Periodic Table of Contra

I’ve heard many a comment on the overlapping interests of dance and math/science, but usually folks aren’t talking about chemistry. Enter “The Periodic Table of Contra”:

This table (click on it for a larger version) was designed by April Blum, one of the organizers of the FootFall dance group. I asked April what had how she came about giving physical science twist to contra dance moves. Here’s the entertaining story she shared:

I had seen other Periodic Tables — there’s one of desserts, for instance, and one of fruits and vegetables, and I think I’ve even seen one of fishing lures. But for some reason I pulled up a “real” one and found myself wondering if I could use the actual abbreviations — no cheating — for terms that callers use.

I was absolutely OBSESSED with it for the better part of three weeks. Most of it was easy, but there were a few entries that were surprisingly difficult, since the collection of abbreviations is a VERY mixed bag. I made lists and lists and lists.

My personal “Eureka!” moment involved xenon (Xe). That was a tough one, and I’d been stuck on it for a week. Then, one morning as I was driving to work, I pulled up behind a car that had an “I love LAX.” bumper sticker. I was staring idly at it, waiting for the light to change, when I suddenly made the connection — Xe was “Cross Trails” of course! The driver behind me must have thought I’d lost it — I was pounding on the steering wheel and laughing like an idiot.

We’ve sold enough to cover our original printing costs and any additional posters that we sell go directly to FootFall. We hope to sell enough to provide some additional scholarships for young dancers (we already give a substantial discount, but we’d like to do more to make the weekend affordable, especially for students).

I’m sure this would make Mendeleev proud.

— Max

If you’d like to order a Periodic Table of Contra (while supporting youth scholarships at FootFall) contact April at

Posters are 18 x 24 (they fit a standard size frame) and printed in color on poster-quality glossy paper.
$10 each, and $2.75 for postage per order of 1-5 posters.

Great for dance halls, dorm rooms, or perhaps your lab.

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