"I was asked by Penelope [Weinberger]. [I'm] always up for a new challenge in calling contras," he says.
"[dJ improper and I] had a few brief discussions in advance, but mostly addressed how things would flow just prior to the dance. This was mostly concerned with timing, how to 'read' his display to help in the event that dancers moved off the phrasing, and how transitions would work."
Given the preparation involved, I found it particularly interesting to hear what Ted thought were the surprises in the experience: "I think the biggest surprise is how well certain types of music work for this genre, and how well certain types fail. Rhythm is clearly the dominant structure for most pieces of music, but the melodic themes also make a huge difference in the energy of the dancers.... The biggest difference [between traditional and alternative contra] is that there is very much less phrasing information available to the dancers [in alternative contras]. Consequently, using dances with more basic moves helps a great deal. Besides, doing intricate dances can get in the way of enjoying the music.... [It's] all a part of the larger continuum of enjoying social dance. It's not for everyone, but it is a fun way to enjoy contra."
Would he do it over again? "Absolutely. I would try and figure out a few dances that might specifically link up to medleys devised by our DJ."
Ted will get a chance to implement that when he and dJ improper put on a techno contra at the Tapestry Folkdance center in Minneapolis, MN on August 23, 2012. Many thanks to him for talking with Contra Syncretist!