square dancing contra dance barn hoedown ceili kayli caller dancing traditional Grand Rapids Ann Arbor Lansing Kalamazoo lakeshore Detroit southeastern west Michigan Civil War ball Regency Federal 1812 Red Hat Society vintage Victorian formal ballgown folk music family fun daddy daughter mother mommy son high school teenager youth string band Irish Scottish English reels jigs schottishe waltz polka fan dance Missavage Dunnam Karen Lovett Hall new years eveeve

"Good evening, and welcome to our dance."

Halloween 1981 was my first contra dance; I've been at this more than half of my life.
And I called my first dance on November 11, 1991. 24+ years of dance calling!

Besides calling your dance, I can help with event planning, scheduling, publicity, ideas for decorations and refreshments, formats, themes, emcee work, even reading door prize ticket numbers. And I'm often available on short notice. I bring my own PA system, and your choice of recorded music or a live string band. A gracious 19th century Victorian dress ball...a haybale hoedown in a barn...a casual party for beginners...a wedding reception or anniversary party...an adoption celebration... a scout or school party...a homeschool graduation...a holiday party for the office...a dance society series event...pinata music and guidance... What do you need? We'll make it happen!

Most of my dancing fun takes place in Michigan; I'm based in Grand Rapids. To check my availability for a particular date, just click the Upcoming events link. I sometimes travel several hours to call a dance event. With access to a network of callers throughout the country, if I'm not available, perhaps I can help you find someone who is.

Spread the fun!
Calling dances is personally rewarding and helps build community. Something you'd like to get into? I'd be happy to lead a workshop for several, or offer a mentoring program for one. Especially Wayne - Oakland - Macomb, with a combined population of 5.3M
(source: Detroit Regional Chamber)
Contact me here

At a summer camp hoedown. My cactus can come along; let me know!

This video, shot in "caller cam," shows a wide variety of dance events.

  • a monthly contra dance; lots of younger dancers all decked out for Halloween
  • the ever-popular Fan Dance at a Civil War ball
  • a private party in a barn
  • a high-level monthly contra dance where we test the dancers on their ability to shift modes on the fly

What is contra dancing?

Dances I've composed

Other fun dances

Upcoming events

Photo album

Dance links


Rave reviews

What is contra dancing?
It's fun, easy, vigorous, and a great way to meet people! Traditional American country dances (such as the Virginia Reel) are performed by pairs of dancers facing in opposing lines. The maneuvers are similar to those used in square dancing. A friendly patient caller provides a walk-through prior to each dance set, and prompts along with the music. There's no "leader" or "follower;" everyone follows the calls. You get to dance with everyone else in your set. And when the music stops, thank that partner and find a new one-- you'll get to dance with everyone else in the hall!
A contra dance usually features live music by a talented string band performing jigs, reels, hoedowns, polkas, and waltzes. There're a few square, circle, and couple dances as well. No partner or previous training is needed; experienced dancers will welcome you, ask you to dance, and help you through the figures. Soft-soled shoes and comfortable casual attire recommended. (Hoopskirts are optional.) If you can walk, you can dance.
Come join the fun! There are contra dance communities throughout the USA, mostly in large urban areas or towns with higher education. Use these links to find a local dance near you!

Going on vacation? Find dance events via these links

Dwayne's Contra Dance Page

Ted Crane's Dance Database

The Dance Gypsy


Ceder's Caller and Cuer Database

In Michigan

Fall 2015: Michigan Humanities Council

Michigan dances
West Michigan calendar

My upcoming events

Come to the Lovett Hall contra dance

More videos -- just click to watch

At a chili cook-off benefit dance. Music by Fiddlefire

A family reunion dance to recorded music

The Fan Dance...a big hit at every event

Let's have a hoedown at your private party!

Perry's Victory Ball -- a Regency dance event

Three-Hand Star for a small group

Comments? Feedback? Calendar availability?

E-mail me here -- type into your messaging application
Karen Dunnam (at) gmail (dot) com

More dance videos on my YouTube channel