Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Thanks for stopping by.  Welcome to the online home of the Mad Robin Callers Collective, newly formed in Burlington, Vermont this autumn, 2009.  This extraordinary group of contra dance callers was formed with several goals in mind:

1. Collaboration: Each one of us comes to the caller's mic with different backgrounds and experience; together we've found strength in numbers.  By pooling the wealth of information and ideas among us we find ourselves growing by leaps and bounds. 

2. Structure: We meet every first and third Friday evening of the month.  After tucking in for what thus far has been a fail-proof potluck supper, we get down to business.  Meetings are an open forum for discussing calling techniques, swapping success stories, revisiting and learning from our mistakes.  Perhaps most importantly though, meetings are a chance for us to practice calling!  Even crammed in a tiny living room with one or two "ghost partners," calling to live dancers is invaluable.  This is our chance to receive feedback, catch mistakes before they happen and feel the support of our fellow callers so that when we are lucky enough to take to the stage, we're ready to be the best we can be.  Doing this regularly inspires us to work on our calling individually between meetings so that we always have something new to bring to the group.

3. Gigs!: We love our potlucks, but we all joined the collective with aspirations of calling in our local (and not so local!) dance community, with more than an Ipod docking station behind us.  As a new caller, carrying a full evening can be intimidating, not to mention exhausting.  We've found that calling dances as a group is a great way to meet this challenge.  It's also fantastically fun!  Standing at the mic, you know you have help on the dance floor: the Mad Robins are out there, guarding the flock and cheering you on.

The Mad Robin Callers Collective held its founding meeting on September 3, 2009.  In just over a month, (three meetings later), we have already called one full scheduled dance, and also managed to call an evening on the fly when the hired caller was down with food poisoning.  We have three more gigs lined up this October and November.  Dance organizers in our area have been incredibly supportive and we are so proud to be strengthening our dance community.

This blog is not a pitch for you to come to our gigs (although we would love to see you there!).  We want you to spread the word.  We want you to join us.  This is a success story, and it can be easily replicated.  Most of us Mad Robins have been dancing together for years, it just took a few potlucks for us to realize that we have always had the support to do this.  The support is there in your community too, and we want to help you find it. 

If you live in the Burlington, VT area and want to be a Mad Robin, join us!  The more the merrier.  With no experience, or years of it, we want you!  If you don't live nearby, why don't you start your own Mad Robin chapter?  Seriously, why don't you?  We'll even let you use our logo (isn't it great?  Our friend Eliza West drew it), and share our potluck recipes.  If you want to start a callers group, we're here for you.  All our contact information is on this blog.

Stay tuned for more stories, discussions on calling, reports on our culinary adventures and gig info.  Need anything else?  Just let us know.

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