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October 01, 2017

Amble On East

Level: Intermediate

A1: Long Lines Forward & Back
       Ladies Chain Across

A2: Ladies Dosido 1x
       Neighbor Swing

B1: Give & Take to the Gents' side, 1/2 Pousette [1] [2]
       With Next Neighbors, Facing Star 3/4 (Ladies Backing Up)

B2: Partner Right Shoulder 'Round & Swing [3]


[1] I usually teach this dance by first prompting "This figure is going to begin like a Give & Take to the Gents' side, but instead do a Half Pousette to trade places with your current neighbors." It's been pointed out to me, however, that in prompting with the music, shortening the call to just "Give & Take" sometimes causes dancers to go into autopilot and swing immediately instead of completing the Half Pousette.
[2] There's a ton of music to fill with this move, so encouraging contra dancers to take their time and use four full beats to move out, and four beats to move in to join the Facing Star is really important.
[3] Some dancers prefer to do a long (16-count) swing here instead of a Right Shoulder 'Round & Swing. I let dancers know that either is fine!


This dance was written on the road while returning from Youth Dance Weekend 2017 to Cambridge, MA, where I was calling for the BIDA Dance that same night. I had done a lot of really fabulous English Country Dancing while at YDW, and felt the need to bring some of that flowy, beautiful vibe to the contra dance that night. 

November 12, 2016

Come At Me, Bro

Level: Beginner

A1: Neighbor Gypsy & Swing

A2: Long Lines Forward & Back
       Gents Allemande L 11/2

B1: Hey (Partner R to Start)

B2: Partner Balance & Swing
      All end swing facing new couple on Right Diagonal.

      Ladies stay put [2], Gents cross directly [3] to New Neighbor, beginning

      the  Gypsy from across the set.


[1] This dance is most easily taught from Improper formation, though the savvy among us will recognize that the dance is secretly in Becket formation, ending with a Partner Swing.  At the ends of the line, dancers will sometimes wait out in Becket, sometimes in Improper, and it doesn't matter much either way.

[2] This is super-important to stress during the walk-through.  The Ladies will have an urge to meet their next Neighbor, especially if their timing is late.  If the Ladies don't anchor the location of that swing, however, things might get a little tricky.  Fortunately, the Long Lines figure in A2 allows for ample recovery from most flubs!

[3] Gents pass their previous (current) neighbor Gent by the Left shoulder. 



This is a much improved version of the first dance I ever wrote, by the same name.  I love using it to teach the Hey in the first half of my program, since it includes a new figure for the experienced dancers to chew on while being otherwise pretty benign.  The timing is forgiving, and aside from requiring a careful walk-through, I'm very proud of this dance's overall accessibility. This modified dance was completed in Luke Donforth's Kitchen, in Burlington Vermont.

February 28, 2016

Dr. Whiting's Delight

Level: Intermediate (harder for the caller than for the dancers!)

A1: Circle L 3/4

       N Swing

A2: Long Lines Forward, Gents Rollaway Neighbor on way Back
       1/2 Hey (Begins Gents by Right)
B1: Gents Gypsy Right and Cross-hand-grip Swing [1]
       While Ladies Orbit CCW All the way around [2]
B2: Gents keep Right, take Left with Neighbor in Short Wave, all facing Direction of Progression [3]
       Balance Wave Forward & Back 
       All walk forward, New gents pass by Right [4]
       Partner Swing

[1] The Gents' Cross-hand Swing often begins with a Right Allemande grip, before the left hand grip and buzz-step are incorporated.  When done correctly, this swing will be comfortable and safe for the Gents, and will also transition effortlessly into taking hands in the short wave across.

[2] Taking the time to teach the ladies to pass adjacent orbiting ladies by the Left, Olympic Rings Style, does a lot to make this part of the dance more interesting for them.

[3] It's super useful to outline direction of progression for the dancers at the beginning of the walk-through.
[4] I used to call this as a short "Hook" Right Allemande when I led it, but Lisa Greenleaf advised me to modify it so add to not involve hands. Either way, It's easy for folks to autopilot in this part of the dance and expect to form a new wave, when it's really more like a swing through.


While this dance requires incredibly careful teaching and incorporates lots of new choreography for most dancers, it is a pleasure to dance.  It is at once smooth and jaunty, and it tells a really good story:

This dance was written for a good friend and Florida dancer, Dr. Bernard Whiting, a physicist at the University of Florida who in 2016 was one of the leading scientists responsible for the historical first observation of Gravitational Waves.  This dance describes the process of that observation, with two black holes (the Gents) first orbiting and then colliding (swinging).  The resulting "Wave" made in the fabric of spacetime (largely represented by the Ladies' interweaving trajectory) travels through space, and is observed here on Earth (for a Partner Swing).

December 14, 2013

60 Times Around the Sun

Level: Challenging

A1: Circle Right 1/2, Slide Right with Neighbor

       Slide Left to Circle Left 1/2 with Neighbor and Shadow

A2: Pass through up-and-down, Passing Shadow by the Right

       Gents Allemande L 11/2 while Ladies Orbit Clockwise 1/2

      1/2 Hey (Partner R to start)

B1: Partner Gypsy & Swing
B2: Right & Left through, Courtesy Turn with Partner

      1/2 Promenade Across, Gents passing Left shoulders and couples 
      Looping Left [1] to face New Neighbors

[1] Sometimes referred to as a "J-Hook Promenade"



This dance requires a well-educated walk-through, since it includes so many unusual features: circling right, leaving the minor set, even circling half-way and promenading with a loop to the left.  For an able crowd, however, this dance provides beautiful flow and long phrases; dancers never stop moving.

Written for my mother, Anne Gilroy, for her 60th birthday.  


See it being danced at Dancing With The GODS 2017, with me calling to the fabulous music of Buddy System here. You'll see a lot of struggling towards the beginning, but by the middle of the video, dancers have got it, and are dancing beautifully.

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