kokopelle: Frank n Furter (frank_n_furter)
I had an insightful thought while going through the Spring 2016 LEAF photos. I realized why I am so drawn to swing, aside from the creative challenge I have as a lead.

I dance swing like some people dance contra. I don't know why I can't make that kind of energetic connections in "normal" contra. It's not from a lack of trying given that I've been dancing contra for sixteen years. Techno contra is another animal, closer to what I experience in swing. The bottom line is that while It is magical to see a room full of people connecting, It is more magical to do it yourself.
kokopelle: (Cat - Bunny Love)
One of the magics of contradancing is looking into the eyes of another while performing a swing. I've written about this before, but an especially nice dance recently inspired me to write “Contra Gaze”.


Contra Gaze

A face watched with rapt intent, mine is shared in kind return.
Focus given to this partner, of this I have a tale to tell.
The dance brought us to this place, another week spent to celebrate
the place of dance in our lives, as blessed union now conspires.

Others danced as they could, companions with the tune expressed.
Here is the arrival of the one, finally present in my arms.
A hey for four moved us across to the other side of the line.
Time was spent on other moves, Do-si-do with a allemande.

We count the beats until the swing, sixty-four moved down to less.
Finally a gypsy was the cue, this the move that coaxes us close.
We combine into the swing, supporting each while feet circled.
This becomes our universe as all else spinned except our selves.

This face is all I sought tonight, the eyes into I longed to gaze.
Our bodies move as we looked, eyes beholding the same in each.
So close for just short seconds, an eternity is not enough.
The sequence repeated many times as the dance moved to its end.

A face departs from my view when we bid each goodbye.
My world is now complete, at least until we dance again.
The world is a better place, gulfs decreased between ourselves.
Now we've shared our souls in this world of contradance.

© 2016, Sean Green. All Rights Reserved, 20160228.
kokopelle: (Cat - Bunny Love)
Contra and swing are both social dance forms, but sometimes the world shrinks down to a singular partner. Others may be there, but they aren’t the one in your eyes.

Me and My Sweet
Poem for Day 077 – 20150318

Just me and my sweet out to dance,
going to some contra,
or maybe some swinging blues,
it'll be great fun tonight.

Can't believe my luck
to have a partner in you,
it's a gift from heaven
dancing at my side this night.

We may wait for our turn
to strut our boogie feet
that's OK with me
while I'm dancing with you

The dance floor is full,
dance small they say,
but all I see right now
is my sweet in front of me.

We'll glide across the floor,
hand in hand we'll connect.
My world is wholly content
with you as my partner complete.

A last dip for this song,
wrapped around, safe in arms,
Me and my sweet, dancing a treat,
I'd be nowhere else but here tonight.

© 2015. Sean Green. All Rights Reserved
kokopelle: Frank n Furter (frank_n_furter)
Contradancing is a form of dancing in which the dancer's gazes are mutually engaged. The poem “All in the Eyes” is about the connection between two people when they dance. The world drops away, and the eyes speak louder than words.


All in the Eyes
Poem for Day 060 – 20150301

All in the eyes, that's what they say.
Seats of the soul, that's all I see.
When I dance with you, next to me.

Just smiling, speak not with your lips.
Just touching, sign not with your hands.
Talk with your eyes, volumes to me.

Near as we are, shape matters not,
So close to me, submerged in love,
so speak with your eyes, say it now.

Reveal your need, shared now by me.
Express your passion, flash eyes flirtatious.
I know your needs, they are mine too.

You've spoken to me, shared your dreams.
Lips said no words, eyes spoke instead.
World shrunk to us, staring across.

I'll drown in them, and you in mine.
So much has been said, nothing more,
as I dance with you and you with me.

© 2015. Sean Green. All Rights Reserved
kokopelle: (Cat - Bunny Love)
Contradancing is a very social form of dancing. You have a partner throughout an entire dance, but they are with you during an unsatisfying fraction of the dance time. The rest of the time is spent with neighbors or traveling as the 64 beats of music are discharged. Some couples stretch out their time together by replacing the caller's motions with selfishly cuddly moves. Others just suffer, and this is the subject of “Dancing in Slow Motion”.


Dancing in Slow Motion
Poem for Day 055 – 20150225

We are dancing in slow motion,
you accompanying another,
will you ever be in my arms?

The air carries your scent,
a fragrance of your beauty,
mocking me in my solitude.

Distance so short, almost touching,
I rail against the interval,
a chasm of separation between.

I see every hair, fleck of eye color,
and still we are disunited
segregated by space, mocked by time.

We are to be joined I intone,
the music's tempo matching my angst,
as beats thrum in stretched frequency.

Time is the traitor, forever my foe,
so quickly it took you from me,
and now it holds you far away.

We are dancing in slow motion,
an eternity lived in moments.
Ah, at last you are here again.

© 2015. Sean Green. All Rights Reserved
kokopelle: (Cat - Bunny Love)
“Dancing in Color” is a poem about my home contra dance hall River Falls Lodge (https://www.facebook.com/sean.h.green/media_set?set=a.4030161239214.176945.1437109060&type=3). The orange strips mark the hall's four dance lines. My dance partners are the best!


Dancing in Color
Poem for Day 051 – 20150222

Let's dance in color,
orange strips mark the lines,
beneath the colored lights.
Lights reflect in your eyes,
looking straight into mine,
pools of dancing delight.

Twirl the skirt, round and round
faster than the eye can track,
fabric sewn for the task!
Could I be as fancy dressed?
I doubt it in my shorts and shirt!
You'll look good enough for both.

I'm glad you're my partner,
let's do contra, I'm all warmed up.
I've waited for this all night.
Neighbors will do their thing,
some time spent with them,
and then I'm back in your arms.

Swing my partner, swing the next,
circle left, then pull right through right,
that's how we'll progress.
We're contradancing tonight
you and me, and neighbors too,
beneath the colored lights.

© 2015. Sean Green. All Rights Reserved
kokopelle: (Cat - Bunny Love)
I put together a list of “things you need to know if you date a contradancer”. One day it will be a meme! For now I present to you the poem “I'm a Contradancer”.


I'm a Contradancer
Poem for Day 073 – 20141205

If you want to date me,
let's get this straight
I'm a contradancer
with some things to explain.

I've driven two hours
to the contra event
just to dance for three hours
and then drive home far too late.

We're a strange group,
the guys will wear a dress
No smoking or drinking!
We're just here to dance.

Take my hand in groups of four,
the caller leads our dance.
The moves are easy to learn
as the live band supplies the tunes.

Look into my eyes,
don't dare turn away
a dizzy you'll become
if you don't hold my gaze.

I have some cool moves
to spice up the night.
Let's try some swing and blues.
No worries, it's all contra to me.

I'm just a contradancer,
don't ask me to twerk.
Just before we depart
I'll waltz with you sweetheart.

© 2014. Sean Green. All Rights Reserved
kokopelle: (Cat Viking Kitty One)
We All Dance Contra
(adopted from a song by Weezer! - We All Do Drugs)

When you’re out with your friends
In your new Mercedes Benz and you're
Dancing contra
And you show up late for school cause
You think your really cool when you're
Dancing contra
And you put on your headphones
And you step into the zone when you're
Dancing contra
But the world don't care
If you are or are not there
Cause you're dancing contra

Give it to me
We all dance contra yeah
Never getting enough (Never get enough)
We all dance contra yeah
Give me some of that stuff (Wooooh)

And you twitch in your seat cause
You wanna hit the street when you're
Dancing contra
And you cause such a fuss cause
There's no one you can trust when you're
Dancing contra
And the best of your days
Will all vanish into haze when you're
Dancing contra
And you wish you could quit cause
You're really sick of it but you're
Dancing contra

Give it to me
We all dance contra yeah
Never getting enough (Never get enough)
We all dance contra yeah
Give me some of that stuff (Wooooh)

I want to reach a higher plane
Where things will never be the same (Uh) *

Give it to me
We all dance contra yeah
Never getting enough
We all dance contra yeah
kokopelle: (Cat LOL'd)
I came across a fake (hopefully) newspaper article about a young lady and a bass player.



It inspired me to create my own newspaper article!  Mine featured the coming together of the dance worlds of swing and contra!



kokopelle: (Cat Jazz Hands)

Recently I was talking to a fellow dancer about aspects of contradancing. She shared with me something I didn't know: that guys really needed to improve their giving weight during dances. I thought this was a basic given, but she said no. The guys could do the dips and spins, but the basics of giving weight can be lacking. She has been dancing the male part of the dances and commented that women, as a whole, give better weight. This game me food for thought!

Writing about contra topics like this seems to echo a talk about interpersonal relations. See if you can spot the links between giving weight and supporting a relationships. And away we go!

Giving weight is important for several reasons: keeping the dancers connected and communicating, making other dancers feel safe while keeping them safe, and providing momentum for their moves. All of these are incredibly important for contra to be enjoyable to all involved.

Giving weight is a constant thing. Most every contra move involves the time and correct amount of giving weight. I'm serious about this. Even the simple moves can and should have weight given. The weight given before and after a complicated move provides your partner with the knowledge that you will be there, and in fact you are. Focus on the little moves as you give weight to those around you.

Focusing on weight will keep your dance partners safer. Good weight from the male role will give the female role the confidence to try their own fancy moves because they know the other person will be there to catch them as they fly through space. The female roles will trust you when the fancy dips are performed because they know you have their safety in mind.

A really magical part of giving weight is the momentum it provides other dancers, those in the male and female roles. Contra is about movement, and some really sweet moves happen when dancers propel each other across the floor. This aspect of giving weight is one that is hard to explain, and really fun to experience.

My fellow dancer shared another secret, and this is a big one! Guys, your partners and neighbors really really enjoy a dance with proper weight given. How much? They might enjoy a competent demonstration of weight over fancy dips and spins. Nail down those basics and everyone will enjoy the advanced moves even more!

kokopelle: (Cat - Bunny Love)
I shared my nine thoughts about the perfect contra swing, and then ended the list with the remark that the makings of a perfect contra swing sounded like things that defined a perfect relationship. I pondered this over a lunchtime meal of fish, shrimp, french fries and hush puppies at my local Captain D's.

In reality there are so many types of contra swings, almost as many as the types of relationships we experience in our social world. Each contra swing, and relationship, can be perfect unto itself. The secret to achieving this realizing the appropriateness of the situation. I adapt my contra swing style to a host of factors. These include the experience level of my partner and my closeness to the person. The factors of experience and closeness offer a multitude of situations that I have to adapt my swing to, and they are as applicable in the social relationship world as they are to the contra swing.

Experience is a funny thing when it comes to contra. People come to contra with prior dance experience or no experience. Some partners are naturally nimble on their feet while others push themselves to learn. The resulting dance abilities can give me pleasure, pain, or somewhere in between. My poor aching back aside, I have a contract with my partner to give them the best possible swing that I can, with “best” being driven by their abilities. I may have to slow it WAY down for a beginning dancer. I may have to make it simple, with no fancy flourishes, but that does not prevent a perfect swing from occurring. For others I turn on the flourishes, and remember that I have real responsibility to keep them safe and on time. In the end, if they smile, and I smile because I am not in pain, than a perfect swing can be achieved.

Closeness to my dance partner is a BIG factor in the type of swing I use, and from that, how perfect the swing is for the moment. I've danced with everyone from my significant other to somebody who is dancing contra for the first time. I don't swing the same with everyone, and for good reason! There is potential for the perfect swing in the entire closeness continuum, and the key to finding the perfection is honoring myself and them. I dance real close with my significant other, pretty darn close with friends that I know well, and a respectful distance from people I don't know well. This range is tweaked to accommodate the preferences of my partners. I may have a friend that loves the arm's length speed swing. I'm good with that. A beginner may move in close during a swing. I adjust as much as I can, and then roll with the swing. All of the above can be perfect.

Before I close I want to touch on where things go wrong, and swings are very much not perfect. The clues are in topics of experience and closeness. Things go imperfect when moves are used that are inappropriate to a partner's experience level. The partner becomes flustered and disturbed when they are tossed about, feeling like they are completely out of control. Swings that favor a touch of familiarity, meaning intimacy, are inappropriate when sprung on a person who is not ready for that level of swing commitment! Neither unwanted complexity nor intimacy are typically done out of malice, but adopting a “one size fits all” swing is the sure path to move from perfect swing to imperfect swing.

Looping back to where I start, I was struck by the fact that a replacement of “swing” with “relationship” would turn my list of perfect swing qualities into a manual on relationships. Further, in the paragraphs above, if you change the word “dancing” to “relating”, and “swing” to “encounter”, you get a discourse on relating. These are words of wisdom that I use in both my dancing and my relationships. I belove all my dance partners and all the wonderful people I meet through life. There are SO many different perfect swings and SO many different perfect relationships. I am gifted with many.
kokopelle: (Monty Python - Completely Different)
The swing is the center piece of contra (contradancing). I can't dip worth a darn, knees and back issues, but I can do a decent swing. The swing can be a complicated bit of timing and position between the participants, and it becomes truly a lovely thing when things come together.

Sarah Lyons was one of the first people that I had a “perfect swing” with. I remember that it was an eye-opening, beautiful experience. Recently she visited from school and we got to relive the experience. This has resulted in a few thoughts about the perfect swing.


1) The speed of the perfect swing does not have to be fast or slow, but it does have to be in unison.

2) Physical proximity is best when it is neither too close nor too far. The balance between the freedom to move, and the stabilizing physical connection, is the key. Too close inhibits freedom. To far destabilizes the physical connection. Each couple defines their appropriate proximity.

3) The perfect swing is effortless, like walking on air. The partners support each other even as they propel themselves forward.

4) A smile warmly shared is the indication that all is well in the world. A sincere smile is more important than eye contact.

5) Footwork does not have to be identical. It can be very different as long as each partner is able to do their own thing, together. The important thing is that the result be movement in respectful unison.

6) Gender, body type, social statues, and age are not factors in the perfect swing.

7) The perfect swing is modified to accommodate the physical surroundings as other couples are respected. The result is that the swing is perfect, be it expansive or small.

8) A dancer who is a perfect swing with one person may not have a perfect swing with you. Connections between people are uniquely personal, and the perfect swings we do have should be treasured and not forced.

9) The perfect swing is enjoyed and appreciated by both parties.


Does this sound like a list describing a perfect relationship? It does to me!
kokopelle: (Cat - Felix Laugh)
The Center for the Prevention of Contra Abuse offers the following signs that you or loved ones can look for that may indicate a problem with contra dancing.

1) Increased tolerance, dancing more to get same effect or dancing same amount and not getting desired result. It is common for individuals contra to grow tolerant to the effects of their once a weekend dancing. Dance weekends are sought out to fill the increased tolerance. If you or someone you know has increased the frequency of dancing, this could indicate addiction.

2) Friends and family members concerned about behavior. Changes in a person’s normal behavior can be a sign of dependency. New clothes or shoes will be purchased. A shift to contra will pull them away from activities previously engaged in on week and weekend nights.

3) Changes in a person’s normal behavior can be a sign of dependency. Shifts in energy, mood, and concentration may occur as every day responsibilities become secondary to the need for the relief the dancing provides.

4) Using despite consequences. A contra dancing person will continue to use regardless of impact in the rest of their life.

5) Inability to stop using on your own. A contra dancing person may have tried to quit on their own, many times. However, the brain chemistry and the changes that dancing have on this chemistry, may prevent successful termination of contra dancing.

6) Physical withdrawal when not using. Because of dancing affect on the brain, physical withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, restlessness, and sometimes complete boredom can occur without medical intervention.

7) Change of behavior around non-dancers. As the need for the contra continues, an addicted person may resort to atypical behaviors that will enable them to gain access to the contra dancing. A contra dependent individual may even begin to associate with other dependent people in an effort to seem more normal or even in an attempt to seek more dancing sources.

8) Obsessed with using and planning next use. An addicted person may spend an inordinate amount of time planning or gaining access to more dancing experiences. This could include arranging car pools, visiting many contra venues, and participating in dance weekends.

9) Giving up hobbies and interests due to using. An addicted person will typically lose interest in their normal activities.

10) Encourage others to contra dance as a way of validating their addiction. Recruitment of large groups is not unknown. Sharing contradancing only leads to more contradancing.

If you or a loved one is experiencing any or all of these symptoms, there may be a problem. Call a contradance intervention center now, or just start contradancing so you can see what you're missing!
kokopelle: (Cat - Bunny Love)
Contra (contradancing) is a social experience, and more so than I realized! There is the aspect of having as many as 12-13 dance partners in one evening. The dance experience is shared with each partner for about ten minutes, and during that time a multitude of neighbor couples are interacted with, with the partner shared and other dancers interacted with in brief exchanges of contra moves.

Boy that sounds sociable, enough to make Austin Powers raise an eyebrow, but there is more. I was talking to dancers who do both contra and swing, and I was told that contra is more sociable, with an emphasis on eye contact. Why? The swing community quickly identifies incoming contra dancers because of their intense eye gazing. Dancers were told to “tone down the stares” because the swing dancers were not used to the eye contact intensity. Blues may have contra beat on the intimacy scale with the up close and personal personal dances, but contra has blues and other dance genres socially trumped when it comes to the eyeball beat-down.

There are other social delineations between the dance forms. I am told that the Swing / Lindy style has dancers “doing their own thing” even while the partners cooperate. Blues dancing, and many other forms, the interaction is between one couple. There is no constant influx of new neighbor couples. Square dance, in some ways the most close form of dancing, only has three neighbor couples in each square. A contra line (guessing!) has 10-12 neighbor couples encountered in a single dance.

Bottom line, I love contra for the social experience. As an introverted extrovert, I really need to be pulled out of my shell. I blossom once interacting, and the incredible social experience of contra is the nudge I need.
kokopelle: Frank n Furter (frank_n_furter)
With what?  One out of five will experiment with contra!  A mock psa I created from my original photography.  Enjoy!

One out of Five Teenagers will Experiment with Contra!

kokopelle: (Cat - Felix Face)
I went to the Greenville contra dance on Wednesday, but unfortunately my knees were so cranky that I just took pictures...

IMG_0063

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