The Community Contra Dance Series hosted by G.A.L.A. continues on Saturday, February 27th at the Wolfeboro Town Hall’s newly renovated “Great Hall”. Last month’s kickoff dance had a great turnout with more than 80 attendees joining in this traditional community event. 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. 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.
For this next dance Beverly Woods will be calling the dance to the live musical accompaniment of String Equinox, led by Shana Aisenberg. In addition to calling dances, Beverly sings and plays hammered dulcimer, tsimbl, piano, organ and other keyboards, piano and chromatic button accordions, 6- and 7-string guitars, autoharp, mandolin, bouzouki, pennywhistle, hand percussion, fretted dulcimer, folk harp, concertina, nyckelharpa, tenor banjo, and hurdy-gurdy. Shana Aisenberg is an acoustic multi-instrumentalist, composing, playing, recording and teaching diverse styles from traditional Appalachian, Celtic and New England contradance music to eastern European Klezmer, Balkan, Nordic, bottleneck blues and jazz. Beverly and Shana Aisenburg lead this group of multi-talented musicians. You can expect to see a variety of instruments highlighting some traditional contra tunes at this dance.
Dance admission fees are as follows: $7.00 for adults, $5.00 for students and seniors, and $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 visit their website at www.galacommunity.org, call the office at 603-539-6460, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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!