A Night To Remember
In the video about the Norwich contra dance with Northern
Spy, musician Rick Barrows muses, "Sometimes it's ordinary and sometimes
it's magical; you just have to keep showing up." Saturday night was one of
those nights we'll all remember. Here's a link to the video footage from that night.
Planning a dance program
in a dance program?
was struck once again, as I was planning my English country dance for
Sunday, at the number of variables that get juggled to make a good
start out by knowing that you want some simpler dances at the start.
There's always a good chance that there will be less experienced
dancers and maybe some—hooray!—who have never done this form of
dance before. Those simpler dances give folks a chance to learn some
of the basic terminology, which can be a confusing blur of jargon to
an outsider's ear: "set and turn single," crossover mirror
heys," "half a double figure eight," and so on.
other great thing about simpler dances is that the experienced
dancers can spend more time dancing and less feeling that they need
to help the newcomers.
One Sunday night about six months ago,
I was calling at a community dance an hour from home. Good band of
talented young musicians and a friendly crowd. We had some hard-core
contra dancers—one of whom left early on, perhaps because the first
few dances weren't challenging enough for his taste—and some
absolute beginners, with a nice mix of ages. One young girl, maybe 4
or 5, apparently comes often; she was dancing with her dad and she
had clearly absorbed the most important things to know: keep smiling,
look at the people around you, keep moving, and hold out your hands.
Later in the evening, second dance after the break, we were down to
short sets, 7 or 8 couples in each. I looked at one line, saw a bunch of adults, and announced Money Musk, a tune
the band had been itching to play and a dance that I knew would be
familiar to many of those present at that time. No sooner had I had
announced the dance than I noticed a different young girl lined up in
Three recent dances
It's been a busy few days! Three very
different dance events, back to back:
English country dance weekend
I called at Sharpes
Assembly, an English country dance event held
two hours south of Orlando in a historic hotel in Sebring, Florida.
Does that name sound familiar? It's the same town where where the
annual 12-hour car race is held. This event was a bit mellower. ;-) The venue was advertised as "old Florida," and it was a lovely change from the Florida of neon and strip malls.
In addition to dance parties on Friday
and Saturday nights and the farewell dance on Sunday, I led one
workshop on dances
set to tunes by Turlough O'Carolan, the great
Irish harper of the 1700s, and another featuring contemporary
choreography, a nod to the many fine dances being composed these
It was a mixed group of dancers,
including some with decades of experience and some who were quite
new. (I'm always amazed that someone new to an activity would sign up
for a full weekend of it... can't tell whether this is a case of
"fools rush in" or a brave heart.) Fortunately, the
experienced dancers were helpful and the workshop programs included a
few more difficult dances that turned out well.