Tips for Experienced Dancers

Experienced dancers should welcome newer dancers into our community by asking them to dance, and helping them to have a fun, satisfying evening. Refrain from extra twirls, spins, dips, etc. This can be disorienting, slowing the learning process for the new dancer. The goal is to help newer dancers face the right direction and smile! Keep verbal instructions to an absolute minimum. Point, tap on the shoulder, use other signals, or call their name. It is hard for newer dancers to listen to you, other dancers, the caller, and the music all at the same time.

Flourishes: Twirls, dips, cuddles, and other moves that are led-and-followed are borrowed from couples dancing (swing, tango, etc.). They are not part of the traditional contra dance repertoire, but adding them is an example of the evolution of the folk art process. Flourishes are enjoyed by many dancers, but remember that:

  • Flourishes are added by mutual consent, by dancing with a person several times and developing an understanding of their preferences.

  • A lead is an invitation, which may be accepted or declined. Some dancers love to twirl (or dip or spin or cuddle), while others do not. Some may choose to add flourishes with particular partners and not with others. Newcomers who are unaccustomed to twirling may be prone to motion sickness from lots of twirling and swinging. Never force a move on any partner if they don’t follow the lead or otherwise signal resistance.

  • Master the basics first: Flourishes should be completed in time to move on to the next move with the music. Holding a dip past the end of the musical phrase, or twirling out of a swing too late, makes you unavailable for your neighbors. This is inconsiderate and is considered selfish dancing.

  • Advanced dancing does not mean doing the fanciest dancing all the time; rather, it is having good judgment for when flourishes are appropriate and when they are not – for the flow of the dance, the ability of your partner, the crowdedness of the hall, the personal rapport you have with your partner, the style of the music, etc.