Callers Gathering

Our (now biannual) callers gathering is 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 the 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 the dances that relate to it, and not directly on skill-building. But we do 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.

Since 2016 we have run the callers gatherings every other year instead of annually. Typically, we share details about upcoming callers gatherings with former participants through email. However, anyone is welcome to join us. Our next gathering will take place in 2020, tentatively on March 21st. If you think you might want to come to the 2020 gathering, please feel free to contact Bob Nicholson to indicate your interest, or with any questions that you have.

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”
  • (2019)- No Callers Gathering this year (but check out the callers workshop with Kathy Anderson sponsored by the Hands Four Dancers of Ithaca, focused on calling squares)

* 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).