Fairbanks community will host dance workshop over Winter Dance Weekend

Rebecca Lay calls for a contra dance event and is invited as the guest caller for the Winter Dance Weekend Feb. 1-3, 2013. Photo provided by Gary Newman.

Rebecca Lay calls for a contra dance event and is invited as the guest caller for the Winter Dance Weekend Feb. 1-3, 2013. Photo provided by Gary Newman.

Fernanda Chamorro/Sun Star Reporter
January 29, 2012

For those folks who enjoy “toe-tappin’, foot-stompin’, shoe-shufflin’, heel-clickin’, booty-shakin’” and fun, the Nor’easter Contra Dance band aims to bring this and more to UAF and the Fairbanks community this Winter Dance Weekend. They are invited all the way from Boston by the Contra Borealis Dancers and the University ContraDancers.

Contra dance involves couples moving in different styles while maintaining lines or a square with the rest of the group of dancers. The style evolved as the French mixed their court dances and English country dances in the late 17th century.

These events are known for being family-friendly and offer an opportunity for beginners to learn easily by providing an instructor, which is called a “caller.” Rebecca Lay from Brattleboro, Vt. is invited to be the guest caller and will be providing clear instructions before each dance. “Rebecca is expert with her clear instructions and keeping everyone having a good time,” said Gary Newman, a founding member of Celtic Confusion, one of the longest running Celtic music bands in Fairbanks and a member of the contra dance community since 1989.

Max Newman, a mandolin and guitar player for Nor’easter, was born and raised in Fairbanks where he grew a love for contra dance from his dad. He moved to Boston for college in 2003, but he is excited to return and perform. “Fairbanks has a notably vibrant contra dance scene,” he commented. “So having a group of fun-loving dancers is a great way to start.”

Max Newman said he would sit on the sidelines reading, but he “suddenly realized that dancing and playing for dances was a heckuva lot of fun.”

The Winter Dance Weekend will start off Friday Feb. 1 in the Pioneer Park Dance Hall at night. The second day will take place in the UAF Wood Center Conference rooms with three daytime workshops Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. and a dance will end the night in the Wood Center beginning at 7:30 p.m. The Winter Dance Weekend will end on Sunday night with a Nor’easter concert in the College Coffeehouse.

Weekend rates including all dances and workshops, not including the concert, will be $30 for students and $50 for non-students. Individually, Friday and Saturday dances will be $10 for students and $15 for non-students. Saturday workshops will each be $5 for students and $10 for non-students. The concert on Sunday will be $10.

The contra dance community is excited about this weekend and Max put it best, “Of course, we’re going to be coming extra excited anyway, because, well, it’s Alaska.”

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