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Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Discussion: orienteering dancing crossovers

in: ernst; ernst > 2019-01-25

Jan 27, 2019 8:57 AM # 
It was great to see you and Nancy last night at the dance too!

I think the number of orienteering / contra dance crossover people (last night I counted you, me, and Peter, more if you count Betsy and Nancy) is greater than would be expected by chance (but I haven't statistically analyzed it!) and it seems to me that there is indeed some overlap in the types of personalities both activities attract.

Both seem to attract more people from the geek end of the spectrum than from the cool-kid end. O attracts runners who have the analytical ability to enable them to navigate better than some of the more athletic, faster folks. (Then there are outliers like yourself: good at the analytical navigation part, *and* actually fast.) CD attracts people who were two left feet when they tried to learn fancy schmantzy steps at ballroom or Latin dance classes, but whose minds can easily absorb the complicated patterns of contra dancing.

Anyway I had a fine time at the dance, too, even if occasionally feeling a bit frustrated at not being allowed (yet) to actually dance much to the fine music. Perhaps you heard that the great band, Tempest, was in town from their Ithaca NY home because of today's (Saturday's) Snow Ball in Peterborough. And yes Dugan Murphy is a *great* caller for just the reasons you mentioned: ability to economically and clearly communicate the essence of the dance, with some nice sparkle and wit to his personality.

B and I have seen more than a few callers who overexplain; in one particular extreme case, the walkthrough took longer than the dance! The good callers like Dugan have an ability to read the dancers on the floor and adapt on the fly to give just enough info but not too much. They know that trying to teach the dance to 100% of the dancers will never lead to an enjoyable evening, they aim to reach maybe 80%. Of the remaining 20%, half (generally, the beginners) may feel a little stressed at first due to not quite getting it, until they soon learn that 3/4 of the battle is just paying attention to the more experienced dancers who are reaching a helpful hand in their direction; and the other half (we call them the perpetual beginners) are people who will not get it no matter how much you explain it. They will just get towed/nudged along and it will mostly work (once in while, a concentration of perpetual beginners in a particular part of the floor may cause the whole set to break down, but not very often).

There are certainly forms of dancing for those who are too impatient to accommodate those of lesser (or greater) dance skill around them--modern western square dancing comes to mind, some of our friends prefer it, you can't go on to level 2 until you've spent months mastering level 1 etc. But Betsy and I find the contra dance atmosphere of all types being together in the room much more fun--it's delightful to have beginners and experts, teenagers and seniors, out-of-shape folks who sit out 2 out of 3 dances and fit athletic types who twirl up a storm, all united by the calling and music into at least an approximation of a whole roomful of people performing as a coordinated team without any great physical or mental effort needing to be put into it.

To see more of Dugan, visit the Portland, Maine, dance (almost every Thursday). Or for an extra dose, as Dugan mentioned, there is a triple-session dance the first weekend in May in Portland, I hope it doesn't conflict with anything significant in O.

Like you I log the dancing, in part because it does have some training value, although more especially for the people who are not particularly active, it isn't quite as significant for people like you and I who run and hike etc. But another reason is that my AttackPoint log is becoming a bit of a diary for me, it's fun to record the day's and week's and year's pleasurable activities, for my own memories and for sharing with friends.

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