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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Use the search box and filters below to find resources.
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

A Barn Dance Repertoire

This website includes a large collection of English barn dances as well as tips for playing, resources for beginners, descriptions of terms, and more.

From Thomas Green

Categories: Callers, Community/Family Dance, Musicians

Topics: Choreography

Elements of Country Dance

A comprehensive description of each of the 50+ basic dance figures in ECD.

from Hugh Stewart

Categories: Callers, Dancers, English Country Dance, Novices

Dance Kaleidoscope’s Dance Animations

This website contains the instructions for many English country dances, and also includes digital animations in order to observe how dancers move throughout the dance.

From Sheree Greenhill

Categories: Callers, Contra Dance, Dancers, English Country Dance

Topics: Choreography

The Sheffield Collection

This online collection of approximately 100 English country dances comes from some earlier collections (e.g., Thompson; Wilson; Wright) as well as dances composed by Ken Sheffield. Both the music notation as well as instructions for the dance are provided.

From CDSS

Categories: Callers, English Country Dance, Musicians

Topics: Choreography, Repertoire

Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend Syllabi 1998-2017

This is a very extensive collection of traditional dances from New England as called at each annual dance weekend. A significant portion of the program celebrates the tradition’s roots and includes choreography for traditional contras and quadrilles, triple minor dances, singing squares, and couple dances as part of the program.

From RPDLW and UNH

Categories: Callers, Contra Dance, English Country Dance, Square Dance

Topics: Choreography

English Country Dance Video Playlists

The Childgrove channel on YouTube is a repository of over 100 videos of English country dancing and is a source of instruction on how to dance many of the finest dances choreographed by Fried de Metz Herman.

From Paul B Ross

Categories: Callers, Dancers, English Country Dance

A Look at Southern Squares

A useful and informative orientation, plus a variety of figures for little circle (two couple), big set, and square formations.

From Bill Martin 

Categories: Callers, Square Dance

Topics: Choreography

Kentucky Mount Square Dancing

This book by Patrick Napier (available online as a PDF) provides a wonderful introduction to Kentucky Mountain Square Dancing. The book includes a bit of history and general calling tips prior to describing many Big Set and Running Set figures. It also includes fillers and closing calls.

From CDSS

Categories: Callers, Square Dance

Topics: Choreography, History

Kentucky Running Set

A useful and informative introduction, plus a variety of figures for big set, square, and two couple formations.

From Hugh Stewart

Categories: Callers, Square Dance

Topics: Choreography

The Bolton Collection

This online collection of Charles Bolton’s work contains both interpretations of 17th and 18th-century English country dances (with music) as well as nine booklets of Charles’ original dances and tunes.

From CDSS

Categories: Callers, English Country Dance

Topics: Choreography

Dances by Rick Mohr

Contra, square, grid square, and mixer dances composed by Rick Mohr.

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

Topics: Choreography

Sitting Square Dances

A collection of square dances for seated dancers. Descriptions of the figures are here.

From Fred Wersan

Categories: Callers, Square Dance

Topics: Accessibility, Choreography, Equity

Dances by Bob Dalsemer

Contra and square dances composed by North Carolina caller Bob Dalsemer.

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

Topics: Choreography

The Challenge Square Dancing Handbook

This handbook by Clark Baker includes terminology and concepts used in higher levels of modern Western square dance.

Categories: Callers, Experienced Participants, Square Dance

10 Simple English Dances For Beginning Callers and/or Beginning Dancers

From CDSS

Categories: Callers, English Country Dance, Novices

Topics: Choreography

West Virginia Square Dances

This online version of Bob Dalsemer’s book describes dance figures as done in five rural West Virginia communities in the 1970s and reports on their regular dance events, including programming, type of audience, price and method of admission, and the traditions of figure calling and musical performance.

Categories: Callers, Square Dance

Topics: Choreography, History

ContraDB

ContraDB is a large online collection of contra dances.

From David Morse

Categories: Callers, Contra Dance

Topics: Choreography

English Dance & Song’s Contra and Longways Dances

An archive of the contra and longways dances published in English Dance and Song (EFFDS’s magazine)

From John Sweeney

Categories: Callers, Contra Dance

Topics: Choreography

The Old-Time Kentucky Running Set

This article by Stu Jamieson covers variations on the Southern Appalachian big circle/set formation, including descriptions of the dances, calls, and more.

Categories: Callers, Square Dance

Topics: Choreography

The Caller’s Box

This is an extensive collection of contra dances (approx 12,000) writen by dozens of callers. It includes the full written dances in addition to information such as the author, formation, and progression. There are even links to videos of many of the dances! The collection covers many (but not all) dances found on other sites.

From Chris Page and Michael Dyck

Categories: Callers, Contra Dance

Topics: Choreography

Michael Dyck’s Contra Dance Index

An extensive index of contra dances with the goal of capturing all contras written since 1953. While it doesn’t include the full written dances, it includes information such as the author, formation, and where to find the dance.

From Michael Dyck

Categories: Callers, Contra Dance

Topics: Choreography

Dance Organizer

This is a free software for organizing your collection of dances. It comes with Colin’s collection of over 2000 dances, including English country dance (Playford and traditional style), American squares and contras, Scottish dances, and more.

From Colin Hume

Categories: Callers, Contra Dance, English Country Dance, Square Dance

Topics: Choreography

Techno Contra and Phrasing

In this blog post, Jeff explores the challenges of phrasing when calling for techno contras.

From Jeff Kaufman

Categories: Callers, Contra Dance, Musicians

Topics: Techno

Leading a Contra Dance Role-swapping Workshop

This article by Erik Erhardt and Tina Fields describes one approach to running a workshop where dancers develop familiarity and skill in dancing both dance roles.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Callers, Contra Dance, Organizers

English Country Dancing During the Pandemic

This site includes an archive of one-person dances for online dancing.

From the Carolina English Country Dancers

Categories: Callers, English Country Dance

Topics: Choreography, Pandemic

Contra Dance Choreography: A Reflection of Social Change

This book (available free online) is based upon Mary McNab Dart’s research into the changing choreography of contra dance, including how dances are composed, what aesthetic principles underlie their composition, and how the evolution of the choreography reflects changes in the preferences and priorities of the people who dance them.

Categories: Callers, Contra Dance, Organizers

Topics: Composing, History

The Origins of English Country Dance

Mary Peralta Railing provides a brief history of how English country dance came to be.

From Colin Hume

Categories: English Country Dance

Topics: History

Square Dancing in the 1800s

This blog contains some historical information about square dancing in the US.

From Fred Feild

Categories: Square Dance

Topics: History

A Figure By Any Other Name: Exploring Alternatives to Gypsy

This article by Katy German, Sue Stanton, and Jeff Kaufman explores the use of the term “gypsy” in calling and presents a range of alternative options.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Callers, Dancers, Organizers

Topics: Equity

Response to: “A Figure by Any Other Name: Exploring Alternatives to Gypsy”

Dragan Gill’s exploration of the term gypsy, both in terms of how it is used in dance as well as in the broader cultural context.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Callers, Dancers, Organizers

Topics: Equity

Northern Junket Archive

Northern Junket was a square dance magazine published from 1949 until 1985 by Ralph Page, a renowned figure in New England folk dancing. Each issue containes directions and tunes for squares, contras and folk dances as well as folk songs, recipes, riddles, tongue-twisters, old wives’ tales, and other folklife traditions.

Categories: Callers, Community/Family Dance, Contra Dance, Dancers, Musicians, Singers, Square Dance

Topics: Choreography, Repertoire

The Hatchlings—Developing Callers in St. Louis

Martha Edwards describes a model for developing callers that she feels will work in many different community contexts.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Callers, Contra Dance, English Country Dance, Novices, Organizers

Topics: Starting Up

Feedback Tool: Try This at Home Too!

Linda Henry presents an approach to collecting and using feedback that callers might find helpful in improving their own calling.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Callers, Dancers, Novices

Madison’s Tuesday Night Dances: Fostering Talent for More Than 20 Years

This article by Carol Ormond describes Madison’s approach to developing talent through weekly dances that feature newer callers as well as an open band.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Dancers, Musicians, Organizers

Topics: Starting Up

Nontraditional Funding and Focused Mentorship: How We’re Growing a New (Awesome) Contra Dance Community

Dela Murphy describes Portland, Maine’s approach to training and mentoring new callers, including how they source funding for that work.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Callers, Contra Dance, Organizers

Training New Contra Callers in Portland, ME

Dugan Murphy describes Portland, Maine’s experience in training new contra callers.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Callers, Contra Dance, Organizers

Tom’s Contra Page – Choreography

Tom Lehmann’s thoughts on composing contra dances.

Categories: Contra Dance

Topics: Composing

Composing Dances

Colin Hume’s thoughts on composing dances.

From Colin Hume

Categories: Dancers

Topics: Composing

Cary Ravitz’s Rules on Choreography

Cary Ravitz provides a list of the rules he follows when writing a dance.

Categories: Contra Dance

Topics: Composing

Writing Dances: A Conversation with Erik Hoffman

Evo Bluestein interviews Erik Hoffman about how Erik started writing dances and his process. Some of Erik’s dances are featured in the article.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Dancers

Topics: Composing

Working and Communicating with the Band

A list of nine tips by Nan Evans and Fred Nussbaum for working with bands for English country dance.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Callers, English Country Dance, Novices

How to Get Gigs as a Dance Musician

This two-page resource contains a number of great ideas on how to get gigs as a dance musician. Many of the ideas are also applicable to callers as well as other types of musicians.

From CDSS

Categories: Callers, Dancers, Musicians, Novices

History of Larks/Ravens

In this blog post, Jeff presents a history of Larks/Ravens. The post is followed by a community discussion.

From Jeff Kaufman

Categories: Dancers, Organizers

Larks and Ravens: A Report from the Field

Dela Murphy and Dugan Murphy make a case for gender-free calling and describe how communities can transition to using gender-free terms.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Dancers, Organizers

Topics: Equity

5 Things… Inside the Dancing Mind of…Global Terminology/Positional Calling with Brooke Friendly

Darlene Hamilton’s discussion with Brooke Friendly focused on teaching with global terminology and positional calling—something Brooke has been doing for years but which is particularly relevant to the current interest in teaching without reference to gender roles.

FromThe Historical Tea and Dance Society

Categories: Callers, Dancers

Topics: Equity, Non-Gendered

Positional Calling Workshop for Contra Dance Callers

Louise Siddons’s introductory workshop to help contra callers discover how the calling skills they have already cultivated can be enhanced by positional thinking, teaching, and calling. It also teaches how to use those skills to create a more welcoming, inclusive atmosphere at dances. 

From Friends of Cecil Sharp House

Categories: Callers, Contra Dance

Topics: Equity, Non-Gendered

Positional Calling Workshop for English Country Dance Callers

The video of this introductory workshop by Louise Siddons will help ECD callers discover how the calling skills they have already cultivated can be enhanced by positional thinking, teaching, and calling. It also teaches how to use those skills to create a more welcoming, inclusive atmosphere at dances. 

From Friends of Cecil Sharp House

Categories: Callers, English Country Dance

Topics: Non-Gendered

5 Benefits of Positional Calling (and one challenge)

Video of a workshop with Louise Siddons, moderated by Brooke Friendly, at Fall Frolick 2021.

From the Bay Area Country Dance Society

Categories: Callers, Dancers

Topics: Equity, Non-Gendered

Get Into Position for Social Dancing

Louise Siddons explains how she uses positional calling for Playford and contra dances—and that positional calling has the potential to make dancing more fun for everyone. Includes choreography for three positionally-called dances.

From EFDSS

Categories: Callers, English Country Dance

Topics: Non-Gendered

Gender-free calling: why does it matter?

Lisa Heywood discusses the importance of gender-free calling and offers some practical tips on how to get started.

From EFDSS

Categories: Callers, Dancers, Organizers

Topics: Equity, Non-Gendered