Family and friends in town for Thanksgiving? Bring them to a Contra Dance the Saturday after Thanksgiving!
The Community Contra Dance Series hosted by Global Awareness Local Action (G.A.L.A.) continues on Saturday, November 24th at the Wolfeboro Town Hall’s “Great Hall”. Dances run 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, and neither experience nor a partner is required. 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 and enjoy the live music.
Instruction and the evening’s calls will be from long-time contra dance caller Dudley Laufman. At age 87, Dudley is still fully engaged in a 65-year career as a dance caller for local country dances throughout New England.
Dance admission fees are as follows: $8.00 for adults, $5.00 for 6yr-18yr olds, and 5yr and under free. Anyone experiencing financial hardship or large families are welcome to pay as able. 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. Attendees and community members are also encouraged to bring a snack to share for the snack table for it turns out that dancing can build an appetite! If you do bring a snack, G.A.L.A. asks you to consider healthy options with little or no processed sugar, such as nuts, crackers and cheese, fruit, or chips and salsa for example.
Cancellations due to weather will be posted by 3pm the day of the dance on G.A.L.A.’s website and Facebook page. For more information about this event or to sign up to volunteer visit their website at www.galacommunity.org, call the office at 603-569-1500, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dudley has the rare ability to both call a dance while also playing an instrument. He plays melodeon, harmonica & sometimes , when his fingers allow, his fiddle at old town halls, farmer’s markets, folk festivals, weddings, barn dances, kitchen junkets and for the Canterbury morris dance team.
As described by the National Endowment for the Arts, the name Dudley Laufman is so closely associated with the contra and barn dances of New England that most long-term residents refer to local gatherings as “Dudley Dances.” Two forms of community dances evolved in New England — contra dances, done in lines with partners facing one another, and square dances featuring sets of four couples. After the Revolutionary War, dances such as these, associated with England, fell out of favor, except in the rural areas of the Northeast where they continued to occur in informal settings such as kitchen parties and barn dances. Laufman came to New Hampshire in 1947 to work at a dairy farm and began to attend these local dances. He called his first dance in 1948 and soon started his own musical group for the dances, which later became the Canterbury Country Dance Orchestra. During the 1970s, the orchestra made a number of recordings, and Laufman traveled throughout the region, performing and teaching dance at schools, community centers, and public parks, averaging 300 or more engagements each year. Today he performs and gives workshops with his partner Jacqueline as the duo Two Fiddles. Ernest Thompson, New Hampshire resident and author of On Golden Pond, succinctly conveys Laufman’s contributions to New England dance: “I think Dudley Laufman belongs in the pantheon of genuine American artists. He belongs in Franconia Notch, the real Old Man of the Mountain.”