The CNY Callers Gathering

Tentative Date: March 18, 2023
This Year’s Theme:
Global/Positional Teaching and Calling

Many dance communities are asking callers to use gender-free language when teaching or calling. Often this means using alternative terms for dance roles–most commonly “larks” and “ravens” in place of “gents” and “ladies.” This trend had already begun pre-pandemic, and has continued as dancing has started up again over the past months. At this moment the landscape across multiple dance communities is potentially confusing for callers, as preferences vary both across and within communities.

Teaching and calling positionally eliminates both gendered language and terms that are substitutes for gendered language. Whether or not you have tried to do this, we hope you will find working together on the skills required to call positionally helpful to your teaching. Many have found this to be true, even if they continue to use historical or alternative role-terms.

Please note that the gathering will NOT to be a forum to debate the merits of global/positional calling. We do not intend to discuss why you might prefer one sort of language over the other. We also don’t plan to spend time talking about role-swapping. We are by no means trying to minimize the importance of such discussions, but there are many other opportunities to talk about those topics, and we plan to use the callers gathering, as we always have, to focus on shop talk and some “how-tos” for specific dances.

Planning is already underway. For further information, you may check this page from time to time to see what details have been added, or contact David at Registration will open in January of 2023.

COVID-19 Note

During the gathering, we will follow whatever COVID-19 protocols are in place at the time. These have changed over time as the situation with the virus has continued to evolve. It is not possible to predict what our public health situation will be several months out, but if at all possible we will hold a face-to-face callers gathering. If you register but are unable to attend for health reasons, we will cheerfully refund your deposit.  

Description of the CNY Callers Gathering

Our callers gatherings are an opportunity for callers and people interested in calling to get together and “workshop” dances in a friendly and supportive environment. We choose a topic to focus on for the day and work with each other to learn from specific dances and from the collective experiences brought to the gathering by the participants.

While many callers’ workshops use a teacher/student or mentor model, where a particularly skilled caller is brought in to teach and share experiences with the group, we have taken a different approach. The CNY Callers Gathering brings callers of all levels of experience together so that we can learn from the material we’re studying and from each other in a more egalitarian way. The focus is on the topic and dances that relate to it. We always learn much through the topic, and also enjoy connecting with other callers from all over New York State and beyond to “talk shop” to our hearts’ content.

Themes from Gatherings Past

The first annual CNY Callers Gathering in 2002 was one of three such gatherings nationwide where a group of callers attempted to dance all 41 of Ted Sannella’s triplets.

  • 2002- Ted’s Triplet Marathon (the button read: “I was there”)
  • 2003- Favorite Dances Exchange (modeled on a Christmas cookie exchange)
  • * 2004- “Cracking Chestnuts” (classic American contra dances)
  • 2005- “Beyond Hands Four” (dances in unusual formations)
  • 2006- ONS Dances (one night stands: family dances, parties, etc.)
  • 2007- Dances of Gene Hubert (honoring his contributions)
  • 2008- English Country Dancing (for many of us, an ESL workshop)
  • 2009- “Living Room Dances” (dances for small numbers of dancers)
  • 2010- “Zesty Contras” (exploring Larry Jennings’ game-changing book from 1983)
  • 2011- “Square ’em Up!” (contra callers taking the plunge into calling squares)
  • 2012- “Back of the Box” dances (the dances we keep looking at and are unwilling to discard, but somehow don’t get put into the programs we plan)
  • * 2013- “Cracking Chestnuts Revisited” (during which we videotaped several lesser known classic dances, and grew inordinately fond of the hands-free and proper right and left through)
  • 2014- “Exploring the Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend Syllabi” (diving into over a quarter century’s worth of the syllabi that document a dance event that bridges old and new)
  • 2015- “100 Years of CDSS” (part of the year-long celebration of the Country Dance and Song Society’s centennial)
  • 2016- Twenty-first Century Dances
  • (2017)- No Callers Gathering this year
  • 2018- “First of Its Kind” (the first dance where a particular figure or sequence appeared)
  • (2019)- No Callers Gathering this year (Hands Four Dancers of Ithaca sponsored a callers workshop with Kathy Anderson with a focus on calling squares)
  • (2020-2022)- No Callers Gatherings due to COVID-19 Pandemic

* The two gatherings related to contra chestnuts contributed to the creation of an online bank of annotated videos to illustrate these classic dances. Some of the videos were, in fact, made at our gathering, thanks to a grant from The Country Dance and Song Society (CDSS).-