CDSS Online Library
About This Resource
CDSS published Swing the Next, Ted Sannella's book of contras, squares, triplets and circle dances, in 1996. This annotated bibliography was in the original manuscript but was not included in the final book.
*Items marked with an asterisk are available in the CDSS Store. Other items may be available online elsewhere - we have included links where possible.
Annotated Bibliography from Ted Sannella's book Swing the Next
"The popularity of New England country dancing in recent years has led to the publication of numerous books on the subject. The majority are collections of dances with explanatory notes. Others deal with the techniques of calling, making dance music, or dance administration, while an increasing number of publications focus on dance history. A few books include most or all of these subjects.
From my extensive personal library, I have selected those publications that I feel are most useful to callers, musicians, and dancers. These are the ones that I recommend for the purpose of collecting dances or tunes, improving dance, musical, or administrative skills, widening one's perspective beyond current dance interests, and doing scholarly research. I give a brief subjective annotation for each listing with no apologies for my personal biases." ~Ted Sannella
Aldrich, Elizabeth. From the Ballroom to Hell: Grace and Folly in Nineteenth-Century Dance. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1991.
A fascinating study of dance, manners, and music in the nineteenth century. A dance-focused cultural history of that century is followed by an exhaustive anthology of excerpts from etiquette and dance manuals of the period. This work concludes with two bibliographies, one alphabetical and one annotated.
Armstrong, Don. The Caller/Teacher Manual for Contras. Los Angeles, CA: Sets in Order, American Square Dance Society, 1973.
A collection of 101 contras with calls and tips for callers. The dances vary widely in type and complexity and include some Sicilian circles and some in Portland fancy formation. Intended for club callers who are more familiar with squares.
Butenhof, Ed. Dance Parties for Beginners. Mack's Creek, MO: The Lloyd Shaw Foundation, 1990.
A one-night stand handbook of 100 easy dances intended to supply club callers with pertinent advice and material for use with beginners. Includes many squares and novelty dances as well as a few contras and folk dances.
Callens, Philippe. Keep on Swinging. Lovendegem, Belgium: Anglo-American Dance Service, 1992.
A fine collection of 24 New England-style squares, contras, circles, and triplets. The same material is written in both English and Flemish.
CDSS. GEMS: The Best of The Country Dance and Song Society Diamond Jubilee Music, Dance, and Song Contest. Northampton, MA: The Country Dance and Song Society, 1993.
A diverse collection of American and English dances and tunes including some by several of the most talented dance choreographers and music composers on the current scene.
Dalsemer, Bob. New England Quadrilles and How to Call Them. Baltimore, MD: The author, 1985.
A modest guide to calling New England style squares. Included are 12 contemporary dances and 12 examples of introductions, middle breaks, and endings.
Dalsemer, Bob. Smoke on the Water: Square Dance Classics. Baltimore, MD: Traditional Caller Productions, 1989.
This companion booklet to a cassette tape TC123 (with calls) and TC124 (without calls) contains the words, directions, and music for ten of the most popular singing squares.
Dalsemer, Bob. When the Work's All Done: A Square Dance Party for Beginners and Old Hands. Baltimore, MD: Traditional Caller Productions, 1990.
This is a companion booklet to the cassette tape TC125 (with calls) and TC126 (without calls). It contains ten dances presented in the approximate order that Dalsemer would use them in a program at a one-night stand. Each dance is clearly described and accompanied by appropriate music.
Dart, Mary McNab. Contra Dance Choreography: A Reflection of Social Change. Hamden, CT: Garland Publishing, 1995. Available on CDSS website elibrary.
I highly recommend this book to all serious callers. It is an excellent study of the contra dance scene circa 1992 focusing on the substantial influence that choreography has had on the activity.
Fix, Penn. Contra Dancing in the Northwest. Spokane, WA: The author, 1991.
This book contains a comprehensive history of square and contra dancing in the Northwest United States, a series of essays about dancing events, advice to leaders, dancers, and musicians and a section containing 33 fine contras written by Fix along with 14 appropriate tunes. An extensive listing of contra resources in the Northwest completes this interesting and useful book.
Gaudreau, Herbie. Modern Contra Dancing. Sandusky, OH: Square Dance Magazine, 1971.
A collection of 50 contras written by Gaudreau, the first advocate of "equal" contras. At a time when the dancers in a contra line were either active or inactive, Gaudreau composed these "busy" dances that didn't require those designations. His intention was to attract club dancers but the dances were so well contrived that they quickly caught on with traditional contra dancers as well. By far the most popular dance in this collection is Becket Reel. The book is out of print; however, most of the material in it was culled from Gaudreau's monthly "Contra Corners" column in the New England Caller, published from 1995 to 1967, and now archived at SDFNE.
* Gunzenhauser, Margot. The Square Dance and Contra Dance Handbook. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 1996.
A comprehensive guide to American country dancing. An interesting overview of the square and contra dance scene in the United States, by an American now living in Denmark, it includes an insightful discussion on calling techniques, dance music, programming, dancing style, and related subjects. There are 54 dances in a variety of formations including squares, contras, and circle mixers. Each dance is explained thoroughly with diagrams as necessary and many are accompanied by easy-to-read music. This is an English revision of the book, first published in 1988 in Denmark.
Gunzenhauser, Margot. Square Dancing and Contra Dancing at School. Virum, Denmark: Square Dance Partners Forlag, 1991.
An assortment of 44 well-chosen dances in square, contra, or circle formation for use with children. A section on teaching tips and an illustrated glossary are included in this attractive loose-leaf binder. A special bonus is the inclusion of six instrumental cassette tapes with twelve very usable tunes or medleys of contra dance length.
Harris, Jane A., Anne M. Pittman, and Marlys S. Waller. Dance A While, 7th edition: Handbook of Folk, Square, Contra and Social Dance. Minneapolis, MN: Burgess Publishing Co., 1950 and further editions in 1955, 1964, and 1968; New York: Macmillan College Publishing Co., 1978 and 1988; Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon, 1994. https://www.amazon.com/DanceWhileHandbookSquareContraebook/dp/B00W5O42S0 [Tenth edition]
This impressive tome (551 pages in the 7th ed.) is used as a textbook in colleges of physical education, and a more complete recreational dance book would be hard to envision. In the 1994 edition the contra section includes a nice mix of 35 dances, including many of the classic contras, as well as a good selection of those by contemporary composers.
Hinds, Tom. Dance All Night. Arlington, VA: The author, 1989.
A collection of 30 original contras, squares, and circle dances. Hinds displays some interesting choreography in a number of unusual dances.
Hinds, Tom. Dance All Night II. Arlington, VA: The author, 1991.
A second collection of fine dances written by Hinds. Thirty-five contra, square and circle dances including many that I have added to my repertoire.
* Hinds, Tom. Dance All Night III. Silver Spring, MD: The author, 1992.
Thirty-one more original contras and squares illustrating Hinds's choreographic skill.
Holden, Rickey, Frank Kaltman, and Olga Kulbitsky. The Contra Dance Book. Newark, NJ: American Squares, 1956; Lovendegem, Belgium: Anglo-American Dance Service, 1997.
A compilation of contras and progressive circle dances from available American literature between 1850 and 1953. A good source for many of the old "chestnuts" and for bibliographical references and alternate dance titles.
Hubert, Gene. Dizzy Dances. Columbia, MO: The author, 1983.
A collection of 50 "contemporary dances in the traditional style" written by Eric Zorn, David Harris, or the author. Included among 39 contras, nine squares and two circle mixers are several real gems.
Hubert, Gene. Dizzy Dances Volume II. Columbia, MO: The author, 1986.
A collection of 27 very fine dances written by Hubert including five contras from his first book. Hubert exhibits a composing style that produces smooth flowing dances. Many dances from this volume are in my repertoire and three of them are in Swing the Next.
Hubert, Gene. More Dizzy Dances Volume III. Greensboro, NC: The author, 1990.
A third collection of interesting dances composed by Hubert. Forty-three New England style contras, squares, and circle mixers including many unusual ones that are best suited for experienced dancers.
* Jennings, Larry. Zesty Contras. Cambridge, MA: New England Folk Festival Association, 1983.
A vast collection of 480 contras, triplets, and New England style dances in other formations is preceded by an informative and provocative text which tackles every aspect of calling, producing, and making music for a successful contra dance series. The concise coded dance transcriptions are full of useful information for those who make the effort to study them. Many of the dance descriptions include variants of the original, bringing the grand total to well over 500.
Kaynor, David. Calling Contra Dances for Beginners by Beginners. Montague Center, MA: The author, 1991; Revised 1993.
An interesting book, written in conversational style, in which Kaynor discusses his philosophy and techniques for involving new dancers and offers suggestions for new callers and musicians. Sixteen simple dances are included.
* Keller, Kate Van Winkle and Ralph Sweet. A Choice Selection of American Country Dances of the Revolutionary Era 1775-1795. New York, NY: The Country Dance and Song Society, 1975. Revised Northampton, 1993. Out of stock.
Twenty-nine progressive longways dances from five hand-written manuscripts dating from 1775 to 1795. Each dance is carefully described with a proper tune, so that it can be performed in the style of the period. A useful glossary is provided.
* Linnell, Rod and Louise Winston. Square Dances from a Yankee Caller's Clipboard. Norwell, MA: The New England Square Dance Caller, 1974. Reprinted by NEFFA, 2002.
A collection of 63 dances (mostly squares) by this master caller. All but a few were composed by Linnell who had a talent for choreography. Included are the five Rod's Quads, cleverly devised double quadrilles that awakened many to Linnell's choreographic skill. This book was finished by Winston as a labor of love from sketchy notes found on Linnell's clipboard at the time of his sudden death in 1966.
Marks, Joseph E., III. America Learns to Dance. Brooklyn, NY: Dance Horizons republication of a work published by Exposition Press, New York, 1957.
An excellent historical study of dance education in America before 1900. This scholarly work delves into the subject chronologically with sections on dance education in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries and includes extensive citations for each period.
Melamed, Lanie. All Join Hands: Connecting People Through Folk Dance. Montreal, Quebec: The author, 1977.
A collection of 48 folk, square, contra, and novelty dances with several singing games and a thoughtful discourse on the subject of dance leadership.
* Mills, Bob. All Mixed Up Revised Edition: A Guide to Sound Production for Folk and Dance Music. Belle Mead, NJ: The author, 1994; Revised 1996.
A handy reference for all who deal with sound reinforcement at dances. Basic information plus solutions to common amplification problems are given. A removable insert is included to provide the most important tips in a convenient form.
* Morrison, James E. Twenty-Four Early American Country Dances: Cotillions and Reels for the Year 1976. New York, NY: Country Dance and Song Society, 1976; Revised 1996.
A collection of dances from the late 18th century as found in handwritten and printed manuscripts. Each dance is notated in its original wording and then described using modern terminology and accompanied by a specific tune. A glossary is provided to help with unusual figures.
Page, Ralph and Beth Tolman. (see Tolman, Beth and Ralph Page)
Page, Ralph. An Elegant Collection of Contras and Squares. Denver, CO: The Lloyd Shaw Foundation, 1984.
Over 60 of Page's favorite dances are described in great detail. Included are most of the old "classic" contras as well as many of the contras and squares written by "contemporary" composers between 1940 and 1980. All this and 53 good tunes as well!
Page, Ralph. Heritage Dances of Early America. Colorado Springs, CO: The Lloyd Shaw Foundation, 1976.
Written to coincide with this country's bicentennial, this is a collection of 25 contras dating from 1788 to 1808 (defined by Page as the "so-called Revolutionary War era") plus one that is a combination of two dances from that period. These elegant dances, found by Page in old manuscripts, are described with the words from these documents and then translated into modern dance terminology. Because of Page's research, dances such as British Sorrow, The Market Lass, and The Young Widow were resurrected from obscurity.
Page, Ralph. The Ralph Page Book of Contras. London, England: The English Folk Dance and Song Society, 1969.
This collection of 22 contras was compiled as a written record of the dances taught by Page during a 1966 tour of Great Britain. The dances are equally divided in number between the earlier (mostly triple minor) contras and those written by modern composers. Also featured are 44 fine tunes including 20 written by Page. (Also see Tune Books)
* Parkes, Tony. Contra Dance Calling: A Basic Text. Bedford, MA: Hands Four Books, 1992.
A very complete guide to calling New England contras. In part one, Parkes discusses the theory and practice of calling, including chapters on calling and teaching techniques, dance selection, and working with music. Part two deals with basic moves and dance routines in great detail and includes 18 dances with both directions and calls. A well-written glossary wraps up this valuable addition to any caller's library.
* Parkes, Tony. Shadrack's Delight and Other Dances. Bedford, MA: Hands Four Books, 1988. Out of stock.
A fine collection of 43 square, circle, and contra dances written by Parkes. All of the dances are characterized by interesting flowing sequences. A companion demonstration tape (HF101) is available with Parkes calling each dance at least twice through.
* Parkes, Tony. Son of Shadrack and Other Dances. Bedford, MA: Hands Four Books, 1993.
A second collection of 42 fine square, circle and contra dances written by Parkes. As expected, this sequel to Shadrack's Delight is full of usable dances.
* Roodman, Gary M. Additional Calculated Figures, Vol. 2, 2nd edition. Binghamton, NY: The author, 1992. Revised, 2005.
A second collection of Roodman's unusual dances. Fifteen English and American dances of which six are New England-style contras, three in four couple whole set formation. Suggested music for each dance is included.
* Roodman, Gary M. Calculated Figures. Binghamton, NY: The author, 1987.
An interesting collection of Roodman's dances: three English and nine New England style, some in unusual formations. Suggested music for each dance is included.
Sannella, Ted. Balance and Swing. New York, NY: The Country Dance and Song Society, 1982; Revised, 1990. Out of Print.
A collection of 55 New England-style squares, contras, and triplets, mostly by the author, with appropriate music for each dance and a comprehensive glossary. Every dance description is followed by detailed notes giving tips for dancers and callers, and background information about the dance. A historical text relates the development of Boston area square and contra dancing from colonial times to the present. (Also see Tune Books)
* Sannella, Ted. Swing the Next. Northampton, MA: The Country Dance and Song Society, 1996.
A second collection of 80 New England-style squares, contras, and triplets, and circle dances by the author and others, with appropriate music for each dance and a comprehensive glossary. Every dance description has detailed tips for dancers and callers, and background information about the dance. Includes a special chapter on "Assessing Choreography." (Also see Tune Books)
Tolman, Beth and Ralph Page. The Country Dance Book. Guilford, VT: The Countryman Press, 1937. Reprinted by A.S. Barnes and Co., New York (undated). Reprinted by The Stephen Greene Press, Brattleboro, 1976. Reprinted by Coles Publishing Co. Ltd., Toronto, 1980.
An anecdotal account of rural country dancing in New England before and at the beginning of the square and contra dance revival of the 1920s and 1930s. Along with historical vignettes, many dance descriptions are given including all of the "chestnuts."
Twork, Eva O'Neal. Henry Ford and Benjamin B. Lovett: The Dancing Billionaire and the Dancing Master. Detroit, MI: Harlo Press, 1982.
An entertaining account of a little-known side of the famous auto maker, as a patron of country dancing, and of the dancing master he brought from Massachusetts to Michigan to teach dancing to his employees, friends, and local school children. Twork interviews old-timers in the area including relatives of Ford and Lovett to tell the story of the square dance revival in the 1920's and the impact that these two men had on the resurgence of dance interest at that time.
Whynot, Roger. More of Whynot. Tonbridge, England: Jack Hamilton, [198?].
A second collection of Whynot's unique dances. Twenty-three squares, contras, and circle dances including some choreographic delights.
Whynot, Roger. Why Not Dance With Me? Tonbridge, England: Jack Hamilton, [198?].
Twenty-four squares, contras, and circle dances composed by Whynot. Some of his more unusual choreographic ideas are included in these dances.
"A large number of books in this category are available. I list only those, from my collection, which I use most often when looking for music suitable for New England style dances." ~Ted Sannella
Darke, Dennis, ed. Band Call. London, England: The English Folk Dance and Song Society, 1972. Fourth reprint in 1987. A collection of 76 jigs, reels, hornpipes, rants, polkas, schottisches, waltzes, and "handy tunes" with three or four tunes on each 7" x 9 3/4" page. Chords are included for each tune.
Kennedy, Peter, ed. The Fiddler's Tune-Book and The Second Fiddler's Tune-Book. Oxford, England: The Oxford University Press for The English Folk Dance and Song Society, 1951 and 1954. Reprinted by Hargail Music Press, New York. Re-published in one volume entitled: The Fiddler's Tune-Book of 200 Traditional Airs: Traditional Dance Music of Britain and Ireland, 1994.
This 5 1/4" x 8 1/2" book contains 200 reels, jigs, hornpipes, polkas, schottisches, and waltzes, mostly two on each page. With chords and an index to the tunes.
Marriott, Beryl and Roger, eds. Tunes for the Band. London, England: The English Folk Dance and Song Society, 1976. Revised and reprinted 1980. A selection of 70 reels, jigs, hornpipes, rants, schottisches, strathspeys, marches, quicksteps, and waltzes with three or four tunes on each 7" x 9 3/4" page. Chords are included for each tune.
McQuillen, Bob. Bob's Note Books (No. 1 through No. 15). Peterborough, NH: The author, 1982 to 1994. From Great Meadow Music.
On average, about 100 dance tunes per book with one on each 8" x 5 1/2" page (reels, jigs, hornpipes, marches, polkas, waltzes, and more). This prolific tune writer named his tunes for his friends. Be glad he had so many, many, many friends!
Messer, Don. Don Messer's Way Down East Fiddlin' Tunes. Toronto, Ontario: Gordon V. Thompson Ltd., 1948.
A collection of 98 easy-to-read reels, jigs, hornpipes, polkas, clogs, and waltzes with two to four tunes on each 9" x 12" page. Many of my Canadian favorites are included in this out-of-print volume. It's worth seeking in secondhand shops.
* Miller, Randy and Robert Bley-Vroman, eds. New England Fiddler's Repertoire. Peterborough, NH: Fiddlecase Books, 1983. Reprinted in East Alstead, NH, 1986. Revised and reprinted, 2008.
This spiral-bound book contains 168 reels, jigs, hornpipes, and marches, mostly two on each 6" x 8" page. A very useful collection of the tunes found in the repertoire of most New England contra dance musicians.
Morningstar, Judi, ed. The Ruffwater Fakebook. White Lake, MI: The author, 1991.
A collection of 117 reels and 52 jigs, all with chords and one or two on each 8 1/2" x 11" page. Many fine tunes by the author are included in this spiral bound book of easy-to-read selections. This is part of the repertoire of The Olde Michigan Ruffwater Stringband of which the author is a significant member.
M.M. Cole, publisher. One Thousand Fiddle Tunes. Chicago, IL: M.M. Cole Publishing Company, 1940, 1991.
A mammoth collection of reels, jigs, hornpipes, clogs, and strathspeys with eight tunes on each 9" x 12" page. Probably has been used by more fiddlers than any other reference.
Page, Ralph. The Ralph Page Book of Contras. London, England: The English Folk Dance and Song Society, 1969.
Contains 44 fine reels, jigs, and hornpipes with chords, including 20 tunes written by Page. There are four tunes on each 7" x 9 3/4" page. (Also see Dance Books)
Sannella, Ted. Balance and Swing. New York, NY: The Country Dance and Song Society, 1982. Revised Northampton, 1990.
A collection of 55 reels, jigs, and hornpipes in easy-to-read format with one tune on every other 7" x 10" page. Chords are included and a handy alphabetical tune list is inside the back cover of this spiral-bound book. (Also see Dance Books) Out of Print.
Sannella, Ted. Swing the Next. Northampton, MA: The Country Dance and Song Society, 1996.
A collection of 80 reels, jigs, and hornpipes with chords in easy-to-read format with one tune on every other 7" x 9" page. Includes an index of tunes and dances. (Also see Dance Books)
Sloanaker, Jack and Tony Parkes. Square Dance Chord Book and Tune Locator. Plymouth, VT: F&W Records, 1979.
This spiral-bound book is a unique addition to a musician's library since it has no tunes. It is a collection of chords (only) for 500 common New England square and contra dance tunes. An alphabetical list of the tunes gives references for books and recordings as an aid to locating each melody.
* Sweet, Ralph. The Fifer's Delight. Enfield, CT: The author, 1964. 4th ed., 1972. Revised 5th ed., 1981.
The original work contains 154 tunes with two or three on each 6" x 9" page. The much expanded fifth edition contains 343 tunes and chords for each with three to five tunes on each 8 1/2" x 11" page. Both books are spiral bound.
"I feel that, in order to keep abreast of the developing folk process, it is useful to subscribe to a number of international, national, and regional dance periodicals. From many that come to me at regular intervals, I recommend a short list with brief annotations." ~Ted Sannella
The American Dance Circle. A quarterly publication of The Lloyd Shaw Foundation. Articles of a historical nature are common as are those telling of events sponsored by the foundation and resource materials available from them. Contras and squares are often included. Here is an archive of issues from The American Dance Circle from 1980-2013. New issues available to members. The Lloyd Shaw Foundation, c/o Ruth Ann Knapp, LSF Membership Chair, 2124 Passolt, Saginaw, MI 48603.
American Square Dance. A monthly publication geared to the club square dance movement. A regular "Easy Level" column contains traditional-style squares, contras, and circle mixers and a "Contra Corners" column often includes usable dances. American Square Dance, 34 E. Main Street, Apopka, FL 32703; email@example.com; Squaredance.ws. Archives here.
CDSS News. Quarterly newsletter of The Country Dance and Song Society. Included are contemporary dance, music, and song selections, events calendar and articles of interest to all who participate in English and/or Anglo-American folk dance, music, and song activities. The contra dance movement is well represented in each issue. Available to members, or by request. CDSS, 116 Pleasant Street, Easthampton, MA 01027; firstname.lastname@example.org Archives here.
Contra and Square Dance History. A short-lived quarterly journal edited and published by Michael McKernan. The sub-title of this interesting work explains its nature: "Studies on the Past, Present, and Future of Contra and Square Dances." In the debut issue (January, 1995), McKernan stated that his purpose is "... to provide callers, composers, organizers, musicians, and highly-involved dancers with accurate, fully documented information on how contra and square dances came to be the way they are now." The well-written scholarly articles and on-going features are most informative.
The Dance Gypsy. A monthly newsletter featuring a pull-out calendar of contra and folk dance events in northern New England. Articles and letters of interest to dancers are included regularly. The Dance Gypsy, 2518 Sunset Lake Road, Dummerston, VT 05301; email@example.com; The Dance Gypsy website
The Ken Sheffield Collection
From Two Barns: Ten Country Dances (mainly from Thompson, Wright and Wilson) compiled by Ken Sheffield
In 1982 Ken Sheffield published the first volume of From Two Barns. The plan was to produce a book of ten dances each year for ten years; other activities got in the way, as they tend to do, but ten books were eventually published, the last one in 2005.
Volume 10 includes a short history titled "Why From Two Barns" which explains the title of the series, and how and why they happened. Read more about Ken here.
The original dances and tunes are presented here as individual PDF files. They can be sorted by title, volume title, volume number, and page number. Dances originally published on two pages are in one PDF file. You may also download an entire volume as one PDF; search for the word Complete along with the volume number under Title.
All dances are © Ken Sheffield and are published here with his permission. The dances and tunes may be printed for your own use, under Creative Commons license (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike: CC BY-NC-SA). This means:
- you must credit Ken Sheffield and the CDSS Online Library;
- you may print and redistribute the dances, and build upon Ken's work;
- all new work must carry the same license, so any derivatives must also be non-commercial in nature.
|Title||Doc||Volume title||Vol||Page #|
|Sweet Richard||From Two Barns||Vol 1||11|
|Bath Medley||From Two Barns||Vol 1||4|
|Cover - Volume 1||From Two Barns||Vol 1||cover|
|Forward - Volume 1||From Two Barns||Vol 1||forward|
|Complete Volume 1||From Two Barns||Vol 1||complete|
|Index - Volume 1||From Two Barns||Vol 1||index|
|Inside Front - Volume 1||From Two Barns||Vol 1||inside front|
|New Princess Royal||From Two Barns||Vol 1||10|
|Royal Felicity||From Two Barns||Vol 1||7|
|Sicilian Dance||From Two Barns||Vol 1||5|
|Sun Assembly||From Two Barns||Vol 1||9|
|Trusty Dick||From Two Barns||Vol 1||3|
|Tunbridge Frisk||From Two Barns||Vol 1||1|
|Butter'd Peas||From Two Barns||Vol 1||8|
|Youngs Wisdom||From Two Barns||Vol 1||2|
|A Trip to Wimbleton||From Two Barns||Vol 2||9|
|Better Day Better Deed||From Two Barns||Vol 2||10|
|Cover - Volume 2||From Two Barns||Vol 2||cover|
|Dapper Harry||From Two Barns||Vol 2||11|
|Forward - Volume 2||From Two Barns||Vol 2||forward|
|Complete Volume 2||From Two Barns||Vol 2||complete|
|Guardian Angels||From Two Barns||Vol 2||3|
|Index - Volume 2||From Two Barns||Vol 2||index|
|Neals Maggot||From Two Barns||Vol 2||12|
|The Blue Primrose||From Two Barns||Vol 2||5|
|The Old Jubilee||From Two Barns||Vol 2||7|
|The Rainbow||From Two Barns||Vol 2||2|
|The Ton||From Two Barns||Vol 2||1|
|True Joak||From Two Barns||Vol 2||8|
|Bloomsbury Market||From Two Barns||Vol 3||9|
|Bob in the Bed||From Two Barns||Vol 3||2|
|Cover - Volume 3||From Two Barns||Vol 3||cover|
|Forward - Volume 3||From Two Barns||Vol 3||forward|
|Complete - Volume 3||From Two Barns||Vol 3||complete|
|Illustration - Volume 3||From Two Barns||Vol 3||illustration|
|Index - Volume 3||From Two Barns||Vol 3||index|
|Just a Going||From Two Barns||Vol 3||1|
|Painted Chamber||From Two Barns||Vol 3||1|
|Sawney Was Tall||From Two Barns||Vol 3||11|
|Suggar Candie||From Two Barns||Vol 3||3|
|The Disbanded Officer||From Two Barns||Vol 3||4|
|The Recruiting Officer||From Two Barns||Vol 3||8|
|The Weezle||From Two Barns||Vol 3||5|
|Thomas and Sally||From Two Barns||Vol 3||6|
|Clifton Springs||From Two Barns||Vol 4||1|
|Constant Nymph||From Two Barns||Vol 4||10|
|Cover - Volume 4||From Two Barns||Vol 4||cover|
|Forward - Volume 4||From Two Barns||Vol 4||forward|
|Frontis - Volume 4||From Two Barns||Vol 4||frontis|
|Complete - Volume 4||From Two Barns||Vol 4||complete|
|Half Century||From Two Barns||Vol 4||11|
|Index - Volume 4||From Two Barns||Vol 4||index|
|Neck Or Nothing||From Two Barns||Vol 4||2|
|Newbury Fair||From Two Barns||Vol 4||5|
|Newmarket||From Two Barns||Vol 4||3|
|North Country Lass||From Two Barns||Vol 4||8|
|Princess Augusta Tambourine||From Two Barns||Vol 4||13|
|The London Assembly||From Two Barns||Vol 4||7|
|The Mayor and Corporation||From Two Barns||Vol 4||9|
|Count Tallard||From Two Barns||Vol 5||1|
|Cover - Volume 5||From Two Barns||Vol 5||cover|
|East Indian||From Two Barns||Vol 5||2|
|Forward - Volume 5||From Two Barns||Vol 5||forward|
|Frontis - Volume 5||From Two Barns||Vol 5||frontis|
|Complete - Volume 5||From Two Barns||Vol 5||complete|
|Huzza My Boys||From Two Barns||Vol 5||3|
|Index - Volume 5||From Two Barns||Vol 5||index|
|Lord Kilmurray's Delight||From Two Barns||Vol 5||4|
|Miss Margaret's Delight||From Two Barns||Vol 5||5|
|Miss Sandie's Delight||From Two Barns||Vol 5||7|
|The White Joak||From Two Barns||Vol 5||10|
|The Corner House||From Two Barns||Vol 5||10|
|The Temple of Health||From Two Barns||Vol 5||9|
|Willys Rare and Willys Fair||From Two Barns||Vol 5||11|
|Cover - Volume 6||From Two Barns||Vol 6||cover|
|Edgeworth Bumpkins||From Two Barns||Vol 6||cover|
|Forward - Volume 6||From Two Barns||Vol 6||forward|
|Frontis - Volume 6||From Two Barns||Vol 6||frontis|
|Complete - Volume 6||From Two Barns||Vol 6||complete|
|Illustration - Volume 6||From Two Barns||Vol 6||illustration|
|Index - Volume 4||From Two Barns||Vol 6||index|
|Mermaid||From Two Barns||Vol 6||3|
|Milk Maids Bob||From Two Barns||Vol 6||6|
|Miss Longs For It||From Two Barns||Vol 6||10|
|More Alterations||From Two Barns||Vol 6||9|
|The Black Boy||From Two Barns||Vol 6||5|
|The Brickmakers||From Two Barns||Vol 6||2|
|The Revellee||From Two Barns||Vol 6||11|
|The Scating Dutchman||From Two Barns||Vol 6||7|
|The Steel Hoop||From Two Barns||Vol 6||8|
|Barbarini's Tambourine||From Two Barns||Vol 7||4|
|Corelli's Gavot||From Two Barns||Vol 7||1|
|Cover - Volume 7||From Two Barns||Vol 7||cover|
|Forward - Volume 7||From Two Barns||Vol 7||forward|
|Frontis - Volume 7||From Two Barns||Vol 7||frontis|
|Complete - Volume 7||From Two Barns||Vol 7||complete|
|Illustration - Volume 7||From Two Barns||Vol 7||illustration|
|Index - Volume 7||From Two Barns||Vol 7||index|
|Jack of Both Sides||From Two Barns||Vol 7||3|
|Kind and Easey||From Two Barns||Vol 7||6|
|Smith's Bouree||From Two Barns||Vol 7||2|
|The Faithful Swain||From Two Barns||Vol 7||9|
|The Man from Canterbury||From Two Barns||Vol 7||8|
|The Romp||From Two Barns||Vol 7||5|
|Vaughan's Ramble||From Two Barns||Vol 7||11|
|Whirle It About||From Two Barns||Vol 7||7|
|Avos Bay||From Two Barns||Vol 8||9|
|Buskin II||From Two Barns||Vol 8||7|
|Colonel John Irwin||From Two Barns||Vol 8 Supplement|
|Cover - Supplement Volume 8||From Two Barns||Vol 8 Supplement||cover supplement|
|Cover - Volume 8||From Two Barns||Vol 8||cover|
|Fanny Power||From Two Barns||Vol 8 Supplement|
|Forward - Volume 8||From Two Barns||Vol 8||forward|
|Frontis - Volume 8||From Two Barns||Vol 8||frontis|
|Complete - Supplement Volume 8||From Two Barns||Vol 8 Supplement||complete supplement|
|Complete - Volume 8||From Two Barns||Vol 8||complete|
|Illustrations - Volume 8||From Two Barns||Vol 8||illustrations|
|Index - Volume 8||From Two Barns||Vol 8 Supplement||complete supplement|
|Lawson's Frisk||From Two Barns||Vol 8||8|
|Morgan Magan||From Two Barns||Vol 8 Supplement|
|The British Toper||From Two Barns||Vol 8||5|
|The Maid of Bath||From Two Barns||Vol 8||2|
|The New Allemand||From Two Barns||Vol 8||6|
|The Russian Dance||From Two Barns||Vol 8||1|
|The Scrutiny||From Two Barns||Vol 8||11|
|Illustraiton from A Trip to Blenheim||From Two Barns||Vol 9||illustration|
|A Trip to Blenheim||From Two Barns||Vol 9||1|
|A Trip to Kllburn||From Two Barns||Vol 9||2|
|A Trip to Plymouth||From Two Barns||Vol 9 Supplement|
|Cover - Volume 9||From Two Barns||Vol 9||cover|
|Forward - Volume 9||From Two Barns||Vol 9||forward|
|Frontis - Volume 9 Supplement||From Two Barns||Vol 9 Supplement||supplement frontis|
|Frontis - Volume 9||From Two Barns||Vol 9||frontis|
|Complete - Volume 9 Supplement||From Two Barns||Vol 9 Supplement||complete supplement|
|Complete - Volume 9||From Two Barns||Vol 9||complete|
|Heathcote's Horse Race||From Two Barns||Vol 9||3|
|Index - Volume 9||From Two Barns||Vol 9||index|
|Longborough 2||From Two Barns||Vol 9 Supplement|
|Lord What's Come To My Mother||From Two Barns||Vol 9||4|
|Measure for Measure||From Two Barns||Vol 9||5|
|Off With The Mask||From Two Barns||Vol 9||6|
|Paddlers Coff||From Two Barns||Vol 9 Supplement|
|Illustration for Queen's Square||From Two Barns||Vol 9|
|Queen's Square||From Two Barns||Vol 9||10|
|St. James Park||From Two Barns||Vol 9||8|
|The Red Ribbon||From Two Barns||Vol 9||9|
|Tumble Down Dick||From Two Barns||Vol 9||7|
|Britain's Glory||From Two Barns||Vol 10||4|
|Cover - Volume 10||From Two Barns||Vol 10||cover|
|Drapers Gardens||From Two Barns||Vol 10||8|
|Essay - Volume 10||From Two Barns||Vol 10||essay|
|Forward - Volume 10||From Two Barns||Vol 10||forward|
|Complete - Volume 10||From Two Barns||Vol 10||complete|
|Hewlett||From Two Barns||Vol 10||9|
|I Wonder At It||From Two Barns||Vol 10||2|
|Illustration - Volume 10||From Two Barns||Vol 10||illustration|
|Index - Volume 10||From Two Barns||Vol 10||index|
|Man Tiger||From Two Barns||Vol 10||10|
|Open All Hours||From Two Barns||Vol 10||5|
|Quarter Day||From Two Barns||Vol 10||11|
|Shepherd's Round||From Two Barns||Vol 10||3|
|Soft and Sweet||From Two Barns||Vol 10||1|
|Valient Jockey||From Two Barns||Vol 10||7|
Cracking Chestnuts: The Journey
In March 2004 a group of 22 callers met in Syracuse, NY, for a day of dance and discussion about classic contra dances. This workshop inspired the "Cracking Chestnuts" column in the CDSS News (2004-2007), authored by Syracuse caller David Smukler, with occasional history-related columns by David Millstone. In 2008 CDSS published Cracking Chestnuts: The Living Tradition of Classic American Contra Dances, a book based on the News series, describing 17 dances in detail, and arguing for an inclusive approach to contra dancing, one which embraces the newer and older dances alike.
Meanwhile, David Millstone has been collecting video of chestnuts for years (see SDHP), and he and David Smukler agreed that video of the 17 dances in the book, plus the 20 in its appendix, would be a valuable learning tool for callers, and an important historical collection.
On March 2nd, 2013 the Syracuse Country Dancers held another Callers' Gathering focused on chestnuts, and used the occasion to collect footage of additional dances. After months of editing, videos of all 37 dances (including multiple versions of some dances) in the Cracking Chestnuts book are presented here.
Click on the link below, and you will be directed to a Table of Contents page for the videos. From there, you can select a video to view.
The book, Cracking Chestnuts, is available from the CDSS Store.
David Smukler, David Millstone, Lynn Nichols, Micah Smukler, Pat MacPherson, Mary Wesley, Nils Fredland, CDSS, and the Syracuse Country Dancers all had a hand in creating this video project. Various videographers were also involved, as well as many callers and musicians who care enough to keep the chestnuts thriving. And, of course, we appreciate all the dancers who appear in these videos, happily dancing "chestnuts," the classic contra dances of New England!
~ Pat MacPherson, Editor, CDSS
So Why Are They Called Chestnuts?
David Millstone, co-author of Cracking Chestnuts, did some research.
Webster's New World Dictionary (1970) defines 'chestnut' as something old and familiar, as in a very familiar story, piece of music, etc. that is too often repeated. David Smukler, author of Cracking Chestnuts opined, correctly, that the term was somehow connected to the seminal albums of New England Chestnuts by Rodney and Randy Miller.
Rodney Miller wrote, "I have a letter from Joan Pelton dated Jan. 9, 1980... Here is a part of it."
Dear Roddy and Randy,
I have spoken with Randy at length about a proposed record of New England "chestnuts" (meaning the dances that are still danced in N.E. that have become traditional. Whatever traditional means).
Aha! Joan Pelton founded Alcazar Records in 1977. Their first release was Yankee Ingenuity's Kitchen Junket. Alcazar's third and fourth releases were the two volumes of New England Chestnuts. In the 1970s Joan was playing for dances, which is where she met Randy Miller. Randy commented, "She'd lean over while a dance was being taught and she'd say, 'Boy, that's an old chestnut!' in that inimitable style she had."
This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in CDSS News, #169, November/December 2002. To read the entire article, click here.
We are pleased to provide these publications, most now out of print, here on the web. We ask only that you respect the authors' intention and generosity in making these materials available free of charge (although donations to our programs are always welcome!). We are actively expanding our online offerings and welcome your suggestions for additional material you would find useful.
New! A Barn Dance Repertoire by Thomas Green and Colin Hume includes over 140 dances, plus resources and tips for barn dances and ceilidhs.
Now Available! Dancing Across the Pond by Robert M. Keller, Margaret Keller Dimock and Anne Keller Geraci: 362 Original Country Dance Figures, 191 with Music, ms or Printed
Now Available! Peter Rogers Country Dance Index, 3rd Edition (1986)
Barnes Three Database: A database of the tunes and associated dances in Volume Three of the Barnes Book of English Country Dance Tunes with links to dance instruction and further information about many of the dances.
Roy Dommett's Morris Notes Online Edition — the foundational resource, long out of print, available online.
Cracking Chestnuts videos: A page with links to YouTube videos of all of the classic American contra dances that are featured in the CDSS publication Cracking Chestnuts: The Living Tradition of Classic American Contra Dances.
Ken Sheffield's collected dances The entire collection of Sheffield's "From Two Barns," Volumes 1-10.
Charles Bolton's collected dances (html, pdf) The entire collection of both Bolton's "Retreads" series and his original dances.
The Colonial Music Institute (compiled by Mary Jane Corry, Kate Van Winkle Keller, and Robert M. Keller): The Performing Arts in Colonial American Newspapers, 1690-1783 — This publication fills a major gap in access to eighteenth-century American sources for research in the performing arts and related humanities fields. It includes all references to music, poetry (lyrics), dance, and theater found by our readers in American newspapers, from the earliest extant copy (1690) through the end of the Revolutionary War (1783).
The Colonial Music Institute (compiled by Robert M. Keller, Raoul F. Camus, Kate Van Winkle Keller, and Susan Cifaldi): Early American Secular Music and Its European Sources, 1589–1839: An Index (HTML) — This is a series of indexes derived from a data base of musical information compiled from primary sources covering the 250 years of the initial exploration and settlement of the United States. It consists of over 75,000 entries that are sorted by text (titles, first lines, recitatives, chorus and burden), by music incipits (represented in scale degrees, stressed notes and interval sequences), with additional indexes of names and theater works.
The Colonial Music Institute (compiled by Robert Keller): Dance Figures Index: American Country Dances, 1710-1830 (HTML) — A guide to the basic figures in all American printed and manuscript longways country dances in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century sources. It is drawn from a computer data base of information which was gathered from 82 sources, 53 printed and 29 in manuscript.
The Colonial Music Institute (compiled by Robert Keller): Early American Songsters, 1734-1820: An Index (HTML) —An index of all of the known songsters currently available. The index draws heavily from Irving Lowens' Bibliography of Songster Printed in America Before 1821 (Worcester: American Antiquarian Society, 1976), for titles and other bibliograhical information. Lowens defines a songster "as a collection of three or more secular poems intended to be sung." Most of the songsters do not include music, although many contain references to the names of tunes to which the song could be sung. This publication comprises those songs published through 1800.
The Colonial Music Institute (compiled by Robert Keller): Dance Figures Index: English Country Dances, 1650-1833 (HTML) — A guide to the basic figures in major English printed longways country dances in eighteenth and early nineteenth-century sources. This database only includes sources for dances with instruction for country dances, or dances that could be identified as such. It does not include other dance forms, such as Cotillions or Allemand or similar dances.
Mary Dart: Contra Dance Choreography: A Reflection of Social Change (HTML)
Originally published by Garland Publishing, Inc., New York & London, 1995
Mary Dart's classic study explores "the way the choreography of the contra dance, a folk dance tradition brought to us from the British Isles, has been changing, particularly over the last twenty years." The book, based on interviews with callers, dance composers and musicians, looks at new dances, how they are composed, and what aesthetic and cultural principles underlie the choreographic choices made. A "doc" version is also available for download.
Robert G. Dalsemer: West Virginia Square Dances (HTML)
Originally published by Country Dance and Song Society, 1982
Dalsemer describes dance figures as done in five rural West Virginia communities in the mid- to late-1970s and reports on their regular dance events, including programming, type of audience, price and method of admission, and the traditions of figure calling and musical performance. The history of each dance event is discussed, as is their on-going process of evolution. With appendices: a list of tunes commonly played for square dances; transcriptions of calls; and tunes for caller Worley Gardner's singing and semi-singing calls. Single copies may be printed from this website. Please contact CDSS if you wish to print multiple copies.
Robert M. Keller: The Dancing Master, 1651-1728: An Illustrated Compendium (online database)
The Compendium is a searchable database of all known country dances published in the various editions of The Dancing Master, published by John Playford, Henry Playford and John Young, from 1651-1728 in London, with facsimiles of each "unique" dance with its music. This reference work is published by CDSS with the English Folk Dance and Song Society and the New Hampshire Library for Traditional Dance and Music at the University of New Hampshire.
Patrick Napier: Kentucky Mountain Square Dancing (online - PDF [17M])
Ted Sannella: Annotated Discography and Bibliography from Ted Sannella's SWING THE NEXT (HTML) The annotations and introduction for the Discography and Bibliography in Swing the Next (CDSS, 1996) are included here in their entirety. Swing the Next is a collection of 80 American square, contra, triplet and circle dances, the majority of them written by Ted Sannella, a master of the art of calling American traditional dances.
CDSS, GEMS: The Best of the Country Dance and Song Society's Diamond Anniversary Music, Dance and Song Contest
The Charles Bolton Collection
Welcome to the online collection of the collected works of Charles Bolton, which is comprised of Retreads (interpretations of 17th and 18th century English dances) and the nine booklets of Charles's original dances and tunes.
Charles worked on Retreads from 1985 to 2003. We are presenting the 2nd edition of these booklets, redesigned and rewritten so the presentation is clear, and with revised interpretations in some cases. In addition, we present two previously unpublished dances: Jack's Health and The Happy Captive.
The booklets of original dances and tunes were originally published 1982 through 2005. The main index can be sorted by booklet name or dance.
All dances are © Charles Bolton and are published here with his permission. The dances and tunes may be printed for your own use, under Creative Commons license (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike: CC BY-NC-SA). This means:
- you must credit Charles Bolton and the CDSS Online Library;
- you may print and redistribute the dances, and build upon Bolton's work;
- all new work must carry the same license, so any derivatives must also be non-commercial in nature.