San Diego AOSA Post Workshop Notes



San Diego Chapter of AOSA
Peter & Mary Alice lead
Creating a Dynamic Learning Community with Traditional Dance, Song & Storytelling
Saturday, September 12, 2015 • 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Skyline School, 606 Lomas Santa Fe, Solana Beach, CA

Kudos and thanks to Marcy Romney for: thoughtful and thorough pre-planning of the visit, taking great care of us from landing to take-off (dinners with her husband Rick, delivering us to a beautiful Solana Beach beach right after the workshop), setting exactly the right tone for the workshop, and more.  Thanks to Lenore Johnson for the sound system, Suzy Aaberg for a stellar job helping us with sales, many more folks helping to organize, publicize, set up and strike the workshop, and for the 90! enthusiastic music teachers from San Diego, Los Angeles, Los Vegas and elsewhere that made the workshop a peak experience for Mary Alice and me.

First some announcements, then the notes:

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Sign up on our email mailing list for approximately once-monthly notices about upcoming Amidon workshops and publications.  Just go to the Amidon website and sign up on the homepage:

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MEET OUR BOYS & their ladies:

Stefan Singing (with the family last New Year’s Eve)

Stefan on percussion/vocals and his wife (red head) Zara Bode with their band the Sweetback Sisters

Sam singing

Sam fiddling

Sam’s wife Beth Orton 

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 Go to your own local dances; they are fun, welcoming, aerobic, and it will make you a better dance teacher:

San Diego contradances

San Diego English country dances

Los Angeles contra & English country dances

Las Vegas contra & English country dancesas Vegas contra & English country dances

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Comment ça va in “Sashay the Donut
For music we used “Martin O’Connor” from “Other Side of the Tracks“.
The key figure in this dance (that shows up again in “Simple Square” which we did later) is the B1/B2 part of the dance: Allemand left corner/dosido partner/allemand left corner, promenade partner.  One of the best ways to help dancers negotiate this is, once you have established who is their partner and corner, have dancers allemand left corner WHILE LOOKING FOR THEIR PARTNER and dosido their partner while looking for their corner, allemand left corner again while looking for partner and then “shake and take” partner (shake right hand and take left hand) to get in position for the promenade.
We also worked on making a circle from a promenade: “Hang on to your partner, stop walking.  Hang on to your partner, face the center. Drop your hands. Take hands (in a circle).

Sun is in My Heart
A Little Seed
Both of these are in in the handouts, and in NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD.  Both are calming chants that we use as much to center ourselves as the children.

Shut the Gates – Mary Alice learned this from Kathy Reid Naiman in a workshop for teachers who work with young children.

Tree Song – in NEDM’s “Down in the Valley“.  I introduced this with a story about Roger.  It is basically the same family: Roger, Mary, their thirteen children, their youngest daughter who then marries and lives with Roger and Mary and has Eliza.  I use this same family for the storytelling introductions to “Chiney Doll” and “When I First Came to This Land”.   You can order the music (unison/piano) for your younger children’s choir from our Amidon Online Choral Sheet Music Download Store.

Form the Corn – In NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD. A great no-formation dance for any age, any situation.

Here We Go Riding our Ponies – In NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD. Children practice handshakes and eye contact in this instantly engaging singing game.

Traffic Jam learned from John Krumm
Use “Heel & Toe Polka” for music from “Chimes of Dunkirk” CD.
This is a terrific “scatter mixer” for any age; particularly for older students who do not have much dance experience.
Level One
Formation: dancers scattered across floor
Music: ABAB tune (or AABB, but dance sequence will go twice through an AABB tune)A: (All just walking single in random directions) Step, step, step, step,
clap clap clap, stamp stamp stamp
Walk in different direction, Step, step,  step,
clap clap clap,  stamp stamp stamp
(Clapping is clapping own hands together.  Stamping is with one foot.)B: 8 sashays (alone) sideways in one direction
Then 8 sashays back in the other direction.
Level Two
Formation: couples scattered across floor
A: Partners standing side by side holding partner’s handy hand.
Walk four steps in one direction. Then partners face each other and clap (both hands) each other’s hands:
clap clap clap, stamp stamp stamp.
Repeat, walking in opposite direction
B: Partners take two hands with each other, and sashay 8 beats in one direction, and 8 beats in the opposite direction.
Level Three
Formation: couples scattered across floorA: Partners standing side by side holding partner’s handy hand, walk four steps in one direction. Then partners face each other and clap (both hands) each other’s hands: clap clap clap, then stamp stamp stamp.
Repeat, walking in opposite direction
B: Partners take two hands with each other, and sashay 8 beats in one direction, then LEAVE PARTNER AND QUICKLY FIND A NEW PARTNER and sashay in another direction with new partner.
Repeat, starting with this new partner

Old Bald Eagle Square – In NEDM’s Sashay the Donut collection.
Andy Davis’s brilliant version of ‘Old Bald Eagle’ is the simplest square we know: a great first square dance for young children.  Try it with the Sashay the Donut CD to Andy’s calls.

Simple Square – in NEDM’s Chimes of Dunkirk collection.
This square is not quite so simple.  We recommend first dancing “Comment ça va” (which was the first dance we did in the workshop – see above) so the students can learn the corner allemande left, partner dosido, corner- allemende left again, promenade partner sequence of figures.  It can be wonderful for an evening  multi-age community dance, especially if your students have done the dance before.

Exclamation Point
Mother Earth

– just talked about this.
First Strawberries



Brotherhood/Sisterhood – in Song in My Heart book and CD.

Humpty Dump – A great way to teach older children the classic nursery rhymes.  After a child suggests a nursery rhyme, have the whole class recite it all the way through before putting it into the song.

I’m Growing Up – in Song in My Heart book and CD.
Mary Alice had everyone stand up and follow her in a dance to the recording of this song.

Noble Duke of York – in NEDM’s “Rise Sally Rise” (formerly “Jump Jim Joe“) Also NEDM’s “Alabama Gal” book/CD/DVD.
I added the up, down halfway up and jumping movements that the rest of the dancers do while the top couple sashays down the middle and back.  My favorite moment is when the top couple’s sashay back up the middle turns into a skipping cast off just as the other dancers land from their jump and, skipping, follow the lead couple in the cast off.  We were inspired to teach skipping as an art form by watching the wonderful Mark Morris Dance Company.  If you have the older “Jump Jim Joe” CD but would like the updated mp3 of the music we used in the workshop (which is only on the “Alabama Gal” book/CD/DVD and “Rise Sally Rise” CD) send me an email and I will send you the mp3: <>

Larry’s Mixer – in NEDM’s “Listen to the Mockingbird” collection.
We used the cut Cheris” from NEDM’s Other Side of the TracksCD, which is the band “Assembly”, a quartet that includes  our two sons Sam (fiddle) and Stefan (percussion). Also try doing this to “The Coming Dawn” from the same CD, or try “Golden Keyboard” from NEDM’s “Any Jig or Reel” CD.  All of these are flowing music, and I find that this dance can have a sublime “Historic English County Dance” feel (think Jane Austen) when done to those cuts of elegant music.

Choosing partners
We think it is a real gift to children to teach them  how to choose their own partners.  I like to frame this in ‘Kings’ and ‘Queens’ language to help the children get over their self consciousness over  choosing partners. I start with a story about how Kings and Queens realized that it might be more fun to dance with more than just their own spouses, and so they needed to devise a polite and efficient way to choose other partners.  “And the method they came up with was so good we still do it today.” I have them all practice the words: ‘May I please  have this dance?’ ‘Yes thank you.’ and then practice answering me, and then practice  asking me.  Then I demonstrate what it looks like to ask a partner to dance, by asking one of the ‘Queens’.  Then, I have that Queen sit down, and I ask her again, showing the 10 steps: The approach. Eye contact. The question. The answer. King puts out his hand. Queen stands and takes King’s hand. They hang on to each other’s hand and walk to the top of the hall.  If there are  two Queens then there is a Queen on one side and a Queen on the other side.  If there are two Kings (you know the rest). If it is a King and a Queen, the King stands on the King’s side, the Queen on the Queen’s side and they face each other, nose, toes and bellybutton, taking two hands. Then they drop their hands, and, voila, there they are.

Kings & Queens – in NEDM’s “Sashay the Donut” collection.
We used ‘On the Danforth’ from NEDM’s ‘Other Side of the Tracks’ CD for this dance.  You might also use our other version of ‘On the Danforth’ which is on our ‘Sashay  the Donut’ CD. Before we teach this dance we will dub each child a King or a Queen, and talk to them (sometimes while the music is playing to help sustain the mood) about what it means to be a King and Queen: They have royal posture, they never rush, they make good decisions, they are very attractive; basically describing the ideal King/Queen or, which, in my mind is being the very best person they can be.  Then I “dub” each child a  king or a queen, making sure they have their royal posture before I dub them. This is in the style of an historic English country dance (e.g. dances done in Jane Austen’s time).
Formation: Longways set, 7-10 couples.
A1 (16)All forward and back. (8)
Right hand turn with partner (palm to palm). (8)
A2 (16)Left hand turn with partner (palm to palm). (8)
Gypsy partner (walk CW around partner while facing each other and maintaining eye contact). (8)
B1 (16)Top couple sashay down center and back to top. (16)
B2 (16)Top couple face down, holding partner’s handy hand, and walk down the center to bottom.  Other dancers bow to active couple as they pass by.  All move up one step and take hands along line to prepare for the next time through the dance.


      From the Seed in the Ground
– piano/SSAA version, my arrangement of the great Connie Kaldor song.
You can purchase the whole piano/SSAA score on our Online Choral Store.  You could have an elementary school chorus or class sing the whole song in unison to the piano accompaniment of this arrangement.

We All Went On Safari
Johnny Appleseed
Marion Anderson


      Parting Glass
 – This is one of many of our choral arrangements and compositions available in our Online Choral Store, “Twenty-five Anthems for Interfaith & Community Choirs” and “Fifty-five Anthems for the Small Church Choir

Nyangara – traditional Zimbabwe folktale

Act out folktale – see p. 18 of the handout.

Solana Beach Gypsy Sandpiper – original dance by the 9/12/15 San Diego AOSA Workshop Participants.
I love how the stamping and clapping temporarily stops all the dancers, and how they then all flow into the partner dosido. * I love how the gypsy flows out of the grand right and left. * And I love/love (love squared) how the gypsy flows into the opening circle left of the dance.  *  I love the name.  I let this dance go on for a while, it was so fun to do; congratulations!
Formation: Circle mixer
A1 – Circle left and circle right.
A2 – Forward and back (8)
Stamp, stamp, stamp – Clap, clap, clap (8)
B1 – Dosido partner, Seesaw neighbor (corner) (8)
B2 – Grand right and left four changes (8)
Gypsy the next person.  Gypsy flows into the circle left figure that starts the next time through the dance.

Circle Waltz Mixer – in NEDM’s Sashay the Donut” collection.
We used ‘In Continental’ Waltz from the ‘Sashay’ CD  for the music. This is a wonderful dance for a wedding  where you can do it the original way we learned it, doing  a short waltz instead of the two hand turn.  It is helpful to have boys be “rocks” and girls be “twirlers” (or vice versa) to help keep track of who are the rocks and twirlers.  Here are some tips to for teaching this dance: Start by having everyone promenade. Tell all the inside (left hand) partners they are “rocks” and all the outside (right hand) partners they are “twirlers”. All look at partner and say “goodbye”. Rocks stay in place and keep their feet planted during the “twirl” figure. Carefully teach the first “twirl” each “Rock” does with their left hand neighbor, from left to right. Once the dancers get that twirl, the rest of the dance can go pretty smoothly.


Thanks again for your enthusiastic and dynamic participation; Mary Alice and I had a most wonderful day.


Peter (and Mary Alice) Amidon