UPDATE 3/11: This dance is CANCELLED
WILLIAMSTOWN — North Berkshire Community Dance will hold its monthly contra dance on Saturday, March 14 — Karen Axelrod on piano and Dave Langford on fiddle will play traditional tunes with a swinging improvisational joy, and Liz Nelson will call, from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. at the Williamstown Community Preschool, with a lesson for beginners at 7:15.
Liz Nelson is a new voice on the contra scene, calling dances primarily in Massachusetts thus far. Already, she is known for her clear instruction, thoughtful programming and friendly stage presence. She will call this dance with Larks and Robins role terms, friendly and welcoming for new and experienced dancers alike.
Musicians Dave Langford and Karen Axelrod have been playing contras together for more than 30 years with energy and improvisational flair.
Karen plays Scottish and American folk events across the country and performs in the band Foxfire among others, and in Barley Moon with Dave Langford and Daron Douglas. Dave also performs in the Latterday Lizards with Kate Barnes and Bill Tomczak, blending New England folk music with influences from Irish music, French Canadian, ragtime, rock, Appalachian and Jazz.
Contra dancing has friendliness built in — everyone dances with everyone else. You can bring a partner or come alone and join in. Beginners are warmly welcome, and experienced dancers will find the group lively, especially later in the evening.
NBCD will also hold a snack potluck halfway through the dance, and everyone is welcome. (The school is a no-nuts zone, but anything else is welcome.)
*** We strongly encourage attendees to wash their hands frequently, to aid in slowing the seasonal spread of flu, and (eventually) covid-19. We have two bathrooms with sinks and soap in the entry hall. If you could stop in there as you arrive, that would be greatly appreciated! *** Please observe normal precautions against socializing when ill, by staying home if you feel coughy or sneezy. We’ll miss you this one time, but hope to have many opportunities to dance with you in the future.
North Berkshire Community Dance
Please come dance with us at North Berkshire Dance’s monthly contra dance on Saturday, February 8, at the Williamstown Community Preschool. Caller Andy Davis will open with beginners’ instruction at 7:30, leading right into our inclusive, happy dance from 7:45 to 10:30 p.m. Fiddler Annika Amstutz and pianist Becky Hollingsworth will lead an all-comers band. This month, the evening will start early with an optional potluck dinner at 6:30 PM. Bring a dish to share (no nuts, please).
NBCD will also hold a snack potluck halfway through the dance, and everyone is welcome. (The school is a no-nuts zone.) Monthly dances continue on second Saturdays. Admission is $12, or $5 for students and children, and $25 for families. For more info, visit us at northberkshiredance.org, or call 413-663-4479.
At our November 9th dance, with the renowned Will Mentor calling, we will be using “larks and ravens” role terms. For many, this is an opportunity to try something new. We hope you’ll come, and let us know what you think.
why “larks and ravens”? and why “gender role free”?
What is “Larks and Ravens”?
New terminology for a long-lived dance form, replacing “Gents and Ladies”, with non-gendered, non-hierarchical words. You’ve probably heard callers explaining that “these are just role names”, and you’ve probably met dancers who switch roles regularly. In a way, changing to non-gendered role terms is just catching up with the evolution of the living tradition.
How do I know whether I’m a Lark or a Raven?
You get to pick! If you’ve danced contra before, you’ll know that it’s done in pairs, as part of a larger group. The starting and ending position within each pair has one person on the left and the other on the right. Here’s a handy mnemonic: Lark on the Left, Raven on the Right You can dance either “lark” or “raven”, and no one need be confused (or care) about your choice.
Who is it good for?
Hopefully, everybody, but especially:
– parents teaching children
– dancers who want a better understanding of their partners’ experience
– people uncomfortable conforming to gender roles in daily life (and everyone in their community)
– anyone who wants to dance with a friend or relative or co-worker or new-dance-floor-acquaintance of whatever gender, without having to explain a thing.
Many contra dance communities across the country have either switched to, or are trying, the new role terms, and it’s good to know what’s going on in the larger world. For now, we’re just trying it out. We’ve met dancers on the floor here who prefer the new terms, but we (the dance organizers) have little personal experience. We’d like to gain experience, and definitely want to hear your opinion. Please come to the dance, and let us know what you think! We’ll have a simple exit poll where you can give as brief or elaborate an opinion as you like.
The dance in Williamstown is back after August vacation: Saturday, September 14th, 7:30 pm. 777 Main Street (Williamstown Community Preschool, formerly the United Methodist Church – next to the bank).
Annika Amstutz is a phenomenal fiddler (phiddler?) – have a listen. We’re hoping to debut significant improvements to the acoustics in the hall too. Please join us for a joyful evening!