Contra Dance Mar 26, with the Fiddling Thomsons

A clip from last month's dance. Video Credit: Maria Found

The Community Contra Dance Series hosted by Global Awareness Local Action (G.A.L.A.) will host it’s third dance of the season on Saturday, March 26th at the Wolfeboro Town’s Hall’s “Great Hall” (84 S Main Street, Wolfeboro). Dances runs from 7:00 to 10:00pm, with the first half hour dedicated to a brief overview of the basic steps of New England contra dance. Dances are a fun and energizing night out for all ages and abilities, even if you simply prefer to cheer the dancers on from the sidelines.

The March dance will feature The Fiddling Thomsons, led by father and son Ryan and Brennish Thomson. This award-winning duo has taught workshops and played for dances and fiddle competitions throughout the region. Although they will be playing traditional New England contra tunes, the Thomsons have worked with a variety of musical styles and unusual instruments. Ryan is a respected contra enthusiast and music researcher and has even attended dances internationally! The two will be joined by Damaris Rohsenow, who plays hammered dulcimer and piano, as well as Don Heinold, who will be calling the dance.

The name “Contra Dance” refers to partnered folk dance styles, where couples dance in two facing lines. Contra dance is a hybrid of English country dances and French court dances. At the end of the 17th century, French dancers began to incorporate the English country dances with steps from their own court dances and in turn called these dances contra-dance, or contredanse. Many of the moves called out during the dance originate from the French terminology.

The contra dance was very popular throughout America from the 1700’s well into the 1800’s, but with the arrival of the square dance, waltz, swing, and other forms of dance it’s popularity was mostly confined to rural areas. It is interesting to note that before the contra dance’s revival it was not known to be called a night of “Contra Dancing.” Rather it had other names such as: Barn Dance, Kitchen Junket, Old Timers Ball, and The Dance. These dances were held in church halls, grange halls, town halls, barns, and even places like kitchens and living rooms. There was a time in New England when contra dances were so popular that one band might be booked 6 nights in a single week!

Dance admission fees help to pay the band and cover outreach material, and are as follows: $7.00 for adults, $5.00 for students and seniors, $3.00 for children under 12, and $25 for a household of up to seven people. In an effort to protect the newly refinished wood floor in the Great Hall participants are encouraged to bring an extra pair of shoes for dancing that do not have a black sole. If you are unable to bring extra shoes there will be a brush at the door for you to remove dirt and snow before entering. G.A.L.A. is also looking to fill a few volunteer shifts for the dances this year if you are interested. For more information about this event or to sign up to volunteer call the office at 603-539-6460, or email

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