From the Mic Episodes

From the Mic Episode 21 – Penn Fix

Dancing is magical. And if you’re willing to dance with someone you don’t know, then good things can happen I think. And you put it in the context that you’re dancing not just with a partner, but you’re dancing with a whole community of people who are very supportive and joyous and having fun, that...

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From the Mic Episode 20 – Susan Kevra

I think the caller ideally should be part of the band. Not to upstage the band, but that there should be an effort to think about what you’re doing musically. ~ Susan Kevra Mary’s guest this month is Susan Kevra, a dance caller, musician, and singer who makes her home in Nashville, Tennessee. Dancers on...

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From the Mic Episode 19 – Ben Sachs-Hamilton

Seeing the community that exists around this dancing—seeing how much it means to people and looking back and seeing how many of the close friendships and relationships in my life have come from this community—I want to do whatever I can to support it and help it grow and thrive. ~Ben Sachs-Hamilton In this episode...

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From the Mic Episode 18 – David Smukler

How many parts of our lives are all organized around this idea of joyful interaction? When we dance, why are we getting together except to do this beautiful thing that’s been around forever and that keeps evolving. ~David Smukler This episode we hear from the most wonderful David Smukler. A dance caller, scholar, organizer, choreographer,...

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From the Mic Episode 17 – Susan Petrick

I love treating each night as an experiment, and it really is, everything comes together differently. No two dances, no two evenings of contra dancing are ever exactly the same. You never know what it’s going to turn out like, but you know it’s going to be unique, never to be exactly duplicated and that’s...

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From the Mic Episode 16 – Catherine Burns

Catherine Burns has been at the heart of the Ottawa contra dance scene for decades. Born in Switzerland to Canadian parents Catherine traveled the world in her youth then became the house caller for the Old Sod Folk Music Society when they started a dance in the late 90s. Since then, she’s been a steady presence in the Ottawa...

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From the Mic Episode 15 – Luke Donforth

It’s amazing to see that many people just blissed out and dancing and having gotten to help them get there as a collective, as a group of people…and being like, “I helped this.” I didn’t play an instrument, but I helped them get there together with the music… ~ Luke Donforth This month Mary is...

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From the Mic Episode 14 – Steve Zakon-Anderson

 I think what the caller brings is probably different for each person who’s there…it’s experience, it’s confidence, it’s preparation, it’s knowing your material. But it’s all packaged and presented with your personality.  ~ Steve Zakon-Anderson In 1980, Steve walked into his first contra dance not knowing how it would change his life! He started calling...

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From the Mic Episode 13 – Louise Siddons

In this episode, Mary interviews Louise Siddons about her involvement with communities in Michigan and Oklahoma, and across the pond in the UK. We'll also learn about her work developing and teaching the practice of “positional calling” for social dance, which has recently culminated in a new book, published through CDSS, called Dancing the Whole Dance: Positional Calling for...

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From the Mic Episode 12 – Wendy Graham

My only job is to help people have fun. Fun, F-U-N, three letter word. That’s it! ~ Wendy Graham Wendy Graham (Durango, Colorado) is a self-proclaimed “dance maniac.” Her passion for music, song and dance caught fire in 1991 on a Danish-American Exchange (DAE) youth dance tour to Denmark. Today, Wendy leads English and American...

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From the Mic Episode 11 – Will Mentor

This episode, Mary talks with Will Mentor, who began his calling career in Fairfield, Iowa, 1995. Since then he has called dances, dance weekends, and weeklong dance camps all over the United States. Canada, and Europe. Now from Northern Vermont, Will is known for his clear teaching, upbeat wit, and relaxed stage presence. He loves to choreograph evenings with...

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From the Mic Episode 10 – Chrissy Fowler

It’s not about perfection in the execution. It’s not about the complicated figures that we all can do. It’s not about the puzzle. It’s really about the people and how this vehicle can bring all those people together.  ~ Chrissy Fowler Chrissy Fowler grew up in the shadow of Maine’s highest mountain, Katahdin. She went...

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From the Mic Episode 9 – Sue Rosen

I think my favorite gigs are those for total non-dancers because the look on their faces when they’re having such a blast, it’s just so rewarding to see people get into it. ~ Sue Rosen A leading caller of contras, squares, English country dance and family dance programs, Sue Rosen has been actively calling for...

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From the Mic Episode 8 – Chris Ricciotti

There’s no greater love than bringing new people into a dance and having them smile and say, I love this, I want to come back. That gives me the biggest thrill and the biggest feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction and joy. ~ Chris Ricciotti Meet Chris: I fell in love with dancing as a young...

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From the Mic Episode 7 – Chris Page

This episode, Mary talks with caller and choreographer Chris Page, who has called contras and English country dance in San Diego for about 15 years. When calling, his main concern is being serious about dancers not taking themselves too seriously. Along with Michael Dyck, he's turned his obsession with the history of contra dance choreography into something productive through...

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From the Mic Episode 6 – Sue Hulsether

This episode, we talk with Sue Hulsether, a dance caller, teaching artist, clogger, and musician hailing from Wisconsin. Since 2003, she has travelled from coast to coast to lead dances in dance halls, schools, barns, and community centers. Dancing with thousands of school children each year, her artist-in-residence career has risen out of the skills she gained from over...

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From the Mic Episode 5 – Gaye Fifer

…we’re part of creating something that’s unique and unusual where nobody’s worrying about tomorrow or feeling bad about what happened yesterday. We’re just in this experience totally together. I love that feeling. ~ Gaye Fifer Gaye Fifer is an accomplished caller from Pittsburgh, PA. An active dancer herself, Gaye understands the subtleties of making dances particularly...

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From the Mic Episode 4 – Tony Parkes

In this episode Mary interviews Boston based caller Tony Parkes. Tony is an encyclopedia of square and contra dance history, full of vivid recollections of the many mentors and sources of inspiration that have made him the caller, dance leader, and person that he is today. From his beginnings as a 14-year-old stepping up to the mic at Farm...

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From the Mic Episode 3 – Sarah VanNorstrand

This episode, Mary talks with Sarah VanNorstrand, who has been calling, organizing and teaching contra, square, and family/community dances for over 15 years. They trace the roots of her connection to traditional music and dance back to her teenage years in Syracuse, and she shares her thoughts about matching dance choreography to music, including what she learned working alongside...

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From the Mic Episode 2 – Lisa Greenleaf

I’m a guide and I am the linchpin in the evening…It’s a big responsibility and I love doing it! ~ Lisa Greenleaf Lisa Greenleaf has been calling for many years throughout the USA and internationally for dances, weekends, and weeklong camps. Her specialties include traditional and contemporary contras, fun squares, challenging dances of all shapes...

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From the Mic Episode 1 – Phil Jamison

Welcome to From the Mic! “One night the caller wasn’t there and somebody had to call the dances and I gave it a try…” ~ Phil Jamison In the debut episode of From the Mic we meet Phil Jamison of Asheville, North Carolina. Phil is nationally-known as a dance caller, old-time musician, and flatfoot dancer. He...

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