Advanced Search | Search A!:
Volume 26, Number 2 — February 2019

Advice from Developer of Dancing Contras DVD

This 30-minute video offers an introduction to contra dancing.
This 30-minute video offers an introduction to contra dancing.

Start With 'the One Who Brung You' and Be Sure to Dance With Everyone

April 28, 2009

Henry and Jacqui Morgenstein from Traverse City, Michigan, developed an instructional DVD entitled Dancing Contras,* and many of Henry's essays on dance have been published in dance magazines.

Following are excerpts from some of Henry's essays, reprinted with permission:

• "At all other dances [such as ballroom dancing] you have to choose the steps you will use in the dance. At a contra dance, somebody else has figured out the whole sequence from A to Z."

• "If you can walk, you can contra dance....contra dancing is fast walking — and every dance is 'the same' — you walk through a series of moves that take 64 beats from start to finish and then the sequence repeats and repeats....A contra dance consists of moves like circle left or down the hall four in line, or do-si-do....There is one move that, strictly speaking, is not walking, and that is swinging...."

Morgenstein once taught a class in contra dancing that he called "Temporary Marriages." "At a contra dance, you dance with many different partners. It is polite to dance the first dance of the evening with 'the one you brung,' but after that, what is polite in the contra dance community is to dance with everybody else who is at this dance — whether you've met them before or not," he says. "In contra dances, you are temporarily married to this partner — for this dance and no more — and then the caller says: 'Please thank this partner and find another.' Serial monogamy. Be faithful, attentive, loving. Make close eye contact. But this is not forever....[In four hours of contra dancing] I will come in very close contact with 20-50 different women. Now that's my kind of dancing — perhaps the quintessential form of modern dancing — up close and personal, but very, very, temporary."

* Dancing Contras is a 30-minute video introduction to contra dancing that explains the structure and teaches the basic moves. For more information, visit or e-mail

Contra Dance Videos


— BACK TO THE MAIN STORY: Contra Dancing: There's a Gypsy in All of Us

Topics: Dance, Family, Film