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The Nice Combination

by Gene Hubert

Original text: "One could argue that this dance needs no review. And I will, at least till I have time to expand upon this entry. Stay tuned."

After over five years of broken promises, here's my review:

This is one of the most commonly called contra dances, with good reason. Each figure makes natural sense from the previous one, without glitches or flaws. Good flow is its middle name. (And first, and last.)


Yet the dancers seem to ignore all that. [1] Why?

Thanks to constant exposure to these specific transition challenges, we've learned how to tweak and smooth them out. The contra community has adjusted to make this choreography work, with small momentum/body positions shifts and anticipations. For many, these have become instinctive, like the men assisting the women forward into the chain.

Consider the following B2 from "Sweet Music":

B2 Right and left through
   Men roll away partner
   Star right 3/4

This has major hand change issues from courtesy turn to roll to star right. And the timing's fuzzy. But in a community regularly exposed to this fragment, they would learn to adjust.

This only works with sequences that are done regularly. And some sequences are easier to work through than others. [2] "The Nice Combination" is only a nice combination because we say it is.

Instructions for this dance can be found here.
A video of this dance can be found here or here.
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[1] Not exactly. Try calling it and watching the brand-new male dancers, and seeing which way they face out of the B2 star.

[2] For instance, swing one neighbor on the side, then next neighbor allemande left. If the swing ends early and the women do an assisted free clockwise spin out of the swing, it can work. But that's a lot of adjusting for a dance that could just be rewritten.