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Contra Dance with Lake Effect and Margaret Matthews
Saturday, December 8 @ 7:30 pm - 11:00 pm$8 – $10
Lake Effect, blowing in from the Rochester area, features fiddler Matt Sloboda, guitarist Chuck Abell (also of the band Tempest), and saxophonist Rowan Wolf. Like their name, this band is powerful! Join them for an exploration of Irish and French-Canadian tunes, and an occasional swing tune or two with Chuck’s terrific vocals. With more than 35 years experience as dancer, musician (bass player with Wild Root String Band), and caller, Margaret Matthews has an easy-going, engaging style that gets everyone out on the dance floor for contras squares, and hoedowns. She’s taught dances up and down the East coast, from the Carolinas to Vermont, as well as the in Northwest and Canada. A workshop at 7:30 pm prepares newcomers for the dance that begins at 8:00 pm. There is no need to come with a dance partner, but please bring clean, soft-soled shoes to protect the wonderful dance floor. $10 general admission; $8 for students and members of Hands Four Dancers of Ithaca. Children under 12 free. More info: www.hands4dancers.org
Contra is easily learned, joyous folk dancing that arose in the 17th century from English, Scottish, and French styles. In colonial America, where it grew more boisterous, it was kept alive for centuries at social gatherings in small New England towns. Since the early 1970s (when it arrived in Ithaca), it has surged in popularity throughout the States and around the world, ever evolving. It is typically done to live music, with a line of dancers facing another line, but may also be danced in a circle or square, with “calls” similar to square dancing (do-si-do, swing). There are just a few simple steps and patterns, and each individual dance is briefly taught. Anyone who can walk can contra dance, although it can be peppy! Some dancers like fancy twirls and moves borrowed from swing or ballroom dance. The emphasis is on community: seasoned dancers are happy to help beginners of all ages and welcome newcomers. Contra dancing is a great way to enjoy superb live music, get good exercise, and meet friendly people. In the Ithaca area, Saturday contra dances open to all are sponsored by Hands Four Dancers of Ithaca about six times per year, and by the Cornell Contra Dance Club almost every month during the fall and spring. There’s a Tompkins County Country Dance almost every Friday out in Danby, and regular dances in Rochester, Binghamton, Syracuse, and Owego, as well as occasional square dances. Come give it a whirl!
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