Desert Spring 2018 Schedule


6:30 PM             Hall Opens

7:30 - 9:00 PM   Contra dancing

9:00 - 9:30 PM   Break

9:30 - 11:00 PM Contra dancing

11:30 PM            Hall closed


8:30                      Hall opens for breakfast and coffee

9:30 - 10 AM       Waltzing

10 AM - Noon      Contra dancing and workshops

Noon - 1:15 PM   Catered lunch served on-site

                             Caller's Round Table
1:15 - 1:45 PM     Concert - Rhythm Raptors - Ballroom

2 - 4 PM               Contra dancing and workshops
4 - 4:30                 Break

4:30 - 5:15 PM     Medley - Both bands and callers
5:15 - 7:30 PM     Dinner Break

6:30 PM                Hall Opens

7:30 - 9 PM           Contra dance

9 - 9:30 PM           Break     Raffle ends at 9:30 PM

9:30 - 10:30 PM    Contra dance

10:40 PM - 12:30 AM  Techno dance session

12:45 AM             Hall closes


8:30                        Hall opens for breakfast and coffee
9:30 - 10 AM         Waltzing
10 AM - Noon        Contra dancing and workshops.

Noon - 1:30 PM     Lunch Break (on your now)
1:30 - 2 PM           Concert - Buddy System - Ballroom
2 - 4 PM                Final Contra dance

4 PM                     Clean Up and Good byes

The complete schedule including workshops is available as a PDF download, click the '2018 Schedule' button in the navigation bar to the left.

Be sure to check the schedules posted in the hall for last minute changes.



Band Jam with Russ Healy  10:00 – 11:00 AM  
Sahuaro Room.  Followed by informal jamming during the day.
The primary goal of the jam will be for everyone to have fun and have the opportunity to play tunes they know and like.  All levels of musicianship and instruments are welcome but this will be an 'intermediate' jam - neither slow nor fast, keeping the tempo roughly at dance speed or slower to accommodate all levels of musicians. BRING YOUR INSTRUMENTS AND COME AND JAM!             

   See below for more info including the tune list.
   Open jam sessions may occur throughout the weekend.

Timingtopia with Rick Mohr, 10:00 - 11:00, Ballroom 
We'll tune in to the musical framework underpinning all contra dances use our sharpened awareness to ace some fine dances with timing challenges, and enjoy heightened synergy with the musicians and other dancers.

Piano Workshop with Jeff Spiro,  Saturday 11:00 - Noon, Navajo Room
More than just boom-chuck: Learn how to accompany lead instruments with different techniques for both rhythm and color.  We’ll cover how to play reels and jigs (maybe even waltzes, too!) for dances that go from smooth and flowing to fast and rocking!

Contradance Fiddle with Rodney Miller,  Saturday 11:00 - Noon, Hopi Room
Breaking down the key elements, style and technique, of playing dance music.

Mandolin Workshop with TJ Crow,  Saturday 11:00 - Noon, Aztec Room
All levels welcome. We’ll play and talk and give tips on chords and scales and how to use the mando to enhance the music and the dancing.


Sound Workshop with Victor Garza,  2:00 - 2:30 PM, Ballroom
After reviewing some of the basics the focus will be on:
1.  Review of how to do a quick sound check when pressed for time
2.  Getting started on the first dance-  getting the caller on top of the mix
3.  Volume - adjusting to ever changing conditions
4.  Other issues people might have about sound

Blurring the Lines with Seth Tepfer,  2:00 - 3:00 PM, Ballroom
Dancers get very attached to a set role in a dance. This playshop challenges normal assumptions about a dance. We mix up the gender role, we change places in line, we cross between the lines. This not only gives dancers permission to break the rules, it gives them an opportunities to learning about dancing from outside their usual modes.

Rhythm Players Workshop with Buddy System, Saturday 2:00 - 3:00, Hopi Room
We'll break down what makes rock-solid contra rhythm, explore ways to support the phrasing and energy of the dance, talk about different kinds of grooves, and play with textural ideas.  For any rhythm instruments, and melody players too.

Magic Moments with Seth Tepfer,  3:00 - 4:00 PM, Ballroom
A playshop celebrating those moments in a dance where you go "ahhhh!" Magic moments - flowing from one swing into the next; going from a circle into a circle. focusing on those moments in the dance where it all comes together.

Band Dynamics with Buddy System, Saturday 3:00 - 4:00, Hopi Room
How do good bands sound so tight?  This band "boot camp" can explore things like how to improvise together, tips for listening better, being in the moment, locking in with groove and tempo, honing your musical ideas, communicating verbally and musically, musical roles, and more. Bring your questions.  You don't have to be in a band to get something from this workshop. 


Theme- Mohr Contras with Rick Mohr, 
10:00 - 11:00, Ballroom
Many of Rick's contras are coast-to-coast favorites, and some of tomorrow's hits may be lurking in the card box. Enjoy new gems plus classic keepers from 25 years of dance composing.

Old-Time Country Group Sing with Warren Miller 
10:00 – 11:00, Saguaro room 
In the firm conviction that group singing is a spiritual practice, Warren Miller invites all to gather Sunday morning for a theology-free gospel sing. We will start with a set of great old-time country gospel songs, loosely defined, and carry on from there. Bring songs, enthusiastic voices, spontaneous harmonies, and instruments.

Ukulele Workshop with Jacqui Grennan  12:20 – 1:30 PM
Beginning Ukulele Play-along - Learn some chords and how to strum and you’ll be playing and singing in no time! Bring a ukulele and tuner if you have them. If you don’t have a ukulele, join us for a sing-along!  For more info on Jacqui's ukulele workshops: 

A message from Russ Healy on the Jam Session:

FFriends, I've been asked to lead the Band Jam from 10:00-11:00 AM on Saturday.  I hope the primary goal of the jam will be for everyone to have fun and have the opportunity to play tunes they know and like.  I have compiled a list of contra tunes that I've heard frequently in Tucson and elsewhere, from various genres, to guide us.  That does not mean we have to stick to the list, but it could be a starting point as we select tunes.  Perhaps we could proceed clockwise in a circle with participants either choosing a tune or passing, so that everyone, I hope, will have a chance to play tunes they like and are familiar with.  If we have banjo players present, we might want to stay in one key for a while before switching. I'd also suggest we try to keep the tempo roughly at dance speed or slower to accommodate all levels of musicians. However, I would not want to be inflexible about any of these ideas.  We can see what the spirit of the session suggests as well.  I hope many of you will bring your instruments and come play!

Old-Time Tunes
Johnny, Johnny, Don’t Get Drunk D
Buck Mountain D
Seneca Square Dance (aka Waiting for the Federals, Shelby’s Mule) G
Colored Aristocracy G
Nixon’s Farewell D
Goodbye Liza Jane D
St. Anne’s Reel D
Angeline the Baker D
Julianne Johnson D
Speed the Plough A
Cold Frosty Morning A mix
Home With the Girls in the Morning Dm
Sandy Boys A
June Apple A mixolydian
Kitchen Gal A mix
Waterbound (aka Stay All Night)

Irish Reels
Maid Behind the Bar D
Silver Spear D
Banshee G
Miss Monahan’s D
John Stenson’s #2 A
Congress Am
Red-Haired Boy A mix
Wind That Shakes the Barley D
The Mason’s Apron A

Irish Jigs
Kesh G
Morrison’s D
Cliffs of Moher Am
I Lost My Love Am
Tobin’s Favorite D

Quebecois/Cape Breton
Dedicado a Joe (Viva el West Side) Bm
St. Antoine’s A
Reel de Montreal G
Homage a Edmund Parizeau (aka Fromage a Edmund Parizeau) A
Glise de Sherbrooke G
Cheticamp G

Various Polkas
Purple Lilies D
Sean Ryan’s D
Waves of Tory (aka Cheese) D
Ballydesmonds 1 and 2 Am

Amelia’s D
Midnight on the Water D
Ashoken Farewell D
Josefin’s G
Planxty Irwin D

old schedule - from 2015

Below is info from May Madness 2015.  Check back 1 - 2 months before the weekend for info for May Madness 2016.   


The weekend starts with a concert in the square about 3 blocks from the hall, featuring Great Bear Trio from 6 - 7 PM.   The Friday evening dance starts at 7:30 PM Friday, with dancing and workshops Saturday and Sunday.  The final Sunday afternoon dance ends at 3:30 PM.  The complete schedule including workshops is available here:

Be sure to check the schedules posted in the hall for any last minute changes.


English Country Dance with Michael Barraclough and Contra Sutra

Jane Austen did it.  George Washington did it.  So can you!  ECD is the predecessor of Irish, Scottish, square and contra dances. Of all these, English has the greatest variety of shapes, figures, moods and music with the pace varying from slow and elegant to lively and vigorous.  Come and spend an hour or so dancing wonderful dances to outstanding music and get rid of any pre-conceived idea that ECD is slow, or boring or ploddy. 

“Flat Footing” with Becca Molaro

Flat-footing with Becca Molaro - Come make music with your feet! Learn the basics of Appalachian Flat-foot Dancing, a solo freestyle form of American dance. This style of dance invites you to become part of the music by using your feet and body as a percussive instrument to echo the rhythms of banjo and fiddle tunes. Becca Molaro has been wowing audiences and winning flat-foot dance contests since she was 4 years old. If possible, wear comfortable hard soled shoes for this class. Everyone, every level are welcome.

Percussive Movement with Russell Shumsky

Clapping, stepping and slapping will be used to create rhythmic puzzles that will delight and challenge your rhythmic sensibilities and physical co-ordination. Be prepared for a fun and focused workshop. No musical instruments are needed. This workshop is for ALL DANCERS interested in rhythm. Limited to 30 people.

Joke Swap/Workshop Charlie Adams and Duf

Participants are encouraged to tell jokes or just come to listen. All reactions are welcome, from a belly laugh, titter, and giggle to a groan, snort and sound effects (“ba-dum-bum”). Learn ways to improve your joke-telling. These include: 1-how to remember jokes, 2- how to obtain jokes, 3- how to tell jokes, 4- categories of jokes, 5-what, or to whom, not to tell, 6- where you can tell (everywhere).

Dutch Crossing with Sarah VanNorstrand

Dutch Crossing is an intricate dance for 8 couples or 16 people. It was written by a Dutch dancer in the 90's and it has enticed Contra and English dancers with its fascinating choreography and sense of challenge. The actual figures in the dance are basic and familiar, but the complexity comes from the 4 different orientations in which it is danced. Dutch Crossing takes about an hour to teach and dance, but when you and your team of fellow dancers are successful in getting through the dance, the feeling is exhilarating! 

A conversation about musical mechanics of country music with Andrew VanNorstrand

The workshop includes singing, listening and conversation about the "hidden" musical mechanics of country music. 

Contra Fiddle groove, fun, and bending tradition  with Ryan McKasson

Anything goes in this workshop on dance fiddle!


Sunday Morning Singing with Warren Miller

Join Warren Miller for this May Madness tradition, a group sing of eminently sing-able songs that invite spontaneous harmonies. Lyrics will be provided or bring your own favorites. It’s a great way to warm into your day.

Scandinavian pivot dances with Erik Erhardt

Explore the duple- and quadruple-time dances of Schottische, Norwegian Polka, and Snoa, all with variations to lively music by Rhonda Hotop.

Guitar Exploration with Dave Bartley

If you play guitar, you won’t want to miss this one! Expand your universe of guitar backup ideas, rhythms and techniques.  Bring riffs from music past and present, from several continents, to bear to dress up the music, and propel and excite dancers. Learn about interesting guitar backup rhythms. BYOG (bring your own guitar). Participants with at least some experience with guitar are encouraged to attend.