100 Years Ago Today —Sharp & Karpeles Start Collecting Songs

from Donald Hughes, Project Coordinator

CecilandMaudToday, July 25, 2016, marks the centennial of the beginning of the Appalachian song collecting fieldwork of Cecil J. Sharp and Maud Karpeles. The NC Folklife Institute and the Country Dance and Song Society are sponsoring the celebration and recognition of this important work. The Madison County Arts Council, Mars Hill University, the English Folk Dance and Song Society, and others join us in the effort.

One hundred years ago, in the wake of a massive flood of the French Broad River, with stifling heat and disruption, Cecil and Maud set out, with the assistance of John C. and Olive Dame Campbell and Helen Storrow of MA, to travel the Appalachian region, first in Madison County, NC, then in subsequent months and years to other counties and other states, including VA, TN, KY, and WV.

1916 newspapersThe result was a strong appreciation of the influence of traditional English music within Appalachian culture, a regard that continues to this day. As with all things American, this influence blended with many other traditions in forming the very vibrant state of music throughout the region.

Please take a look at our website (cecilsharpinappalachia.org). There will be frequent postings that will reflect the progress of Sharp and Karpeles travels in 1916 during this year.

A centennial is a good marker of durability and meaning. We are pleased to be a part of this recognition. And we hope you enjoy the reprise of this journey.

 

Making the World a More Beautiful Place

by Chris Ricciotti

ChrisRicciottiExcept for the first paragraph, which is from recent correspondence, this essay was posted on Facebook; it’s reprinted here with the author’s kind permission.

“I think it’s important to see that dancing and music, song, community, the intentional connections we all make as a part of this tradition, is incredibly spiritual, and healing, on so many levels. In a time when there are so many distractions in our fast paced technology driven society that can pull us away from being connected face to face with others, here is one thriving tradition that continues to break the rules of our modern day society and gives us a fun and playful excuse to come together to share in something much greater than we are individually.”

FACEBOOK POST

In 1985 at 25 years of age, when I came out as a gay man, the world was a very different place than what it is now. At 55 years of age now, those of you who are much younger than I may not have the perspective that we who are a bit more mature have. Back then, there were few social groups, and most of the community was based around bars and other associated events.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can speak for myself when I say that this was just not what I was looking for in my coming out process. I really wanted something very different that was not the mainstream part of what it was to be gay back then. I wanted to be a real human being, not just a gay human being, and I wanted to share good times with good folks, sharing healthy social time in a warm and inclusive environment. Never in all that time did I ever imagine that I could intertwine two very different worlds, my love of music and dance and my exploration of being a gay man. In fact early on, before I came out, I distinctly remember the moment when I had this amazing epiphany, and in that moment, it was the most exciting thing that had ever come to mind. And just as quickly I dismissed it.

It wasn’t until I joined a men’s choral group in Providence, RI in 1986 where all that was to change. I overheard a conversation one evening, a friend of mine at the time, Bill Wilson, mentioned he has gone to see a Gay Rodeo out in Denver, CO. I couldn’t even imagine of such an event back then, but then he went on to say that afterwards he went to a square dance. My ears immediately perked up, and I turned around and asked, “You mean, a GAY square dance??” He replied, “Yes, they have been doing it out there for years.” As soon as I heard that, I knew I had to find a way to merge these two worlds together, and now 30 years later, we have a documentary of the power of what the vision of one person, shared with an entire community, can do.

To all those who have shared this vision, and who continue to help in its course and in its future, to all those lovely individuals who have at one time or another graced our dance halls and dance camps with your presence, and to all those who have shared that this amazing community has helped them through their rough times in their lives, and have helped connect them to a warm and accepting group of like-minded individuals and lifelong friendships, I say a heartfelt thank you.

It is because of all of you, who like myself, needed something a bit out of the ordinary, who desired a community of warm and accepting individuals, who understand that we can all make a difference, who understand the social power of dance, music, song, hugs, and the social interactions, that some 30 years later, we have this amazing community that continues to welcome lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender, asexuals, intersex, queer, questioning, and straight friends. What an amazing diversity in a social time where there is so much extremism pulling at us from all sides. I take great comfort in sharing myself within this community. I know my life would be very different had it not been for LCFD.

Please take a moment to watch this video. Please share this with your friends and families. Invite people to come and join us, and share this love with others. Each of us has the power to make this world a more beautiful place!

Lavender Country and Folk Dancers (LCFD) has been working with filmmaker Nate Daniel on a full-length documentary about their dance community which is expected to be released in 2017. This short video is a preview of the longer documentary.

LCFD sponsors, supports and promotes a nationwide network of local gender-free community dances and dance camps. Their groups are mostly contra and English country dances, but they also encompass several other dance traditions. While their focus is LGBTQ communities, they welcome everyone to their dances and camps.

Chris Ricciotti is a dance caller and organizer and a member of LCFD’s Board of Directors; he lives in Massachusetts.

Contra Dancing in Mexico—The Adventure Begins!

by Linda Leslie

Mérida Dance Week, January 16-23, 2016

270392de7e10d5176ca365b1f029cd36It is a testament to the joy of contra dancing, that some folks will go to great lengths to make sure that they have opportunities to dance. Take Brooks Hart as a prime example. I had the good fortune to meet Brooks when he was involved with Village Contra in New York City. He volunteered many hours for that dance, and even did some calling. Since those days, Brooks has moved to Mérida, on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. He is very happy there, but he missed contra dancing. He realized that the only way to do some dancing close to home was to start a dance. So he did just that! For the last year, he has offered a dance series in Mérida, and some occasional dances in Oaxaca. Despite the challenges of finding good dance space, and the ups and downs of attendance, he has remained true to his vision of having contra dancing in his new home town.

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Brooks Hart

Along the way, we started a very enjoyable email conversation, which included sharing dances, thoughts on music, suggestions for programming, as well as teaching, and lots of encouragement. As luck would have it, Brooks shared a dream he had of offering a dance weekend to which folks in the U.S. might be tempted to participate. His thought was that the influx of experienced dancers would be great for all his new folks, and the dance series might grow as a consequence. In addition, visitors would have a great colonial era city to visit and enjoy. This idea seemed wonderful to me, and I encouraged him to move forward with it…..and volunteered to help out by being his caller. Thus the Mérida Dance Week was born!

After considering various options, Brooks decided that, rather than a weekend, the dance sessions would be spread out over a week, allowing visitors to have their contra dancing, but also more options for exploring the cultural and historic offerings of Mérida and the Yucatan. And what a week he chose! The dates coincide with a three-week long Arts and Culture Festival, which celebrates the founding of Mérida in 1542. Here is an outline of what the city has to offer, during the Festival:

  • Dance: contemporary dance, as well as traditional dances and events.
  • Theatre: presentations, workshops and visits to various communities.
  • Conferences: talks, lectures and conferences with leading characters.
  • Literature: lectures, seminars, and presentations of books and magazines.
  • Visual Arts: movies, documentaries, exhibition of paintings, photographs and handicrafts.
  • Music: concerts, serenades, trips, dances, and traditional events.
  • Children: events directed especially for the whole family*

Brook’s plan is to have 2 or 3 contra dances, a waltz workshop, and a musician’s workshop during the week of January 16-23, 2016. To sweeten things even more: Amy Larkin (fiddle), and Linda Henry (piano), will also make the trip, so that we can enjoy fabulous live music!

We are really looking forward to this trip! Since I speak Spanish, it will be fun to teach the dances in both Spanish and English. Brooks has been actually calling the dance moves in English. This seems to be the decision made by a number of folks who have begun contra/square dancing groups in locations outside the U.S. For example, in Denmark. The idea is that dancers can then dance in many more places, if they know the calls in English. As a result, a number of Danes have attended Pinewoods Camp, and had a great time!

Brooks attended the New England Folk Festival (NEFFA) in 2015, and brought a friend from Oaxaca (who fell in love with all things Balkan!), one of the contra dancers from Mérida, and her good friend from Louisiana. They all had a great time! We hope to tempt an even larger group from Mérida to join us at NEFFA 2016. I have offered hospitality to any who might be tempted, so we hope that dancers come and enjoy our Festival.

We hope that as many dancers as possible join us in Mexico for this adventure. You can be kept updated, and discuss travel, lodging and excursion options, by asking to join the FB group, which is called: Mérida Contra Dance-January 2016 or you may also email me directly: laleslierjg@comcast.net.

Saludos! Linda Leslie

* Festival schedule, in Spanish

Talking Square

SD panel (cropped)

Rima (3rd from right) representing CDSS at the 2015 National Square Dance Convention (photo by David Millstone)

We had the privilege of participating in a national organization panel at the National Square Dance Convention, late last month in Springfield, MA. Colleagues on the panel represented: CALLERLAB (http://www.callerlab.org), Contralab (http://www.contralab.net), Alliance of Round, Traditional and Square-Dance (http://www.arts-dance.org), United Square Dancers of America (http://www.usda.org/), Roundalab (http://www.roundalab.org), and the Canadian Square and Round Dance Society (http://www.csrds.ca). CDSS was invited to be on the panel and we were represented by Executive Director, Rima Dael.

Topics of discussion included:

  • What are the challenges facing folk dancing today?
  • What does your organization consider the greatest priorities to address?
  • Are there possibilities of sharing and coordinating projects to address these issues together?
  • What are your near term goals (next five years)?
  • What needs to happen so that we can expect active participation in the various forms of dance for the next 100 years?

Rima shared that we think the biggest challenge for our dance, music and song communities is time and money. With enough of both, all problems or challenges could be solved, but given that both time and money are scarce resources for all nonprofits and volunteer groups, we focus on three ways to help our communities be resilient:

  • building a pipeline of dancers, callers, musicians and organizers
  • problem identification/problem solving through sharing common issues and best practices
  • communication best practices online and offline

(These are three areas CDSS has identified through the Strategic Direction and specifically articulated in the “CDSS Theory of Change” section in our recent Education Report.

All the panelists shared concerns around time, money and cultivating volunteers needed to help keep our organizations going, and involving the younger folks in stewarding our art forms. Ironically, with many questions raised about how to involve youth, none were present in the conversation. Rima posed that we need to ask our younger constituents how to better engage them, and to consider defining what we mean when we say “youth”—in some instances, it could mean 40 or under, or students K–12, or young adults.

There was a lot of discussion around involving next generation and youth participants. CDSS was the only organization on the panel that promotes intergeneration programs and has weeklong summer camps that teach kids, youth and young adults dance, music and song skills.

It was an interesting discussion as the national organizations represented are all arts service organizations that serve their membership with programs and services from insurance to skill-building and best practice workshops. One thing we can learn from the Modern Western Square Dance groups are how connected many of them are with their local/regional Tourism Boards and the use of assisted hearing devices that are in sync with the caller’s microphone; these are two areas CDSS would like to investigate more. David Millstone, CDSS President, also in attendance at the panel discussion (and, in his teacher/caller’s role, leading several dance workshops at the Convention), shared with the panel and audience the new New Hampshire Art Council social dance map, based on West Virginia’s Mountain Trail Dance Map.

It was great to see so many folks in downtown Springfield, from all over the country, dressed in their formal square dance attire. This was the Convention’s first visit to New England; we look forward to seeing them again soon.

 

American Week, Pinewoods 2014

by Chuck Abell

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Photo by Garrett Fondoules

When I first heard about the Country Dancers of Rochester (CDR) scholarship program for CDSS camps, I developed an immediate interest. As a new caller—and as an experienced musician—I was looking for any opportunities to hone my skills in both areas, and just to collaborate with other callers and musicians.

Having never been to Pinewoods before, I was initially struck by the mellow, woodsy environment, along with the two beautiful lakes/ponds situated next to the camp. Pinewoods is truly a New England paradise. The next revelation was the outdoor dance pavilion, again tucked back in the woods. There really is nothing like dancing outdoors in a covered pavilion in mid-August. From the first night it was evident that magical things would happen in the pavilion over the course of the week—in many ways, it was really the center of the camp. The final thing that struck me right from the start was the diversity and the energy of the campers. I confess, I was bracing for something perhaps a little more on the stuffy side when I first registered, but that notion was well wide of the mark —teenagers, college students, young couples, middle-agers, and more “seasoned” dancers all converged at the camp for a week of creativity and true rejuvenation.

Some snapshots of the next six days:

  • Gathering at 10 am every morning for Phil Jamison’s Southern Squares class. What a great tradition, and a great teacher. Having no sense of what distinguished a Southern Square from a New England or Western square, I quickly came to understand that Southern Squares are about improvisation, about calling to the beat of the music, not to the phrasing. What a liberation! For the rest of the week, we took turns inventing—and calling—squares to the great old time music of Julie Metcalf and company, always under the skillful guidance of Phil, who really seems to me to be David Kaynor’s long-lost Southern brother! Well, brothers in spirit at least….
  • David Cantieni’s “tunes by ear” class which became a virtual playground of ideas and genres. Being one of the few instrumental “ensemble” classes, we were charged with preparing each evening’s “processional”—a joyous musical march through the darkening woods just before the evening dance. (“When the Saints Go Marching In” never sounded so good!)
  • The daily camp gathering that followed morning classes, but preceded swimming and lunch. A time for jokes, songs, stories, contests, and other spontaneous acts of generosity by staff and campers alike. It was the one time of the day when we really came together as a single camp, and it was an honor to see otherwise taciturn campers get up and perform in front of 150 audience members.
  • The Roadhouse after-dance party, midweek. Okay, I’m biased here—being one-third of the nominal “house band” charged with backing up a small parade of crooners, blues singers, and jazz soloists—with a room full of enthusiastic swing, blues, and bossa nova dancers—is right where it’s at for me. They pretty much had to drag us off the stage at 1:30 am.
  • Emily Troll’s music ensemble class—that is, band class for musicians. Okay, I confess, some of the “touchy/feely” interpersonal games at the start of each class reminded me a little too much of the upcoming school year (not an image I wanted to entertain), but once we got past those, the class was really useful and helped spawn several small instrumental ensembles that took the stage at Camper’s Night (see below).
  • Gaye Fifer’s “Dutch Crossing”—hard to really put this into words, but definitely a highlight of the week. Look it up on YouTube if you want. Basically, a dance that requires 16 couples, takes 55 (intense) minutes to teach, and five minutes to actually dance. A great teamwork activity.
  • Swimming Squares. Yes, real Southern square dances, performed while swimming in the lake. Not only hilarious but a great form of exercise. Just be careful when “ducking for the oyster.”
  • Camper’s Night—a true highlight. A chance for (very talented) campers to run the evening dance. Somehow, I ended up in five to six music ensembles, so I never got to dance until the second half, but it was well worth it. A memorable, and somewhat revolutionary, segment: David Cantieni’s entire ear training class joined by Ann Percival’s entire chorus class performing “Wimoweh” as a contra dance set. It actually works!

And the list of highlights goes on: the food, the lodges, the pre-dinner parties, the after-dance parties, the midnight swimming, the networking, the afternoon old time jam sessions led by Larry Unger, the not-so impromptu marshmallow fight at dinner one night, the full moon over the lake as I drifted to sleep in my bunkhouse…

Looking back, both my calling and my playing have improved as a result of being at American Week—not only do I have an expanded repertoire of dances and tunes, but my skills have sharpened considerably. Had it not been for the CDR grant, and matching CDSS scholarship, I most certainly would have missed out on an invaluable experience.

Chuck Abell is a contra dance caller and musician from Rochester, NY. His band, Tempest, featuring fiddler Tim Ball and several other great western NY musicians, just released its first full-length CD, Equilibrium, and will be touring extensively over the next year to promote the release. Keep an eye out for them, or visit www.chuckabell.com for more info on the band.

Come to American Dance and Music Week at Pinewoods, August 8-15, http://www.cdss.org/american.html. Or the equally fine Harmony of Song and Dance, July 25-August 1, http://www.cdss.org/harmony.html. Space is available, and so are scholarship funds until we run out. To read about all our programs at Pinewoods (MA), Ogontz (NH) and Timber Ridge (WV), see https://view.publitas.com/country-dance-and-song-society/country-dance-song-society-2015-camps/page/1. Questions? Call Country Dance and Song Society, 413-203-5467 x 2.

 

Folk Music Archives Conference

by Pat MacPherson, CDSS Director of Education

pat macpherson head shotOn May 7th and 8th, 2015, I attended a Folk Music Archives Conference, organized by Jay Hartman-Berrier, Director of the Indian Neck Folk Festival from 1967-the present. The conference addressed a pressing need: at Indian Neck, and many other folk festivals, someone would tape a concert, sometimes identifying notes were taken, and those tapes ended up in someone’s attic or basement. After many years, tapes became cassettes, became CDs, and there were too many of them. Where should they be kept? How should they be preserved? Is anyone interested in listening to them anymore?

After introductions of the approximately 35 participants, including CDSS Board member Lorraine Hammond, we learned from keynote speaker, Nicole Saylor (Head of the Archive, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress), what services and resources the LofC offers, and how they administer and control their archives. Bob Walser, who works on the National Folklore Archives Initiative, used his work on the James Madison Carpenter Collection of sea shanties as a case study of cataloging and archiving a massive song collection for public and academic use. After dinner, there were two panels: the first on archiving issue for organizations, with me representing CDSS’s library and archives at UNH Durham, Geoff Kaufman (Mystic Seaport) and George Ward (Caffè Lena); and the second, case studies of sound preservation projects, including Gene Bowlen who is working with the Field Recorders Collective, who are archiving old-time music, and Ben Riesman, who is working with Howard Glasser archives.

The second day of the conference, our keynote speaker was Peter Irvine, lawyer and musician, who opened our eyes to the realities of copyright in theory and practice. Nicole Saylor talked about good archival practices for small organizations, and our last panel was a discussion of technical issues with archiving.

This amazing conference will be repeated next year. Our take-aways: go home and make an inventory of everything in those boxes! Reach out to someone else who you think might also be harboring a hidden collection, and pass on the information we learned. Finally, Bob Walser volunteered to create a prototype database which even the computer averse can use, to start creating digital databases of what exists now, and we hope will safely exist into the future.

If you are interested in contacting any of the people at the conference, write to jay@indian-neck.org.

Additional resource: http://www.loc.gov/folklife/edresources/ed-trainingdocuments.html

Dance, Music, Song & Talk at Red Barn Folk Festival

by Pat MacPherson, CDSS Director of Education

A1H_1179-optTwo weeks ago, I made my way to the Red Barn at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, the site of some mighty fun contra dances. On this occasion, however, I was going to take part on a panel at the first Red Barn Folk Festival, organized by Hampshire College senior, Abigail Hobart.

Abigail, part of a family of lifetime music and dance enthusiasts in Bellingham, WA, produced the festival as her senior project. Her hope was to educate and entertain a general audience about community-based New England folk traditions. Through participatory song and dance, the audience could critically engage with pertinent themes and topics: the evolution of tradition, fostering inclusive community, sustaining music and dance traditions, and the efficacy of local food systems. As Abigail wrote, “I tried to convey my belief that thoughtful maintenance and participation in community folk-traditions causes personal enjoyment, aids cultural preservation, and builds community, with the hope that this message was carried home by each festival attendee!”

A1H_1175-optWhen I opened the barn door, there was Tim Ericksen, one of our local superstars, in the middle of a condensed history of New England shape-note singing. Following hearty singing and a short break, the panel discussions started. CDSS Education Associate, Mary Wesley, singer and song organizer, Julia Friend, and I talked about the importance of nurturing youth participation in the participatory folk traditions, followed by two more discussion panels.

A1H_1403-optWith an attentive audience, great food supplied by local producers, and fabulous music by Sassafras Stomp, old-time singers Emma and Tati, and contra dancing for all, the first Red Barn Folk Festival was a successful expression of the values, strengths, and vitality of the local traditional arts and food communities in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts. Great job, Abigail.

More photos are on Abigail’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/search/str/abigail%20hobart/keywords_top.

 

Spread The Joy—It’s a slogan, it’s a song!

by Jonathan Jensen

Musician, songwriter and longtime CDSS member Jonathan Jensen, of Baltimore, sent us this lovely gift of his song in honor of our Centennial in 2015. It debuted on March 24, during Celebration Week. Download a PDF of the sheet music or listen to Jonathan and friends sing the song here. Or hear the song and watch the video here.

MuseScore_ Spread The JoyIn the CDSS world, I’m most active playing piano for English country dance, contra dance and couple dancing, as well as writing tunes in all these genres. Lately, though, I’ve become increasingly busy writing songs ranging from goofy parodies like The Tea Chantey to rounds and serious ballads. So as the 100th anniversary of CDSS approached I had a mind to write some kind of tribute in words and music. It was hard to get a handle on this project until I noticed the slogan “Spread The Joy” on one of the organization’s mailings. Once I decided on those three words as the title and the theme, the song all but wrote itself. There are so many ways we all spread the joy of music, dance, story and song in our various communities that I probably could have come up with dozens of verses (although the requirements of rhyme and meter do impose certain limitations).

Once the song was written, I e-mailed a quick demo to CDSS headquarters, where it was well received. There was a thought of posting it on the website and Facebook page right away, but on reflection it was decided to make a professional recording with multiple voices that could be used as the basis of a video. There followed an e-mail and phone barrage to many likely participants and the inevitable poring over schedules to decide who the final cast would be and when we could all get together. I was very fortunate to have Charlie Pilzer offer his services and studio (Airshow Mastering) for free. Terry Leonino and Greg Artzner, who make up the celebrated duo Magpie are friends of the Pilzers, and kindly volunteered to take part. Veteran dance musicians Steve Hickman and John Devine signed on to sing and play. Multi-instrumentalist Paul Oorts offered to round out the texture on mandolin. And when I decided we should have a teenage singer to represent the next generation, Steve got his daughter Maren to come along—and his wife DeLaura Padovan joined in for good measure.

On the evening of February 15 we all met at Charlie’s studio in Takoma Park. After a few run-throughs we worked out an arrangement that suited all the voices and made a number of takes, with me handling string bass duties. None of our readings were perfect all the way through, but we got to see Charlie work his wizardry as he swiftly replaced a faulty note or phrase from one take with a better version from another. We look forward to sharing the song with our friends across the nation as we join in celebrating the first 100 years of the Country Dance and Song Society.

CDSS is delighted to have its own song for the Centennial—we look forward to singing it with friends and humming it as we work. Thank you, Jonathan, for writing it; thanks to Charlie, Terry, Greg, Steve, John, Paul, Maren and DeLaura for the audio recording; and thanks to Mary Wesley for the video.

Storytelling at Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend

The 2015 Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend was a special one for CDSS.  Each year the weekend hosts a “retrospective session;” several hours of the dance weekend dedicated to honoring and exploring some component of dance/music traditions and history.  This year the session was focused on our Centennial: “100 Years of CDSS: The Country Dance and Song Society.”

Thanks to the herculean efforts of Adina Gordon, the organizer and emcee of the session, speakers and performers from far and wide gathered to speak about the multi-faceted history of CDSS and how the organization has touched their lives.  We heard from our current Executive Director, Rima Dael, as well as current Board President David Millstone (of course David called a few dances as well.)  Fred Breunig called an English Country Dance and shared memories of dancing with May Gadd at Pinewoods.  We heard from Tom Kruskal about leading the first morris tour of the Pinewoods Morris Men in Harvard Yard and then he grabbed his concertina and jumped down to accompany Jacqueline and Dudley Laufman as they played Highland Mary for the Canterbury morris side (Dudley will tell you this is the largest morris team in the world whose entire membership lives in the same town!) Dudley Laufman also spoke about dancing Money Musk and bringing his ever rebellious spirit to CDSS camps.  Carol Ormand, one of the weekend’s staff callers, shared memories of learning to call squares from Ted Sannella at camp and then of course she called one.  The session closed with a big circle mixer with great tunes from Rodney Miller, David Surette and Gordon Peery.

The Weekend was a Passport to Joy event and Passport stickers were flying off their sheets; for many this was the first stamp they’d received.  CDSS had a small selection from our store set up as well as some historical materials shared from the timeline on the new Centennial website.  During the weekend Pat MacPherson and I were also collecting stories for the CDSS Story Project.  Dancers answered three questions:

      1. I started dancing in: ____(year)____.
      2. I was ____ years old.
      3. I went dancing because: _________.

You can view all the wonderful responses here on our Flickr photostream.  I also loved seeing people reading the stories, which we posted on the wall and talking with each other about their memories and experiences.  It was nice to see first hand the kind of sharing and bonding we hope will emerge by giving people the opportunity to share stories about the traditions we all love.  Visit the story project home page to learn about collecting stories in your own community.

CDSS thanks the Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend and all who attended for being part of our Centennial celebration!

 

Trad Dance & Music Exhibit Opens in New Hampshire

by Lisa Sieverts

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Image: mid-1850s Dance Prompter’s Notebook

Interested in the history of contra and square dance? Come to Peterborough, New Hampshire, to view an exhibit opening on January 24, 2015:  “Gents Bow, Ladies Know How: Traditional Dance and Music in the Monadnock Region 1750-2015.”

“Gents Bow, Ladies Know How” traces the long history of traditional dance and music in southwestern New Hampshire from Colonial times to the present, with an emphasis on the 18th and 19th centuries. The Monadnock region of New Hampshire is one of the few places in the country where these dances have been done continuously since the mid-1700s.

The exhibit features artifacts, documents, instruments, photographs and audio recordings.  In addition to the on-going exhibit, there will be a series of presentations scheduled monthly beginning in February.

“Gents Bow, Ladies Know How” will be open to the public through May 23, 2015. The Monadnock Center’s regular hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 10 AM to 4 PM, and admission is $3.00 (free for Monadnock Center and Country Dance and Song Society members). The exhibit takes place in the historic Monadnock Center building in Peterborough, New Hampshire at 19 Grove Street.

Two local organizations, the Monadnock Center for History and Culture and the Monadnock Folklore Society, have partnered to develop this exhibit. Generous grant funding was received from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. In addition, the Animal Care Clinic-Monadnock has sponsored the exhibit—the owner is the grandson of the caller Duke Miller.

The Country Dance and Song Society was the inspiration for this exhibit—the idea arose as the Monadnock Folklore Society brainstormed how to participate in the celebration of the CDSS Centennial.

For more information call 603-924-3235 or visit http://www.MonadnockCenter.org.

The Monadnock Center for History and Culture is a community museum that has been dedicated to preserving and celebrating local history and culture since its founding in 1902. The Monadnock Folklore Society was founded in 1980 to increase the visibility of folk dance and music events in southern New Hampshire and provide educational services in the folk arts to the community.

Lisa Sieverts is an experienced project manager and facilitator, and owner of Facilitated Change. She is a longtime contra dancer and caller, and a regular caller at Nelson, NH’s Monday night dances. Lisa is a CDSS member and a member of the Monadnock Folklore Society’s board.

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Monadnock region of New Hampshire, named after Mount Monadnock