Katie and I were lucky enough to be able to interview Casey Mullaney. She has been going to Contra Dances since she was a little girl and loved it so much that she got into calling. Throughout our interview, Katie and I asked Casey a variety of questions pertaining to Contra Dance and being a caller. Below is an excerpt from our 45 minute interview.
Katie: As a caller would you consider yourself to be singing?
Casey: No, there are some people who do, especially in the square dancing tradition, but what I do is not that.
Katie: Also we were at the band rehearsal this Sunday so that Rachel could get some kind of a field work experience, and Kate said that from her perspective, from having been a caller before, that one of the purposes of calling is that eventually you will not have to call the dance anymore.
Katie: Do you agree with that?
Casey: Definitely, I think your purpose is to teach as well as you can and then shut up and get out.
Casey: As a dancer I would rather listen to the band than the caller and as the caller I would rather just be effective in the beginning and then let them go.
Casey: I think also dancers, especially new dancers, want you to keep calling all the way through, but it inhibits the experience for them. So, I prefer to teach and get out of there as quick as I can.
Katie: I asked Kate this as well if they consider calling singing and it was an immediate no for both of you, is there something about it that seems inherently against it being singing, or is it just like that you feel that it is not singing?
Casey: I’ve heard Kate call before too, she would probably have a similar feeling on this, but I like to have like a fairly rhythmic style of doing things. You’re trying to emphasize your constants and vowels in such a way that it snaps and then you don’t need to say as much, but no you shouldn’t be this obnoxious intrusion on top of the music.
Casey: And I do know people who do sing and manage to not do that, but again that’s something that is often coming up in the square dance tradition. Because I’m not part of a band, I don’t want to infringe on their space in the evening.