June 10th – Delightful Dance

Join us this Saturday, June 10th, for a delightful community contra dance!  Maggie McRae will call (teach), starting the evening with easy dances accessible to novices and families with children.  The hall will fill with lively, engergetic dancers, new skils will be taught as needed, and by the end, we’ll have danced the old chestnut, “Chorus Jig”, to the traditional reel of the same name.  (Trust us, Chorus Jig is fun! That’s why people have been dancing it since 1820, at least.)  Come alone, or with friends.
Music will be provided by two masters of New England’s traditional dance music:  Laurie Indenbaum on fiddle, and Mary Cay Brass on keyboard.  Mary Cay has been a foundational performer and teacher in the traditional dance and music community for many years. In addition to teaching choral singing, she has supplied a vital pulse in various beloved dance bands, including “The Greenfield Dance Band” with David Kaynor, and “Airdance” with Rodney Miller.  Laurie Indenbaum has been fiddling for dances in Vermont and surrounding states since 1976, with many fine callers and bands, including “Applejack” and “The Full Catastrophe”.

Location: the Community Hall of the First Congregational Church. 906 Main Street, Williamstown, MA  
Time: 7:30 – 10 PM
Admission: pay-as-you-can.  $12 – $20 suggested.  Barter (especially help with cleanup) also welcome.
Covid Policy: we continue to require proof of vaccination and masking for this June 10th dance.  Please be prepared to show proof of vaccination at the door, if you have not previously registered at our dance.  (Pre-registration form here:  https://tinyurl.com/NorthBerkshireDancePreReg)  Having a spare mask to change into can be really helpful – just like shirts, masks get a bit dampish from dancing in warm weather, and a fresh, dry one is a pleasure.

Speaking of Covid policies, ours is potentially up for revision.  Would you contribute your thoughts, please, in this survey?  https://tinyurl.com/NBCDCovidSurvey2023  We had planned to launch this survey last month, but then one of our key organizers came down with Covid (he’s recovered now), and we had a bit of a scramble to put on the May dance without him.  He reports that Covid is distinctly unpleasant, even with Paxlovid.  Since he stayed home (model comportment) we didn’t have to worry he would spread Covid at the dance — but it was a good reminder that,  A. we miss people when they’re away and, B. Covid’s not gone and we do still need to think about how we want to manage it.

We hope to see you at this dance, and many more!  

Community Dance and Open Band: May 13th, 2023

Remember how much fun we were having in early 2020? (Link to video on Facebook.)

Join us for the sequel on May 13th, 2023! We’re having another open band dance. As before, we’ll have calling by Andy Davis, and the band led Becky Hollingsworth and (this time) Susan Conger on fiddle.

The dancing will, as usual, feature a gentle opening suitable for beginners and children at 7:30 PM, then progress into somewhat zestier dances after 8:30, including the old chestnut Chorus Jig.

Admission: pay-what-you-can, $12 – $20 suggested

Location: 906 Main Street, Williamstown, MA 01267, in the community hall of the First Congregational Church

Time: 7:30 – 10:30 PM, Saturday, May 13th

Covid Precautions: Masks and proof of vaccination required. If you’re pre-registered, you won’t have to show your card at the door. Here’s a link to the pre-registration form:  https://tinyurl.com/NorthBerkshireDancePreReg  Performers may go unmasked *if* they’ve had a negative rapid test that day — this includes open band members while in the band area, but masks are required while dancing and elsewhere in the hall.

Anyone with an acoustic instrument is welcome to join the band. Here’s a list of the tunes we’ll play: https://northberkshiredance.org/tune-list-for-open-band-may-13-2023/ Chorus Jig is a little tricky — sheet music available in the “New England Fiddler’s Repertoire” or the “Fiddler’s Fakebook”. Note the ABCB form of Chorus Jig differs from the standard AABB of most contra dance repertoire.

April 8th Dance — Beginner Special!

Worried your dance skills are rusty? Have a friend or family member who is scared to dance? Come to our April 8th community contra dance in Williamstown, bringing your hesitant friends, and your enthusiastic friends, too!

Our caller this month will be Paul Rosenberg, who specializes in leading dance events welcoming to complete novices, families with children, and people who are really worried about the whole idea. The evening will feature lots of simple dances appropriate for novices and families, gradually building the dancers’ skill levels and confidence while having fun.

Caller: Paul Rosenberg

Musicians: Tony Pisano, Eric Buddington, Patrician Kernan (Two fabulous locals, and one spcialist in the caller’s repertoire.)

Location: the community hall of the First Congregational Church, at 906 Main Street, Williamstown, MA

Time: 7:30 – 10PM, Saturday April 8th

Admission: pay what you can; $10 – $20 suggested

Covid Precautions: Masks and proof of vaccination required

Come Dance with us on March 11th, 2023!

Starting with an introductory lesson at 7:30 p.m, Quena Crain will call a program welcoming to families with children (and unaccompanied adults, too). The later half of the evening will feature dances more likely to appeal to those of us who are still vigorous after 9 PM. This year, every event will include the old chestnut, Chorus Jig.

Pictures of our performers: Quena, George, and Ma.rko
Music will be supplied by master musicians George Wilson and Marko Packard. George has been lifting dancers’ feet with fiddle tunes in the Northern fiddle tradition for half a century; Marko has played guitar, flute, and saxophone with a variety of popular contra dance bands for over two decades.
Admission is pay what you can, $10 to $20 suggested.
Masks and proof of covid vaccination required. Optional pre-registration form here: https://tinyurl.com/NorthBerkshireDancePreReg

February 11th Dance, Coming Soon

Community contra dance in Williamstown, MA, Saturday, February 11th. All welcome; introduction for beginners at 7:30pm, flowing right into the main event. Admission fee self-determined, $10 to $20 suggested.

Masks and proof of covid vaccination required. Optional pre-registration form here: https://tinyurl.com/NorthBerkshireDancePreReg

Dave Eisenstadter will call, with music by George Wilson and Selma Kaplan.

January 14th Dance

We’re thrilled to resume our second Saturday monthly series on Saturday January 14, at a new location in the community hall of the First Congregational Church, 906 Main Street in Williamstown, MA.

The night will begin with a brief introductory lesson at 7:30, by caller Andy Davis. The early part of the evening will be particularly welcoming to beginning dancers and families with children. Music will be provided by Arthur Davis on keyboard and banjo, with Cedar Stanistreet on fiddle.

Our Covid policy will follow that of the Friends of the Greenfield Dance, with masks and proof of Covid-19 vaccination required. Optional pre-registration at https://tinyurl.com/NorthBerkshireDancePreReg will help reduce time in lines at the door.
Admission is pay-what-you-can, $5 – $20 suggested.

Williamstown Community Contra Resuming in January, 2023

Come dance with us on January 14th, 2023!
Andy Davis will call, starting with a brief introductory lesson at 7:30 p.m. The early part of the evening will be particularly welcoming to beginning dancers and families with children; at the end, we’ll have Chorus Jig. (What’s Chorus Jig? Read on to the end!)

New in 2023

New location: the community hall of the First Congregational Church, which is at 906 Main Street, Williamstown, MA.

Vaccination & Mask Requirement: unfortunately, some elements that make our dances wonderful community events are also great for spreading respiratory disease. Luckily, it’s possible to have most of the fun, and minimize the misery, with suitable precautions. To this end we’ll be requiring everyone in the hall to wear masks and show proof of Covid-19 vacination. We’ll follow the rules outlined by the Friends of the Greenfield Dance: http://www.friendsofgreenfielddance.org/covid-19-policy/ , and we’ll have an optional pre-registration system to help ease lines at the door.

Optional pre-registration: Save time the first time you attend our dance by pre-registering with your vaccination status here!

New Admission Fee Schedule — Pay What You Can: Pre-pandemic, we put a lot of effort into setting admission fees to both cover expenses and also let as many people as possible join us. Charging different amounts by category got complicated, and still didn’t work for everyone, so we’ve decided to let you decide for yourself how much to contribute. You may choose to contribute by helping with practical matters, like checking people in at the door, or sweeping the floor at the break. However, we do use money to pay our performers (though never quite enough for their specialized skills) and to pay rent for the hall, so contributions from $5 to $15 per person are most welcome.

New Dance of the Year — Chorus Jig! Admittedly, Chorus Jig is old, not new, but dancing it every month here in Williamstown is new for us. Chorus Jig is a dance with a name, and a history, and a reputation for boisterous fun.

Dance November 6th – and More Dancing in 2023

North Berkshire Community Dance is coordinating a dance at the Clark Art Institute’s Free Sunday on Nov 6th.  Paul Rosenberg will call several short sets of family friendly traditional dances, with a harvest theme to match the overarching event.  Music by Eric Buddington and friends. Masks supplied for Covid safety.
Bring your friends and family, wander the galleries, take a hike, try your hand at drawing, and join us for the dance!

Separately, NBCD is planning to resume our regular second Saturday monthly dance schedule in January 2023.

7/23/2022 Update – NBCD remains in a holding pattern

Dear North Berkshire Dance Community

The organizing committee of North Berkshire Community Dance met last Sunday and decided to return to a holding pattern regarding when we will try to restart dancing. We do not anticipate returning to scheduled indoor 2nd Saturday dances before the end of this year. We will continue to evaluate the pandemic situation, and be very much guided by the experiences of larger and more active organizations in the regional and national contra dance community as they lead the way.

Factors in this decision:

  1. As organizations around the country have begun dancing again, we are seeing a lot of starting and stopping, disagreement and even acrimony about what are appropriate Covid precautions and policies, and in some unfortunate cases, records of dances becoming Covid “super-spreading” events. No doubt that people are ecstatic to be dancing again under responsible Covid policies and we would love to follow their lead, but to our thinking, we have not reached a point where we feel confident that we can organize contra dancing that is joyful and safe.
  2. We decided that it is not useful to keep trying, on a month to month basis, to out-think this pandemic. Every time we think we have figured out what the pandemic is doing, it pulls a new rabbit out of its hat. We want to wait until we feel confident that when we announce the resumption of monthly 2nd Saturday dances, we will not need to be in constant Covid monitoring mode and always prepared to cancel.
  3. We are a small organizing committee and we need every one of us to be enthusiastically on-board and ready to pull together when we announce our first dance. Even as we started making tentative plans to organize our first dances earlier in the summer, it was never clear that we had the internal consensus that we must have to be successful. Thankfully, we have now recognized this, and are content with this decision to let other dance organizations lead the way for us.

We will continue meeting as an organizing committee on a regular basis to monitor and discuss the situation in the broader dance community. We will be getting out to try dancing in nearby communities, ourselves, both to see how they’re doing, and to nurture our own love of and connection with social dancing. We encourage you to do the same, to the extent that you are personally comfortable. Maybe we will see some of you there!

With gratitude to all of you in our dance community!

North Berkshire Community Dance
  Pat Dunlavey – president
  Eric Buddington – treasurer
  Doone Mackay – secretary
  Kate Abbot
  Nick Adams
  John Seto