The Third Occasional Bad Contra Choreography Contest
It has been 23 years since the last bad contra contest, and in that time we have seen the rise of a number of new figures, a new generation of choreographers experimenting in unique ways with existing figures, emphasis on smooth flow dancing, dance and music crossovers, mandatory partner swings (in the US) and a new level of comfort with gender-fluid dancing.
Yet, one thing remains constant: it is still pretty easy to inadvertently (or purposely) write a clunker. A dance can have a smooth flow, progress properly, provide an interesting sequence of figures, and still leave dancers unsatisfied, dizzy, confused, or worse. Through it all, the dance community generally manages to laugh it off and move on to new and better things. It is in that spirit of amusement that we offer this contest.
- Only one entry per choreographer. Anonymous entries are not acceptable. If multiple entries are submitted, we will use the latest one submitted before the deadline.
- Submitted dances must be a 64 count, two couple minor set, progressing contra dance (improper, indecent, Becket, etc.), with a partner swing at some point.
- Dance instructions must be clear, concise, unambiguous, and easy to read, with no abbreviations or acronyms.
- Judging will be based on elegance, creativity, and badness.
- The goal is to present a modern contra dance that appears to have to been written with the intent to be a great dance, but turned out terrible.
- Kathy Anderson – Appreciated nationwide for her thrilling squares, quirky contras, and concise teaching, not to mention her occasional off-color jokes, Kathy was also a prior winner of the bad contra contest with the first contra she ever wrote.
- Bob Isaacs – A chess master, Bob has more than anyone else translated chessboard skills into highly fascinating and unique choreographic combinations for contras, squares and his own formations such as grid squares. Upon being asked to join the judges’ panel, Bob’s reply was, “I've written over a thousand bad dances, so I feel fully qualified.”
- Rick Mohr (www.rickmohr.net) – A multi-talented choreographer, caller, musician and community leader, Rick modestly states on his web site of dance gems, “I've written many forgettable dances. Every so often though a decent one emerges, and joins this collection.” Understatement, indeed!
- Chris Page (chrispagecontra.awardspace.us) – The newest choreographer on this panel, Chris’s compositions, such as “A Sure Thing” and “Chinese New Year” are rapidly becoming classics. Chris also keeps the largest database of contra compositions anywhere, so you'll really have to be creative to come up with truly original badness.
- Cary Ravitz (www.dance.ravitz.us) – Perhaps more than any active choreographer today, Cary’s extensive writings on choreography provide an excellent primer for writing good dances. Therefore, to make your dance a contender, be sure to ignore all the recommendations Cary makes. Cary’s site is also renowned as an excellent resource for all things contra.
- Sue Rosen (www.suerosencaller.com) – Having learned her choreographic skills through collaboration with such luminaries as Becky Hill and Larry Jennings, Sue is a respected community leader in the New England area, having organized dance events, camps and festivals for over 30 years.
Submissions due on March 17, 2018 by midnight (EST).
Send your submissions to email@example.com. Submissions directly to the judges will be disqualified.
Please read and follow rule 3 carefully. In particular, watch out for terminology that is not universally understood.Some other notes and instructions for prospective contenders to consider:
- We are planning to announce finalists on or about April 1, and the winner will be announced at an awards ceremony at this year’s New England Folk Festival (NEFFA) the weekend of April 20-22.
- The judges will be reviewing the entries anonymously, which is why you should not send directly to them. Also, be aware that the judges are permitted to submit their own entries, and those entries will only be reviewed by their colleagues.
- Feel free to submit ancillary information, such as clever titles, recommended music, or backstories, although such info may or may not be considered in the judging.
- Patently absurd dances such as, “Becket: partner swing (4), circle left 7x (56), and slide left to next (4)” are not likely to win. Be more creative, playful, and subtle!
- You may create your own figures, but be sure to obey rule 3 and include a comprehensive and understandable description.
- Remember it’s a choreography contest, and not a political statement.
- Please include your name and the location of your local dance to help us make sure our information is being widely distributed. Submissions from all countries are welcome, but note that we will most likely favor “American-style contra dances”.
- Please submit your dance in a format that easily permits cut/copy/paste, such as MSWord. An entry written as the text of your email is fine. Try to avoid .pdf or Excel entries.
- Please include “BCCC3 Entry” somewhere in your subject line to help me easily process them.
- I will acknowledge receipt of your entries as quickly as I can practically manage. If you have not received a confirmation within a week of your submission, please resubmit or write again to request a confirmation.
- If entries are few and I am feeling generous, I may kick back your entry for revision if it violates one of the submission rules (e.g, ambiguity, no progression or partner swing). But, don’t count on this. You do stand a better chance for a revision notice if you submit early.