Hi all, Just wanted to take a moment to say hi to the new readers on this blog, and make a few announcements/requests:
(Don't worry, the Friday Flourish has updated as usual, scroll down.)
1. I've been combing the Internet looking for people who have called/organized/spun/etc. various techno and crossover contra events. If you know anyone who falls into this category, especially those I haven't talked to yet (see the list on the right of the blog page as a guide to people I've discussed on this blog in some capacity), please send them my way
2. I am also actively looking for bands who are doing something nontraditional with contra music. Send them my way too
, or post about them in the Forum
-- albums or bands, either one works for me; I'll happily review the albums or go talk to the band members if I can get my hands on contact info.
3. I've been hearing inklings about several private parties back in the late '90's that some people are saying actually might have been the very first spontaneous crossover contras, predating the Whipperstompers and YDW events in 2008. I would love
to hear from folks
that were at or organized some of these for a possible future blog post. 4. As we've been saying every week on the Contra Syncretist YouTube Channel, we're constantly on the lookout for new flourishes. Upload them or send them our way, and they may end up featured as a Friday Flourish!
5. I've got more features and pages in the pipeline for this site that I'm hoping to roll out later this summer, and I do take suggestions for same from the peanut gallery. If you have ideas, please drop me a line
This week we continue our foray into dancing switch, covering some of Steve's favorite ways to trade back the lead. No follows were harmed in the making of this video, nor should they be while dancing switch.Please send in your flourishes! You too could be featured on this blog!Happy Friday.CS
So I went to go check my Gmail account the other day, and what should I see but an entry in the Gmail blog featuring one of their dedicated staffers
. I took a look and it turned out that in her spare time, this person was involved in the Decadance
dance troupe based out of Stanford, CA. They've been active for most of the past decade and specialize in combining different forms of social dance to various recorded tunes (some contemporary, some traditional). So I took a look at their YouTube channel
and the videos on their web site
. They seem to be more focused on other forms of social dance, but they do seem to have a healthy dose of folk and set dancing in there as well. (I think I've actually seen a couple of balance-and-swing variants like these from individual and pairs of dancers in contras at Glen Echo -- also, the twirly skirts in this first one are awesome
Is it just me, or does the first dance in this next video look like someone took a polka and a square dance and possibly a Kerry set and threw them in a blender? (Speaking of, I wonder how hard it would be to adapt something like that first one into a called square dance variant....)
I also liked some of the simple-but-elegant transitions between partners found in this video on Decadance's actual site
(link opens in new window and uses Quicktime -- sorry, I couldn't find it on YouTube.)Have you seen more
interesting fusions between traditional and contemporary styles in your Internet wanderings? Let me know, either by using the Contact Me
form or in the comments!
This week we start talking about that bit of dancing gender-free or just having fun with your partner when you agree to dance switch. This week's flourish is about giving the lead to your partner; it can be a bit disorienting at first but once you practice it a bit it can be a lot of fun (just make sure you unambiguously dance the role you're supposed to be in at any given point to avoid confusing other dancers, especially if you're a male-female pair who's dancing with the female as lead and the male as follow).
Carry on Dancing,
Apparently down in North Carolina they got local TV station WHNS to come out to cover one of their techno contras and air the story a couple of weeks back. Go take a look!
Right before your friendly neighborhood crossover contra blogger left for vacation, she caught up with Ann Fallon, who called the Contra Sonic
dance in Arlington, VA on June 22, to talk about what it was like for Ann to call her first techno contra. Unlike some people, Ann had attended a couple of Contra Sonic events before she called, one before and one after the move to Artisphere in the Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington, VA. She had watched a few format changes over the course of the series as well: “The first Contra Sonic I attended had several very long medleys, and I understand that some of the ones after that one had long medleys as well, one being an hour long. The format at DC Contra Sonic has evolved to regular length dances, with the emphasis being on keeping to simpler dances with low piece counts so the dancers can just dance to the music.”
The experience of calling traditional contra and techno contra did not differ as much as she thought it would. “I was concerned about possibly losing my place in the music. I’m not very familiar with the tunes used for crossover contras,” she says. “Although I knew that Jeremiah [Seligman, a.k.a. dJ improper
] made the tunes be dance length, 64 beats, etc., and of course I know how to count beats, some of the music I had heard at the dances I attended seemed to have unclear phrasing. I knew there would be an 8 count intro rather than the usual 4 … and I was prepared to count throughout each dance. But it was easier than I thought to keep track of the parts of the dance, and …. and this was awesome … the dancers were so attuned to the music and for the most part were very experienced, they had absolutely no trouble hearing the phrasing and keeping the dance where it belonged. So I began each dance counting rather than ‘feeling’ the phrasing as I would normally do … but I didn’t count for very long … maybe twice through the dance.”
When is a swing not a swing? This is a flourish you can do in the space of a swing if you want to switch it up. I'm pretty sure this one came from one of Steve's YouTube wanderings (probably a video from Asheville, NC again).
You, too, could have your flourishes featured on this blog! Post them to YouTube and let me know they're there through the Contact
form and they might be featured!Happy Friday!Carry on Dancing,CS
On June 4, Club Contras caller and organizer Brian Hamshar
and Sheldon “DJ Shel D” Lieberman debuted Technophoria
, a techno contra event that they now plan to expand into a series; while the first one was in Asheville, NC, they’re looking at possibly making it a floating series in different venues. Unlike some others, this series uses a seasoned professional DJ to mix the tunes. I caught up with DJ Shel D to see what he had to say about the experience and what drove the idea of Technophoria.
“The idea behind Technophoria as an event came about because of my experience at a contra dance where they ‘experimented’ with contra dancing to alternative styles of music. With my previous experience as a studio DJ (mixing music at a local radio station in Brattleboro, Vermont) I knew that I could professionally
mix and produce a show, and take ‘Techno Contra’ into the mainstream of contra dancing. The prospect of contributing to the evolution of contra and be the person to set the new standard in Techno Contra got me very excited!”
This flourish is one that isn't done very much but is very fun, and I've seen it pulled a few times on the dance floor. It looks rather impressive but at its heart is not exceptionally difficult -- maybe more people will add it to their repertoires if they see how to do it.
Your flourishes could be here, too! Upload your flourishes to YouTube and then let me know about them on the Contact form! You, too, could be a featured flourisher on this blog!
Carry on Dancing,
Did you know that you don't necessarily have to come to this page to see the latest Contra Syncretist interviews and videos? As much as I love it when you all stop by, this blog can also come to you!
A Facebook page is currently in development, but right now there is an RSS feed if you want to bring the Contra Syncretist straight to your RSS readers:http://www.contrasyncretist.com/1/feed
It is also accessible through the link at right, under "RSS Feed."
Now, if you will excuse me, I just returned from a week and a half overseas and I am exhausted despite my relative lack of dancing (Steve did lots, with his morris side -- I just got swept into a couple of rollicking polkas in cobble-stoned Dutch city squares when the musicians decided to finish off the stands). Among the highlights of the trip was a Dutch accordionist who, having played for English morris dancing all day, turned around and played a song by American Hank Williams in an Italian restaurant in Utrecht...how's that
for mixing a few traditions?Special thanks go to Keith Holman, who posted my entries to the blog while I was away!Regular content will resume Friday, with the Friday Flourish video as usual. Coming up in the next couple of weeks, I will be posting my interviews with Maryland-based caller Ann Fallon, who called for DC's Contra Sonic series in June, and with Sheldon "DJ Shel D" Lieberman, who organized and spun for Technophoria in Asheville, NC.
Carry on Dancing,