Hear the Caller -- Connie CarringerJuly 01, 2015
How did you get started calling for contradances?
I was a dancer for many years and then had the opportunity to play music for dances when I was a host at the John C. Campbell Folk School after college. I thought then that I might try calling one day since I enjoyed dancing and playing so much. When I moved to Boone in 2007, there was a major shortage of local callers in the area. I got a lot of encouragement from folks to learn to call, so I tried calling for the first time that year at an open mic night during Winter Dance Week in Brasstown. I was totally hooked! I went back to the Folk School in the summer of 2008 for a week-long dance callers class with Bob Dalsemer. Since then I have been constantly learning and sharing this love of dance with folks all over.
How does being a caller affect your experience as a dancer?
Firstly, I'm always so grateful to be dancing! My calling schedule kept me pretty busy the last couple years and now with a baby I'm not on the dance floor as much as I would like. Every time I get to dance I try to just be in the moment. I'm like a big sponge just soaking in the dancing, music, and love. That being said, I do like to pick up new ways of teaching, new dances, and new ideas for creating community. I also try to live what I teach as a caller by dancing with beginners, guiding others gently and kindly, and not taking myself too seriously. No matter what role I'm playing in the dance (dancer, caller, musician) it is all about connecting with others.
What is the most difficult challenge you face as a caller?
The hardest thing for me has been working with folks who have unrealistic expectations of what I can do and what is appropriate for their dance. It is really important to me that everyone feels welcomed, encouraged and successful dancing, so I'm unlikely to call really challenging dances if there is a large number of beginners. I used to let myself get pushed around by the one or two vocal people who cried out for harder dances, but I learned over the years that my instincts were good; that the dances I felt the best about were the ones in which I found that magical balance between challenge and support. There is a time and place for tricky dances and I enjoy them myself, but I don't need to prove myself as a caller by teaching and calling them. I'd rather just get people moving to music and connecting with each other! I believe that the truly advanced dancer is the one that can have a really great time no matter how simple the dance or inexperienced their partner is.
What else do you do besides attend/call dances (or, what is your day job)?
Other than calling, my life is a crazy jigsaw puzzle of jobs! My main gig is as the Support Group Coordinator at Compass Center for Women and Families, a local non-profit in Chapel Hill. I run support groups around issues of domestic violence, divorce and separation, self-esteem, and children's coping skills. Outside of that, I work from home doing bookkeeping for a family business, officiate weddings, and get to be mama to a wonderful, curious, happy little girl. Calling dances is one of the many joyous things in my life and I'm so grateful that I get do it!
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