President’s Contra Corner
I’m proposing a New Year’s Resolution for our experienced dancers to become “ambi-danceterous” or “bi-dancual” … to become a fluent dancer of both dance roles. This suggestion was originally made last month by Will Loving of western Massachusetts who posted to the SharedWeight.net Organizers message board.
There’s so much to gain from dancing both gender roles! Not only will you be getting on a gender-free wave sweeping the greater contra community, but you have these aspects to look forward to:
- doubling your pleasure by growing your partner options from 50% to 100% of the room
- improving your dancing and sensitivity of other dancers by learning role-specific experiences (and observe that role differences are actually min) and improving dance communication (how you interact) with other dancers
- making more friends by having a chance to play with the “other half”
- welcoming new dancers more easily by being able to dance with anyone, so important to building a vibrant and dynamic community
So, when you’re on the floor these next couple months, consider asking someone to dance and indicate you’d like to dance a specific dance role (“gent” or “lady”, start “left” or “right” in line). “I’d like to dance the lady role, want to dance?”
My experience is that there’s often more play (more fun) when I dance the other gender role, or when I give someone else that opportunity. These are my most memorable dances. I also believe this has a positive community effect of reducing sexist role expectations and creating more equal dance opportunities for everyone.
For callers, it’s imperative to understand how everyone moves and interacts on the floor, and there’s no substitute for dancing a figure from every dancer’s perspective. The experience will often give you insight about where the “trouble spots” are for teaching a figure/call to a new dancer, and when dancers need to hear which words to more quickly have success and enjoy it (and save them from struggling frustratedly). As callers, we also want to encourage dancers to “dance with who’s coming at ‘cha” — it’s the dance position/role (not biology) that determines the interaction between dancers. All of us can be anything we want, when we want.
Erik Erhardt, FolkMADS President