David Millstone started contra dancing with Dudley Laufman in the early 1970s and has been calling dances for forty years. His monthly dance (1980–2015) was with the band “Northern Spy” in Norwich, Vermont, making this one of the longest series in New England. With an American repertoire ranging from traditional New England chestnuts to high-energy recent compositions, he calls contras, squares, and interesting dances in odd formations. He is also an experienced caller of English country dances. He is known for his clear and supportive teaching style, the breadth of his repertoire, his sense of humor, and his ability to pick dances that offer the right level of challenge for all audiences.
David has called throughout the United States and Canada, as well as in nine countries in Europe. He has made six calling tours of Denmark, including conducting a daylong callers’ class, and he has led dance tours to Prague and the Czech Republic on six occasions. In 2016, gigs included a return to Victoria, BC (February), English country dance in Hawaii (March), American and English country dances in Ottawa and Montreal (April), four sessions at the New England Folk Festival (April), contras and traditional squares at the ECTA convention in Germany (June), on staff at the Ooh La La! July 4th weekend in the eastern townships of Québec, English country dance and squares (!) at Hey Days in California (July), and then back in Europe for six weeks in the fall, with dances scheduled in Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland, and then the 25th annual festival of contras and squares in Tommerup, Denmark. His 2017 schedule already shows him on staff as the annual Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend celebrates its 30th anniversary, calling in Minneapolis for the Call of the Loon dance weekend, leading another trip in May to the Czech Republic, calling English country dance at the Adirondack Dance Weekend in September and returning to Dance in the Desert in Oracle, Arizona, in November. Whew!
As a dance leader for younger or less experienced dancers, he has called for hundreds of family dances, weddings and private parties throughout the Northeast. He has been a staff member at week-long family dance camps run by the Country Dance and Song Society. A former elementary school teacher, he also taught country dancing, sword dancing and Morris dancing to students. One of his favorite regular gigs is the family dance sponsored by the Parent-Teacher Organization in his small New Hampshire city; 2016 marked the 33rd annual event, and he's called at every one.
A dance historian, he is co-author of Cracking Chestnuts, a book about classic American contra dances published by CDSS. He also wrote the contra dance history chapter of Dance a While (tenth edition) and the liner notes on dance history for the “Contra Roots and Branches” CD. He coordinates the Square Dance History Project, a major initiative that is building a digital library —moving images, audio clips, photographs, and text — exploring all different styles, past and present, of square dance. His video documentaries about Bob McQuillen, Dudley Laufman, and Ralph Sweet are well regarded.
David Millstone served for six years on the Governing Board of the Country Dance and Song Society, the nation’s major organization supporting traditional English and Anglo-American music and dance, and he is now CDSS President.