The portal contains a vast range of resources by and for the dance, music, and song community. From expert tips from fellow organizers and callers, to databases of dances and songs, find what you need to help engage with the traditions you love!

Resources added before 2022 do not all have explicit permission from the authors. If your resource is in the portal and you’d like it removed, please email us.

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Tip: Selecting multiple checkboxes will give you more specific results. For example, to see specific resources for contra dance callers, select both Callers and Contra Dance.

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283 Results

How to Play Contra Dance Percussion

Melissa Kacalanos explains how to play percussion for reels and jigs, using Middle Eastern rhythm notation.

Categories: Contra Dance, Musicians

Footboard: How To

How to make your own footboard, including a piezo contact microphone, from Jeff Kaufman.

Categories: Contra Dance, Musicians

Mandolin Microphone Placement

In this blog post, Jeff Kaufman (Free Raisins) gives research-based suggestions for how to mic a mandolin.

Categories: Contra Dance, Musicians

Contra Dance Mandolin: Chords

In this blog post, Jeff Kaufman (Free Raisins) explains and gives audio examples of percussive mandolin playing for contra dances.

Categories: Contra Dance, Musicians

Mandolin Teaching Videos

A series of videos from Jeff Kaufman (Free Raisins) about how he plays mandolin for contra dances.

Categories: Contra Dance, Musicians

Learning Contra Guitar

In this blog post, Jeff Kaufman describes some basics of playing guitar for contra dances.

Categories: Contra Dance, Musicians

Notes on Playing Contra Dance Piano

Eric Anderson provides many ideas on how to play piano for contra dances in these notes taken from a live workshop.

Categories: Contra Dance, Musicians

Perpetual e-Motion Interview Series

Interviews with Perpetual e-Motion (Ed Howe, John Cote) on a variety of aspects of playing for contra dances including fiddling for dance, guitar rhythms for dance, fitting music and dance, acoustic playing, electronic effects, and doing your own sound.

From Dennis C Merritt

Categories: Contra Dance, Musicians

Assembling Sets for Contra

In this blog post, Jeff Kaufman explores some considerations to make when creating dance sets. Community discussion follows.

Categories: Contra Dance, Musicians

Matching Tunes to Dances

In this blog post, Jeff Kaufman provides some thoughts on how to match tunes to contra dances.

Categories: Contra Dance, Musicians

Should Square Music be ‘Square?’

This blog post discusses when (and if) tunes played for square dances should follow the 32-bar AABB format.

From the Dance Caller’s Journal

Categories: Musicians, Square Dance

Playing Together with Style

In this blog post, The Last Gaspé reflect on what it takes to be good band and how to play together effectively.

Categories: Contra Dance, Musicians

Calling Chords

In this blog post, Jeff Kaufman explains how to call chords during the middle of a dance so that fellow bandmates know where the chord progression is going.

Categories: Contra Dance, Musicians

Topics: Open Bands

Free Raisins Video Interview Series

In this video, series the Free Raisins (Amy Englesberg, Audrey Knuth, and Jeff Kaufman) talk about a variety of aspects of playing for contra dances with musical examples including phrasing, balancing rhythm and melody, varying chords, droning (pedaling), complex variations, balance of an evening, and evolution of a band. 

From Dennis Merritt

Categories: Contra Dance, Musicians

Musicians Column: Aspects of Musicality

This article by violinist Martha Edwards explores the importance of phrasing when playing music for dancers.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Contra Dance, English Country Dance, Musicians

What is Phrasing in Contra Dance?

Jeff explores phrasing in contra dance music and how it relates to the dance figures. The post is followed by a community discussion.

From Jeff Kauffman

Categories: Contra Dance, Musicians

Music for One-Off Barn Dances

In this resource, Thomas describes what is needed from musicians for a one-off barn dance. This is a great resource for musicians who are only getting together once for a dance event.

From Thomas Green

Categories: Community/Family Dance, Contra Dance, Musicians, Square Dance

Playing for Old Time Dances

Some of the key considerations when playing for old time dances (various dance styles over the evening).

From Vivian and Phil Williams

Categories: Contra Dance, Musicians, Square Dance

Andrew VanNorstand on Playing for Contra Dances

In this six-part video series, Andrew talks about the difference between playing for a concert and playing for a dance, matching tunes with dances, working with callers, and more.

From Dennis Merritt

Categories: Contra Dance, Musicians

Playing for Contras: The Basics

This three-page PDF provides the basics needed to understand how contra dance music fits the dance.

From CDSS

Categories: Contra Dance, Musicians, Novices

Playing for English Country Dance: The Basics

This three-page PDF provides the basics of how to play for English Country Dance.

From CDSS

Categories: English Country Dance, Musicians, Novices

Choosing Contra Dance Shoes

In this blog post, Jeff explores how to choose shoes for dancing.

From Jeff Kaufman

Categories: Contra Dance, Dancers

English Country Dance and Its American Cousin

ECD and contra dance share some of the same historical roots. This article by describes those roots and how the two styles have changed over time.

From Alan Winston

Categories: Contra Dance, English Country Dance

Topics: History

Introduction to Pronouns

Miriam Newman explains the movement towards asking people about their pronouns.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Callers, Dancers, Educators, Musicians, Organizers, Singers

Topics: Equity

5 Things…Inside the Dancing Mind of…

A one-hour chat with Q&A from movers and shakers in the English Country Dance community from across the country about the 5 things that they feel are important to our passion for ECD and why. 

From the Historical Tea and Dance Society.

Categories: Callers, English Country Dance, Musicians, Organizers

Contra Syncretist Flourish Videos

A video archive of over 100 video showing how to do various contra dance flourishes.

From Contra Syncretist

Categories: Contra Dance, Dancers

Introducing a Beginner to Contra Dancing

An article published in the CDS Boston Center newsletter discussing the fine art of teaching a beginners session at a contra dance. 

From Chris Weiler

Categories: Callers, Contra Dance

Tips on Being a Better Contra Dancer

A number of tips exploring a wide range of aspects in how to become a better contra dancer.

From Cary Ravitz

Categories: Contra Dance, Dancers

Dance Technique Notes

This website contains an extensive list of topics for dancers of various levels. This includes everything from awareness and consideration as a dancer to how to enjoy dancing more. Useful both for teachers of dance and dancers.

From Colin Hume

Categories: Callers, Dancers

10 Tips for Contra Dancing With Kids

Miriam reflects on how dancers can be more supportive of children and youth within the contra dance context. Some helpful considerations for dancing with children. While the context of the article is contra dancing, the ideas also apply to many other forms of dance.

From Miriam Axel-Lute

Categories: Contra Dance, Dancers, Families

Technique for Swinging, Connection and Allemandes

John Sweeney provides some excellent descriptions and images of techniques for swinging, connection, and allemandes. There is a focus on how to improve dancing skills and prevent injuries.

From John Sweeney

Categories: Dancers, Novices

Running Behind: Rush to Catch Up Or Not?

An article from Laura Brodian Freas Beraha on what to do when you are behind in the dance/music.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Dancers, English Country Dance

Tips on Becoming a Better Intermediate-Level Dancer

An article by Laura Brodian Freas Beraha with 10 excellent tips on how to grow as an intermediate English country dancer.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Dancers, English Country Dance

Dancing Well Weekly Virtual Dance Party

Weekly dance parties for kids (and kids at heart) on Facebook Live and later available to watch anytime. Originally designed for veteran and military families, but open to all.

Categories: Families

Virtual NEFFA: Barn Dance

Don Veino calls a virtual barn dance, with music by Julie Metcalf and Max Newman.

Categories: Families

Virtual NEFFA: Family Songs & Dances

Susan and Isabelle Taylor show us three dances that families can do at home.

From NEFFA

Categories: Families

Stories and Music Activities for Children

From Peter and Mary Alice Amidon

Categories: Families

Stuntology videos

Sam Bartlett is famous at CDSS family camps for his hilarious and captivating stunts. Learn some of them with these videos!

From Indiana Public Media

Categories: Families

CDSS at Home: Sue Hulsether Teaches the Spoons

Dance caller and music educator Sue Hulsether teaches how to play the spoons, aided by Clara from Asheville, NC.

From CDSS

Categories: Families, Musicians

Barn Dance! A Musical Story Time

Enjoy a story with illustrations, lively music, and the chance to try out a dance or two!

From the Chillicothe (Illinois) Public Library and the Newport String Project

Categories: Families

Trycontra.com

A website of contra dances where you can enter your zip code and it will list dances close by. You can also look at the full list of dances.]

From Jeff Kaufman

Categories: Contra Dance, Dancers, Organizers

The Caller Directory

The Caller Directory is a spreadsheet listing self-submitted callers, their contact information, and what they call. It also provides space for references, video links, and a comment from the caller.

From Luke Donforth

Categories: Callers, Dancers, Organizers

Gender Free Contra Facebook Group

This Facebook group is for enthusiasts of Larks and Ravens terminology. However, other ways of welcoming LGBTQIA dancers into contra and other folk dances are also on topic. The group offers resources, discussion, and strategy.

Categories: Callers, Contra Dance, Dancers, Organizers

Topics: Discussion, Equity

Rising Contra Dance Callers’ Collective Facebook Group

This Facebook group is an online community of callers who support each other in a wide range of caller topics.

Categories: Callers, Contra Dance

Topics: Discussion

Community Dance Facebook Group

This Facebook group was established to share choreography and video links of ‘family friendly’ community dances for dance leaders and callers, and also to provide information about opportunities for caller education.

Categories: Callers, Community/Family Dance

Topics: Discussion

Shared Weight: English Country Dance Discussion List

The Shared Weight ECD listserv (email group) is for discussion of all aspects of modern and historical English Country Dance and related forms as they have relevance to the discussion. (Related forms include contra, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, contradanza, Victorian longways dances, quadrilles, cotillions, etc.). The list is intended for callers, dancers, organizers, and musicians, who are all part of one community. Join the discussion!

Categories: Callers, English Country Dance, Musicians, Organizers

Topics: Discussion

Shared Weight: Contra Callers Discussion List

This mailing list (email group) welcomes contra dance callers and people who are interested in learning about calling for contra dances. List members ask/answer questions, discuss issues that come up for them, and share helpful resources. There are both new and experienced callers from throughout North America and beyond. Join the discussion!

Categories: Callers, Contra Dance

Topics: Discussion

Shared Weight: Trad Callers Discussion List

Trad Callers is a discussion list (email group) with wide-ranging interests. The group welcomes callers interested in community dances, dancing for children, one-night stands, traditional squares, and other forms outside the contra dance and ECD realm. List members ask/answer questions, discuss issues that come up for them, and share helpful resources. The list is a great way to talk with trad callers from throughout North America and beyond. Join the discussion!

Categories: Callers, Dancers

Topics: Discussion