Book 'em Doog-o.

Have you seen this schedule? It's your birthday every Thursday for the next year.

Folks, it's happening. I know, I know - it's soooooo exciting. (!!!) But, seriously - take a deep breath and peek at who PICD is putting on the roster through December. 

!!!, right?

Wait - what's that? You don't recognize some of the names? Well, that's cool. Let me tell you why:

Two important elements of our mission at PICD are to nurture emerging talent and contribute to the ongoing, vibrant, lived tradition of contra dance in Maine and New England. So, as we're booking talent, we have two ideas in mind:

1) We want to be a place where talent develops.

2) We want to be a place where exciting performances occur.

As we held our hand to our brow and took a wide view of the contra dance horizon in Maine, we realized more callers are needed for the coming decades. So, several months ago, Dugan Murphy and I hosted some Calling 101 classes in our home in Portland. Over twenty five interested folks from Maine and Massachusetts came to the really cozy bootcamps and walked away knowing the basics. Dugan is currently working with a handful of these new callers (including me!), providing the mentoring needed to blossom.

Now, in the Midwest, there's a really generous and lovely tradition of hosting open calling after dance weekends. This, I've learned from cutting my teeth at Jan Jam this past January, is the BEST environment in which to learn how to call. All of the dancers are experienced, they're all really comfortable with each other from dancing together all weekend, and they're tired as all get out. The pick-up band of experienced musicians is just as tired, and, hence, generous, too. New Midwestern callers can go to dance weekends every few weeks and practice, practice, practice.

In New England, we have no such opportunity.* The neatest thing New England has going is the Mad Robin Callers Collective in Vermont, which is a community of callers who host monthly dances and training opportunities for budding and experienced callers alike. You might have noticed that Vermont's more than a stone-throw away, so in Maine new callers have limited options. They can possibly be booked for small community dances, faraway dances, or house dances, but it means they're calling a whole evening without a mentor or a net, and with no appreciative feedback.

 
Image of Sassafras Stomp taken at PICD April 21.

Image of Sassafras Stomp taken at PICD April 21.

 

Enter PICD. We're going to be a space for these emerging Maine callers to perform and get the practice they need. We're really proud and happy to book them, and to give them the safe, loving environment that nourishes their growth. These callers will receive ongoing feedback and will have an experienced caller with them to help them learn in real-time. Our hope is that PICD's culture and willingness to be a resource will accelerate these performer's growth and they'll join the community of awesome, high quality callers we'll all appreciate for decades to come.

As for musicians, we're excited to be booking a cross-section of emerging bands (like Catastrophe and Chimney Swift), new collaborations (like Drive Train), and damn talented well-knowns (like Pete's Posse). This mix of talent will contribute to a lively, unexpected, and exciting series. And, as PICD grows, we hope to be able to provide mentoring opportunities for emerging musicians, as well. In fact, we've applied for a grant from the Maine Arts Commission to host a mentoring program and we've been walking around with crossed-toes and -fingers as we're waiting to hear. We'll keep you in the loop on that one.

So, resume your excitement, tape up your dance shoes, and get your ten-dollar-bills ready, folks. The enchantment - and the profound contribution you'll all make to the contra community here in Maine - starts June 16.

 

*For now: PICD plans to host a Midwestern-style dance weekend in the coming years, but that's another topic for another blog post... "Later," she said, rubbing her hands together and hoisting up her eyebrows absurdly in anticipation.

Dela Taylor

Dela Taylor, PO Box 784, Portland, Maine 04104, USA