contracallers nicholas smith

August 9-16, 2015

Held during Adult & Family Week at Timber Ridge.



greenleaf lisa mic 248a0c18This 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 (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 Adult & Family Week at Timber Ridge, 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 three-tiered block in the afternoon. In the first portion, we cover such topics as teaching figures, recognizing good choreography and understanding effective walk-throughs. This is followed by the Dancing Through Time class with David Millstone, who explores the history of contras and other American country dance forms. The last period is a hands-on experience called the Contra Callers Dance Party, where mini course participants work with a live band (Naomi Morse, Paul Oorts, and Robert Mills) and call dances from the stage. Each dance is followed by dancer critique using a safe and supportive feedback model. These last two sessions are open to dancers from the wider camp community.


Participation is limited to ten students, and before camp each student is asked to complete a preparatory assignment, which will be explained with acceptance. Please clearly indicate if you would like to attend Adult & Family Week at Timber Ridge, if you did not get a space in the course. Scholarships are available.

Requirements for callers who would like to attend the Contra Callers Miini Course at Timber Ridge 2015

This course is designed for advanced-beginner through intermediate level callers. A week is not a lot of time, so in order to hit the ground running, please make sure that you can fulfill these criteria by the time camp starts:

  • 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.

Please fill out this Survey as well as the regular Registration to apply for this Course.

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