing") or the new 'contra-fied' version ("Yankee Crossing," by Joseph Pimentel (with minor changes by me)).

Family Dance

A session of dances in many different formations for children, parents, grandparents and those not yet born. Suitable for those who have never danced before.

Children's Games and Dances

A session of dances, play party songs, and games for children of all ages. Suitable for those who have never danced before.


Calling Playshops

Calling 101: the basic mechanics

What does it take to call a contra dance? The magic behind the scenes revealed. Suitable for the brave, the nervous, the mischievous, and the curious.


Calling 102: The New Dancers Introduction (pre-dance lesson)

What do new dancers really need to learn? How you can turn 15 minutes into a confidence builder and useful introduction to the calm and chaos of contra.


Calling 103: Calling for non-dancers

How to call for that wedding, business conference, kids party, wake, or presidential election. A presentation of fun, playful dances suitable for one night stand gigs and the techniques to make them work. Basically, why calling for non dancers is more fun than you might think - but the pitfalls to watch out for. But wait - that's not all you get! If you act now, you'll learn about working with CDs instead of a band. Operators standing by!


Calling 104: Calling / Leading dances and singing games for children

A number of resources and dances for kids. Expereince doing dances without any music at all, besides your voice. Basically, a bunch of songs and dances to put in your toolbox.


Calling 201: Thinking about the whole picture

So, now you know how to call a contra - or maybe even a square. Being a dance caller means much more than just competence with the mechanics of a dance. By getting on stage, you are now an example to the community. What does this mean? This session touches on walk-throughs, programming, and community building.


Calling 202: Programming an evening

Thinking about your goals for the evening, putting a cohesive program together that makes sense. What goes on before the evening and after the evening.


Calling 203: Efficient Walk throughs

Anyone can call, all it takes is the ability to count to eight. The craft is in the teaching. How can you guide your dancers through the dance with minimal effort on their part - and yours? Includes bonus material: recovery after meltdown!



Calling 301: No walk-thrus, rolling starts, Medleys, hash calling

How to pick and call for dances with no teaching. How to work with the band to have the music play while you teach the dance and flow seamlessly into the dance. How to plan a medley of dances. The secrets to hash calling, beyond practice, practice, practice.



Calling 302: How to get hired for dance weekends

Ideas for moving beyond calling locally.