Contra Dance Callers Course

Tentative Schedule

7:45-8:15 Hot Breakfast served cafeteria style
8:15-8:45 Cold Breakfast Coffee/Tea available
9:00-11:30 Contra Dance Callers Course
11:15-12:00 Swimming, Bookstore staffed, spaces available
12:00 Lunch
3:45-4:15 Tea
5:45-6:30 Swimming and Bookstore staffed
6:30 Dinner
8:00-11:00 Evening Dance Party including a couple dance interlude
11:00 After-dance Activities

July 28 - August 4, 2012

Held during American Dance & Music Week at Pinewoods.

Is there still room?
For up-to-date info about availability and wait lists,
see our main Dance & Music Camps page.

Program Director

Program Description

This Contra Callers Course is an intensive workshop designed for advanced-beginner through intermediate callers who are ready to get to the next level. The focus is on two important topics: teaching skills (understanding choreography and crafting a concise teaching vocabulary) and stage craft (becoming comfortable behind the mic, learning how to handle mistakes or unexpected situations and collaborating with musicians). All of this takes place in a supportive environment designed to help participants discover their strengths and explore new ideas.

This program, held concurrently with American Dance & Music Week, is designed and led by Lisa Greenleaf. Lisa brings many years of experience to her callers workshops, having been on staff at camps across the country and beyond. She has designed both short and long callers courses, and she particularly enjoys observing how people learn dance moves, as well as how they build effective dance communities.

The course takes place for a solid block in the morning. In the first half we cover such topics as teaching figures, recognizing good choreography and working with musicians. The latter half of the morning is a hands-on experience of basic microphone and stage techniques as participants practice conducting effective walk-throughs. There will also be time later in the day for campers to create an open mic session, as part of the fifth period in the concurrent American Dance & Music Week schedule.

Participation is limited to eight students, and before camp each student is asked to complete a preparatory assignment, which will be explained at registration. Because we have a lot of material to cover, attendees are expected to have knowledge of basic calling skills before attending the course. Feel free to contact the CDSS office for more information about this.


This course is limited to eight participants to ensure plenty of opportunity for active participation. Participants should be advanced-beginner through intermediate callers who have knowledge of basic calling skills. If it is oversubscribed on March 19, there will be a lottery of the qualified applicants. Please clearly indicate if you would like to attend American Dance & Music Week, if you did not get a space in the course. Scholarships are available.

Requirements for callers

In order to attend the course you must:

  • Be familiar with the AABB structure of contra dance music;
  • Know the difference between a jig and a reel;
  • Know how to cue the first figure off of four potatoes;
  • Know how and when to signal the band to go out;
  • Have called at least 3 contras in a real dance setting (individual dances, not evenings). Some dances sponsor open mics or new callers’ nights, and some callers are willing to allow new callers to call one dance during an evening. Or you can get a bunch of friends together and host a dance party, but it needs to be to live music;
  • Have a repertoire of at least 3 dances you know and feel comfortable teaching and calling;
  • Attend contra dances regularly so that you are familiar with the moves, the culture and the music;
  • Be prepared to receive and incorporate feedback, even if you have a lot of calling experience.

If you have further questions, please contact CDSS.