March Contra Dance


Saturday, March 24th
Wolfeboro Town Hall

The Community Contra Dance Series hosted by Global Awareness Local Action (G.A.L.A.) continues on Saturday, March 24th at the Wolfeboro Town Hall’s newly renovated “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.  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, Jacqueline Laufman will be calling the dance to the live musical accompaniment of String Equinox, led by Beverly Woods and Shana Aisenberg. Jacqueline Laufman has played the fiddle for traditional dances for over 30 years. She loves the absolute joy of people dancing together! The terrific, driving sound of jigs and reels on fiddle, piano, flute, banjo, or guitar coupled with the rousing camaraderie of musicians playing those instruments is one of the best things to enjoy. Jacqueline has earned her living playing fiddle, has several recordings, and co-authored an educational book-CD-DVD package great for teachers. Canterbury is her home and you can contact her through her email:

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 contra dance music to eastern European Klezmer, Balkan, Nordic, bottleneck blues and jazz. Beverly and Shana Aisenberg lead this group of multi-talented musicians. You can expect to see a variety of instruments highlighting some traditional contra tunes at this dance.

There are a lot of reason to enjoy dancing, but here’s a fun fact – dancing is one of the more impressive ways to increase our brain’s cognitive reserve, something good for the brain at every age, but a particularly valuable protective force for maintaining cognition into old age.  In a New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) study, dancing was found to reduce risk of dementia more than any other physical or mental activity studied. Bicycling and swimming, for instance, while excellent for the cardiovascular system, reduced the risk of dementia by 0%, as did playing golf. Reading reduced the risk by 35% and puzzling out crosswords at least 4 days a week, 47%. Frequent dancing, however, reduced the risk of dementia by 76%!

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 are as follows:  $8.00 for adults, $5.00 for 6yr-18yr olds, and 5yr and under free.  You can buy tickets on our website here. Anyone experiencing financial hardship is invited to pay what they can and no one will be turned away for financial reasons.  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, call the office at 603-539-6460, or email


We all know it’s important to get out and about during March. Hope to see you there!

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