David Smukler


Contras, squares, mixers

David Smukler - Photo by Michael Toomey

Photo by M. Toomey

David Smukler has been dancing since the mid-1960s, and calling for dances since 1981. Most of the calling he does is in New York State, but he sometimes travels a bit farther afield to call as well.

David says, "Being a caller is a great opportunity to facilitate other people's fun while having lots of fun myself." He calls for family dances and school programs, regular evenings of contras and squares, English Country Dances, and special events. He also has prepared a variety of workshops on dance related topics that he enjoys offering. His taste in dances is eclectic, and he loves to present a wide variety of dances when he calls. His repertoire includes plenty of New England contras, as well as an assortment of squares, singing calls, mixers, old chestnuts, and freshly minted dances.

A musician as well as a caller, David works at integrating his calling with the music. Give him a guitar and he can be both caller and band for a singing square dance! He is part of various bands, including his family's band, Three Wheel Drive ("the tricycle of contra dance bands"), and a band called Hearts Delight. He's also an accompanist for the English Country dance ensembles Four Hands Round and Two Laurels.

Members of his family are involved with dance and music as well. His wife plays beautiful whistle music. His oldest son plays a variety of instruments. The next one is a fine dancer, singer and composer of dances and his youngest plays electric guitar. They are all now -- or have been at one time or another -- Bassett Street Hounds (the Hounds are Syracuse's finest -- and only -- border Morris team).

David is occassionally on staff or volunteering at various dance weekends and camps. He has also worked for several years now on a syllabus for the Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend. Hard copies of this record of all the dancing that takes place at the weekend are available through the New England Folk Festival Association (NEFFA). Electronic versions can be found on the Internet at the University of New Hampshire's Dimond Library. His master index of all the syllabi created since 1988 is also at the UNH website.

While thinking about a "Ted Sannella Retrospective" session that was being planned for the 2006 Ralph Page weekend, he created an index of all of Ted's published dances. It is in a Microsoft Excel file, and he offers it as a small gift to others who appreciate (as he does) Ted's rich contribution to contra dance choreography.

David's work as an organizer with the Syracuse Country Dancers has involved him in a variety of fascinating projects over the years, including working on the Phylla Mae Fall Fest and organizing and helping to coordinate special callers gatherings. He was one of the three original organizers of the triple Ted's Triplet Marathon that took place in March of 2002. In March of 2004 they had a similarly exciting callers' gathering in Syracuse called "Cracking Chestnuts," that led eventually to the publication of his book by the same name. The book offers his take on such wonderful dances as Hull's Victory, British Sorrow, and Rory O'More.

David enjoys tinkering with dance sequences. Because he likes dances of many different styles, his compositions are fairly eclectic in character. He also composed a tune, Molecular Structure, for a delightful dance called Professor Kekule's Reverie.

Dances David has taught include Another Part of the Island, Balance the Star, Banjo's Mistress, Barnacle Waltz, Beck and Call, Bill Bailey Won't You Please Come Home, Bride's a Bonny Thing, Christmas Hornpipe, Corner Triplet, Country Dance Romance, David's Triplet #1, David's Triplet #3, David's Triplet #4, David's Triplet #5, David's Triplet #6, David's Triplet #7, Delicate Balance, Driving to Olean, Easy Quadrille Variation, England and Simplicity, Fairfield Connection, Fall Back, Forsythia, Frog in the Wall, Gents Give - Ladies Take, Going Dutch, Green Mountain Petronella, Hello Rose, Hurdle Help, Kathy's Smile, Lady Be Good, Maid Marian's Fancy, Meadowbrook Contra, More or Less, Never Ending Love, Newfangled Contraption 2, Nova Nova Scotian, Oyster Sundae, Perfectly Simple, Pining for You, Pleasantry Surprised, Ringtones, Riverbed, Role Away, Ross's Reel, Sam's March, Sheehan's Too, Showers of May, Skaneateles, Spring Forward, Stopping by Woods, Supernova Scotian, Syracuse Special, Syracuse Weathervane, Tempis Fugit, Theory of Mind, Thinking About Gene, Three Steps Down, Three Wheel Drive, Toronto Tempest, Trick Auto Square, Voyager II, Le Voyageur, What the Heck, Yearning for Peace, Yes We Have No Bananas, Zero Sum Game.