Greenfield, MA, 1.8.11 AND 1.9.11
January 10th, 2011
My experience of these two gigs was similar enough that I feel like they belong in one post; the fact that they happened in the same hall gives me an additional reason to pair them.
I was thinking this morning about how many cliches I could apply to my performance over the last two days. Here are a few that I came up with that seem appropriate:
You win some, you lose some.
You are your own worst critic.
You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
Suffice it to say, I didn’t measure up to my own high standards; but I know people still had fun, and I didn’t do any permanent damage to my reputation as a caller. There are times when I find it really easy to stumble and recover in public, an important skill to have in this profession. I had the stumbling part DOWN over the last two gigs; the recovery was mostly absent.
Pooh Bear’s Holiday – Robert Cromartie
Expert Bits – Peter Stix
Hoody’s Peanuts – John Coffman
Balance and Bounce - Marty Fager, var. Nils Fredland
Perceptual Motion (patter square) - Tom Hinds
Petronella Jig - Becky Hill, var. Nils Fredland
Ring Around the Daisy - Shawn Brenneman, var. Nils Fredland
Jim’s Whim - Rich McMath
Slapping the Wood - Don Flaherty
Nelly Bly (singing square)
Kimmswick Express (patter square), w/ circle and swing (break) - Gene Hubert
The Auctioneer (singing square)
Trip Around the Moon (patter square), w/ chain all eight (break) - Tom Hinds
Marianne (singing square)
Java Jive (singing square)
Four Square (patter square), w/ hash break - Ron Buchanan
I Don’t Know Why (singing square)
As I look at these programs, it’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly what went wrong. During the Extravadance, I got de-railed during Hoody’s Peanuts, a new dance (to me) that looks great on paper (lots of neighbor interaction, smooth and constant motion, nice transitions); but the things that seemed right to me about the dance ahead of time didn’t translate to the floor, and there was nothing I could do except end it sooner than I otherwise would have, and move on to a sure-fire dance from my repertoire. I did that with Balance and Bounce, except I chose to try out a variation of the choreography that didn’t work in the way I expected it to. It was still a good dance, but I was disappointed with my judgement in the moment. Next I called Tom’s square, Perceptual Motion, my delivery of which didn’t convert any square-skeptics. The highlight in the latter part of the program was certainly Jim’s Whim, which provided good choreographic variation (the first gypsy and swing of the night, the first star of the night, a square through to progress). Once my portion of the program was over, I got to sit back and witness one of my calling idols work her magic with the crowd…which was awesome, albeit a little difficult given my minor crisis of confidence.
The following day, I headed back to the same hall to share an afternoon of squares with a good friend and calling colleague. He and I talked ahead of time, and resolved to be relaxed and happy in our calling responsibilities. No pressure, self-imposed or otherwise…good times all around. That was the case for the most part, and I did have fun. The personal lesson I took from the afternoon, however, is that calling squares takes practice…LOTS of practice. I discovered fairly quickly that I haven’t been practicing, and it really showed. There were high points, certainly: Nelly Bly, The Auctioneer, Marianne, and Kimmswick Express went about as well as they ever have. I laid myself bare on Trip Around the Moon (which I had danced once before to aforementioned calling idol, but had never called myself…); thanks to the patience and helpful nature of the dancers in the hall, I learned how to teach the figure so that it will be much better next time. My biggest “oops” of the afternoon was Java Jive (another new one to me), which looked fairly straightforward on paper but proved to be anything but; my whole-y unsuccessful presentation brought about a great pep-talk from Ralph Sweet, during which he basically said “don’t give up.”
I won’t give up. I’ll just practice, and try again next weekend. ‘Til next time, friends…