improper] looked cute at me. I had never been to one, seen one, or heard one, but it worked out that I was between Tuesday night gigs and
so I said yes."
Interestingly, while "We tried to coordinate, but couldn't find an in-person time" in advance. The comedy of errors continued when Jeremiah sent files of the music, but Anna's computer failed to read them, and then Jeremiah's ride was late to the gig. The net result ended up being rather on the fly.
Fortunately, "Jeremiah had learned from his first two Contra Sonics and relayed his observations. Without his observations, we would have been dead in the water."
What was his advice?
"It was better to have dances that were too easy than too hard, and the medleys need to have moves [the dancers] know from earlier in the evening. The key was to have the dances become easier as the night goes on," Anna explains. This is different than traditional calling in that the callers tend to make the dances more complex as the night continues, building the choreography through the night and making a learning curve for new dancers.
The most difficult thing, says Anna, was calling dances the first time through. "There's no tune, no melody to follow. I had to actively count to eight [over and over] and think about the next call. It was really hard." This really surprised her when she "couldn't find the square of the tune, couldn't find the phrasing." She says she would get halfway through and suddenly realize she had to re-find the place in the music. To compensate, she says she figured the best thing was to get the dancers moving together with each other, regardless if the dance figures are square with the music.
Despite the challenges, Anna says she would call a techno contra again "every once in a while.... If it is a way I can serve the community and it doesn't compromise my values, it's okay. The difference between electronic and live music is so huge that I'd be willing to do some, but techno/computer music doesn't resonate in my body the same way. I like the idea of moving to a big, thumping beat, but the reason I dance is the nexus of music and movement and people. Techno contra takes me back to how we moved to disco, and I'm not sure I want to return to that. I don't think my body could take more than 30 minutes of it. I was dizzy at the mic and I'm not sure the disorienting feeling could be fixed for me."
"One of the reasons I like English is the whole floor dances together, as a whole. I see it less in contra, and more individuality takes over, but this can undermine and be a detriment to the whole. I would hope this techno contra doesn't make the form more insular."
Anna Rain calls English Country Dance and contra dance. Her next contra calling gig at Glen Echo is on Sunday, July 29, with Gift of the Marcii (Aaron Marcus, Andrew Marcus, and Peggy Marcus).