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Rekindle Your Wild Joy and sense of deep Belonging through spiritual ecopsychology and the arts, incl. bioregional awareness, animistic perspectives, strategies for simple living, & low/no-tech DIY fun.

Leading a Contra Dance Role-Swapping Workshop June 22, 2017

Filed under: Arts,Dance — BrujaHa @ 10:25 am
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I dance both roles buttons

 

Contra dancers, if you’ve ever been curious about dancing the other gender role, I have published a new article with co-author Erik Erhardt about how to optimally pull it off.

We of course offer tips for smooth swapping points and the like, yet our main point is the “prime directive” of keeping neighbors, shadows, and other dancers in the line comfortable with this kind of play so that acceptance will grow among participants and non-participants alike, thereby ensuring ongoing fun for all. Here’s the beginning:

Leading a Contra Dance Role-Swapping Workshop.
CDSS NEWS (Summer 2017, pp.10-11 with fuller text online)

Introduction

This article offers concrete “hows” for experiencing even more joys in contra dance. A workshop that encourages dancers to play in both dance roles is a fun opportunity that also helps evolve the skill of
your dancers. While swapping roles initially seems like an advanced skill, it is often learned quickly and improves a person’s ability to dance well in either role.

We first provide swapping principles. In the online version of this article, we provide a selection of swap
points in three scenarios, then we offer a workshop outline that you can use, based on the “Gender Shenanigans” workshop we gave at Stellar Days and Nights dance camp held in the mountains of Colorado in February 2015.

While this type of workshop works well as part of a weekend dance camp with most dancers in “traditional” dance roles, small doses have proven to be popular at local dances, too.

Swapping principles

It can be very fun to cultivate the ability to be “ambidancetrous”; that is, to be able to dance either role and even to switch roles multiple times during a given dance.

When considering role swapping, the first thought that arises might be the simple puzzle of body mechanics in the various moves. But first and foremost in community dancing is actually the need for consideration for good dance etiquette. Etiquette is the art of making someone else feel comfortable, and this includes not only obtaining consent from your partner, but also being aware of the expectations of the entire dance line.

Always dance with respect for your neighbors. It is our observation that the essence of truly excellent dancing isn’t making fancy moves, but matching the needs and energy of each person met. Just as the elderly or disabled may need shorter, gentler swings, attention and courtesy must be given to each person encountered when swapping. Be in the right place on time for the next move, and confidently project to approaching dancers, particularly beginners, which role you’re dancing. This can be done by making eye contact, clearly offering the appropriate hand, and additionally saying “I’m the gent/lady” if helpful. If you’re swapping, you shoulder extra responsibility for dance excellence. If we follow this “prime directive” of respecting the line, role swapping will continue to grow in acceptance and popularity, even among those with little desire to do it themselves. …

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Link to the full article, including a list of swappalicious moves and a three-part workshop you can try out with your own local dancers:  Leading a Contra Dance Role-Swapping Workshop

Enjoy! Please let us know your thoughts by posting in the Comments below. Also, if you try the workshop, let us know how it works out for you. It’s through many voices that a community is made.

(NOTE: The very useful “What’s Your Preference? I Dance Both Roles” buttons illustrated at the top of this page are made by Mark Galipeau for the San Francisco Bay Queer Contra Dance (now “Circle Left”), one nexus of the gender-free dance movement. For minimal cost, you can order the buttons for distribution. I’m one of many who has handed out dozens of them to all who want one.)

 

Solabaration! 2016 December 17, 2016

Filed under: Announcements,Arts,Dance — BrujaHa @ 12:55 pm
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Folks along the Front Range of Colorado, come drive the cold winter away tonight with dance, song, story, cheer, xtreme juggling, a mummers’ play and more. All ages are welcome.

I’m honored to be one of the three dance callers.

Solabration Click on the sun for info.

Save

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Dances with Klingons July 20, 2015

Klingon from Affliction (Star Trek Enterprise)At a recent contradance, my day was made when someone jokingly wondered how to say “thank you for the dance” in Klingon* – and someone else actually knew. Daniel Morse, who translates Chinese texts for a living, turns out to also be fluent in Klingon. Without batting an eyelash or pulling out a device, he explained the following.

Ma mi/t mo/ qatlho/  = Thank you for the dance

Ma = we together, Mi/t = dance, mo/= due to, or because of that, qatlho/ = I, to you, thank.  Note his knowledge about grammatical structure differences between Klingon and English too.

I was pretty surprised by the idea that Klingons dance, so even though I trust my friend, I did do a bit of Internet research for confirmation and maybe a scandalous video showing their moves. Indeed, many of these same words appear when calling upon Saint Google.

Another juicy tidbit also arose: several scholars pointed out that while qatlho/ (I, to you, thank) is a Klingon word,  it is not one used by Klingons. So what would Klingons say? “I’m sorry I didn’t stomp hard enough on your foot”?

Whorf

Klingon in the News

You know how interesting things often occur en masse? Around the same time I was delighting in this, applied Klingon language appeared in the news. An UFO was sighted in Wales, and a magnificently nerdy government spokesperson responded.

From the BBC:

Welsh government responds in Klingon to UFO airport query

“Klingon was the chosen language for the Welsh government in its response to queries about UFO sightings at Cardiff Airport.

While English and Welsh are the usual forms of communications in the Senedd, it opted for the native tongue of the enemies of Star Trek’s Captain Kirk.

Shadow Health Minister Darren Millar had asked for details of UFOs sightings and asked if research would be funded. A Welsh government spokesman responded with: “jang vIDa je due luq.” The Welsh government statement continued: “‘ach ghotvam’e’ QI’yaH devolve qaS.” In full it said it translated as: “The minister will reply in due course. However this is a non-devolved matter.”

It is believed to be the first time the Welsh government has chosen to communicate in Klingon.

Mr Millar, shadow health minister and AM for Clwyd West, submitted three questions to economy, science and transport minister Edwina Hart about UFO reports around the airport and across the rest of Wales.

“Responding to the government’s unusual diversion into trilingualism, Mr Millar said: “I’ve always suspected that Labour ministers came from another planet. This response confirms it.””

Click here to read the full account.  See, I didn’t make this up.

More!

The crazy late night search for Klingon dancing terms gave me another moment of linguistic delight before going to bed: there is actually a site dedicated to informing people how to say the vital phrase, “My hovercraft is full of eels!” in multiple languages, from Afrikaans to Zulu.

As if this homage to the bad Hungarian phrasebook in Monty Python’s Flying Circus weren’t enough, as a bonus, the wizards at Omniglot include the phrase in several invented languages – yes, including Klingon.

Klingon:  lupDujHomwIj lubuy’moH gharghmey  (Click here to hear it spoken)

For those of you who may need distraction from insomnia or deadlines, or those with really cool travel plans, here’s how to say it in Quenya, the language of J.R.R. Tolkien’s high elves:

Quenya:  Venenya vilyanirwanen ná quanta as angolingwi

Really, Klingon and Quenya seem no weirder than Welsh or Yiddish:

Welsh: Mae fy hofrenfad yn llawn llyswennod

Yiddish: מײַן פּראָם (שוועבשיף) איז פֿול מיט ווענגערס     (Mayn prom (shveb-shif) iz ful mit vengers)

…I suppose they’re also no weirder than a search for how to say this phrase in the first place. Or to praise your dance partner in Klingon. Ah well. Thanks for reading.

Qapla’! (Success! Good-bye!)

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* For the non-nerdly among our readers, “Klingon” refers to a fictional alien (planetary alien) people and language from TV’s Star Trek.

 

Stellar Days and Nights February 3, 2015

Filed under: Announcements,Dance — BrujaHa @ 10:53 pm
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Stellar 2015

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Hey contradancing folk, consider coming to a long weekend event in the lovely Colorado mountains later this month,

Stellar Days and Nights.

Excellent food, dancing ecstasy, great music, and relaxing fun. It’s held in a summer camp setting, so you get to stay in rustic cabins with running water and dance and eat together in one large hall. You can even x-c ski directly from your cabin!

I’m co-calling with Scott Higgs to the transporting music of Foxfire (Daron Douglas + Karen Axelrod), and two of my favorite local Front Range musicians, Elizabeth Wood + Rodney Sauer.

This year’s event will feature both Contra and ECD (English Country Dance). Plus Rodney will teach contra piano, Erik will lead a late-night techno contra, Daron will lead an English ballad swap, there are jams and workshops for all levels of musicians, Ceili, waltz, and Cape Breton step dancing workshops, and an evening gathering for everyone to share their talent/no-talent. And along with calling contras, I’ll also lead two song sessions (1) Bawdy British Ballads & Funny Chorus Songs;  2) Chants, Rounds and Sacred Songs from Many Traditions), and a genderplay dance workshop.

Come play!!

February 19-22, 2015, near Buena Vista, Colorado.

I just spent the eve plotting the “Gender Shenanigans” workshop with my co-leader, Erik Erhardt. Oh, are we gonna have fun. And further infiltrate the straight dance world. And help enhance everyone’s joy. Hoopla!

There is still space available for you to join in.

For more info and to sign up, see http://www.stellardaysandnights.org/

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Stellar t-shirt

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Solabration! December 19, 2014

Filed under: Adventures,Arts,Dance — BrujaHa @ 2:08 pm
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Solabration! On the eve of December 21 in Denver, Colorado, join me in celebrating the winter solstice at this engaging extravaganza.

Now in its 29th year, this fest is a well-oiled combo of things to do (dancing, eating, caroling in 4-part harmony; yes you can!) and things to witness (storytelling, “extreme juggling,” a mummer’s play, Morris dancing, Balkan singing). And it culminates with the ancestral European magic of the Abbotts Bromley Horn Dance).

I’m calling some of the dances.
Fun will be had. Hope to solabrate with you.

Full info at wsolstice.org (from where I nabbed the photos)

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The Grand March

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Abbots Bromley Horn Dance

IMG_2503.JPGMaster of Ceremonies and master dance caller Chris Kermiet crowns the Solstice Queen and King

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Happy dancers

 

A Toast to the Contra Community January 25, 2011

It doesn’t feel like winter in Sonoma County right now, with glorious 60-degree sunny weather and the hyacinth buds shyly considering peeping out. But as we know the wet is only on pause temporarily, the warmth feels even more sweet.

In winter, even a warmish one, pleasures grow smaller. We sit by the hearth (or far-lesser equivalent, the DVD player) and take in stories, go for walks, clean our homes of old cobwebs, and eat delicious fattening things – an ancient strategy to ensure our survival through the cold dark times of little food.

There are still mushrooms to be had. The other day I enjoyed a breakfast of wildcrafted Elfin Saddles scrambled up in butter with garlic, green onions, eggs and misc herbs, o yum. I found them along the irrigation ditch near my cottage. They’re black and gnarly and easily hidden in the dried grasses, so you’ve got to use sharp eyes to spot them.

And we gather together to dance. I especially love contradancing, both to dance it and to call the dances. I love the tunes too, and someday will get past the mediocre stage of playing musical instruments enough to play for dances. For now, though, it’s all about the feet and the voice and the deep connection to others through shared joy.

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Here’s a toast written specially for the contra dance community, delivered at midnight on New Years Eve 2010.  The North Bay Country Dance Society asked me to give it. You likely didn’t, but I hope you enjoy it anyway.

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A NYE Toast to the Contra Community

by Tina Fields

Gather together – the time is nigh,

The old year it comes to an end.

And we have could certainly done much worse

Than to spend it here, dancing with friends.

The skirts they flew; the notes danced too

As the fiddlers raised a tune –

It’s the dark of the year, but as luck’s with us here,

Our spirits feel bright as in June.

As we think on our lives, and all we’ve survived

We may notice some new aches and pains.

Seems with every year passing there’s some treasure lost,

But the joy that sustains us remains.

So let’s toast to the dance and this circle of joy

And the company gathered here – wow!

Raise your glass high; bid the old year goodbye

And the New Year, come in: Welcome Now!

(Everyone: Welcome Now!)

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Bright blessings to you in 2011. May this year bring you wonderful food, friends, and fun.

And may you continue to receive such good wishes, even long after the official giving-new-years-blessings time is past.

 

Queer Contra Dance Camp April 7, 2010

Filed under: Announcements,Arts,Dance,Singing — BrujaHa @ 7:59 pm
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I’m the lucky songleader for the Queer Contra Dance Camp this year.

Excellent talent, super friendly people, dancing dancing dancing, redwoods, fabulous outfits – who could ask for more?– oh yeah, singing!

Saturday:  EnChantMent! Soul-uplifting chants and rounds. All songs will be led by ear.  Everyone welcome; you do not need to be a “good singer.”

Sunday: Community Choice Singing. More easy chants and rounds, plus rousing and funny chorus songs. (We will go around and each participant will choose a song for the group to sing. Some lyrics provided.)

There may still be room at this very fun weekend camp if you want to attend… click the link above. Or plan ahead for next year: April 8-10, 2011; same place, same channel.

Queer Contra Dance Camp 2010 flyer