3-5 May 2019 
15TH Annual 

Whitewater Whirl!

a mini dance vacation in WV's New River Gorge Scenic Recreation Area

Home > Callers and Bands

Callers and Bands

Gaye Fifer

Gaye Fifer is an accomplished contra caller and waltz instructor from Pittsburgh, PA (by way of Charlottesville, VA). An active dancer herself, Gaye understands the subtleties of making contras and waltzes particularly satisfying for dancers. Her instructions are clear and concise, a talent that comes naturally because she was a teacher by profession. An easy smile and delightful sense of humor are part of Gaye's relaxed, pleasant style while calling and teaching.

Gaye is known as both a dance caller and leader of some fun and unusual workshops. She’s been described (not by us, although we would agree) as “the best waltz teacher in the country.” She has been a caller and teacher at almost every dance weekend in the eastern US and delights dancers with her clear walk-throughs and smooth-flowing contras. 

Bradley Smith

After stumbling into his first contra dance in early 2011, Kentucky resident Bradley Smith knew he had found something special. By August that year, driven by curiosity as to how contra worked and a desire to give back to the community he loved, he found himself at his first callers’ workshop learning from the wonderful Carol Ormand. Since then he has continued to develop his style through workshops with callers such as Diane Silver, Cary Ravitz, Sue Rosen, Lisa Greenleaf, and Rick Mohr. Bradley aims to create a fun, energetic atmosphere with lively calls, intelligent programming, and quick and efficient teaching, all done with a light touch.

Gaye and Bradley will share the calling for the Friday and Saturday night dances, and lead workshops. Bradley will stay up past midnight to host the late-night dance party on Saturday.

The Ripples

We’re more than excited to announce that The Ripples, who were such a big hit at the 2018 Whirl, will be back with us this year for the whole weekend!

This exciting young band, based in Cincinnati and Louisville, has fast become a favorite on the contra dance weekend circuit, earning rave reviews wherever they go. While keeping a firm footing in traditional American music, the Ripples offer a distinctive brand of what they call “a contemporary-meets-traditional sound with hints of jazz, bluegrass, world beats, and straight up pop hits.”  The Ripples feature Gabrielle Lanza on vocals and percussion, Kristen Planeaux on piano, flute, vocals and percussion, Andrew Taylor on fiddle, and Christopher Wood on piano, guitar and bass. The band has featured at dance weekends throughout the Midwest. They invite you to “come stomp, slink, and slide across the dance floor to their entrancing tunes!”

Find out more about this great band and listen to them play at dance weekends at 

The Wild Ones

The Wild Ones take the traditional New England contra dance combination of fiddle and piano, and add accordion and hand drums to create an entrancing, rhythmic sound with jazzy flair.


Fiddler Paul Epstein is probably best known as the fiddler with the contra dance band the Contrarians, who have played dances from New York to Georgia and throughout the Midwest. Paul is a versatile musician and prolific writer of songs and tunes, with three CDs of his own and two with the Contrarians.

Rita Ray (piano/keyboard) played her first public dance in 2005 and has been expanding her repertoire ever since. 

Paula Bickham took up accordion when she lived in Cajun country, and for 20 years has focused on hand-drumming and rhythms from West Africa, the Caribbean and the Middle East.  With their fusion of traditional and world styles, the Wild Ones will make you want to keep dancing.


Updated: 2019-04-09