July 23 - 30, 2016



contra dance callers lrgerThis 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 building a concise teaching vocabulary) and stage craft (improving performance presence and vocal skills, 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 Harmony of Song & Dance at Pinewoods, 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.

After participating in Harmony of Song & Dance program through the morning, the course takes place for a solid block in the afternoon. In the first portion, we cover such topics as teaching more advanced figures, recognizing good choreography, understanding effective walk-throughs and inspiring confidence in your dancers. This is followed by a hands-on experience called the Contra Callers Dance Party, when Course participants work with a live band and call dances from the stage. Each dance is followed by dancer critique using a safe and supportive feedback model. This last session is 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. If the class is oversubscribed on March 14, preference will be given to those on last year's wait list and to applicants supported by their local community. Strong indicators for CDSS are our Group Priority and Matching Scholarship processes, where a CDSS affiliate vouches for a participant and may offer some scholarship, asking CDSS to match that amount (www.cdss.org/support-services/insurance-group-services/priority-matching-scholarships). This is a statement by people who know the individual, that the person is deserving of assistance and would benefit the local community by attending camp. That can count highly in this and in our scholarship considerations.


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:

  • Provide two references who can describe your experience and skill level.
  • 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.
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