Our Mission

Tapestry Folkdance Center creates opportunities for participation in the joys of dance and music from around the world.

Creating opportunities for particpating in the joys of dance and music from around the world.

Creating opportunities for particpating in the joys of dance and music from around the world.

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This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

Upcoming Contra Events

  • Contra Dance with Bob Walser & Friends and Robin Nelson
    April 19, 2014 (7:30 pm - 11:00 pm)
    (Contra)

    Saturday Contra Dances

    Time: 7:30-11pm

    Beginner walk-through lesson 7:30-8pm. Live music from 8-11pm!

    Admission: $10, $8 members, $7 students, free admission to kids 13 and under

    In a contra dance, the dance figures are similar to those of Old-time...

  • Contra Dance with Contratopia and David Kirchner
    April 26, 2014 (7:30 pm - 11:00 pm)
    (Contra)

    Saturday Contra Dances

    Time: 7:30-11pm

    Beginner walk-through lesson 7:30-8pm. Live music from 8-11pm!

    Admission: $10, $8 members, $7 students, free admission to kids 13 and under

    In a contra dance, the dance figures are similar to those of Old-time...

  • Contra Dance with Greenwood Tree and Ted Hodapp
    May 03, 2014 (7:30 pm - 11:00 pm)
    (Contra)

    Saturday Contra Dances

    Time: 7:30-11pm

    Beginner walk-through lesson 7:30-8pm. Live music from 8-11pm!

    Admission: $10, $8 members, $7 students, free admission to kids 13 and under

    In a contra dance, the dance figures are similar to those of Old-time...

  • Techno Contra with DJ Dr. Bob and David Kirchner
    May 08, 2014 (7:00 pm - 10:30 pm)
    (Contra)
  • Contra Dance with The Gritpickers and Beau Farmer
    May 10, 2014 (7:30 pm - 11:00 pm)
    (Contra)

    Saturday Contra Dances

    Time: 7:30-11pm

    Beginner walk-through lesson 7:30-8pm. Live music from 8-11pm!

    Admission: $10, $8 members, $7 students, free admission to kids 13 and under

    In a contra dance, the dance figures are similar to those of Old-time...

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Contra
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Beginners welcome, no partner necessary. Newcomers are always welcome. Come once, come now and then -- or give in to addiction for these fabulous dances and come every week!

Saturday Contra Dances

Time: 7:30 - 11:00 pm
  7:30 - 8:00 Dance Basics Lesson
  8:00 -11:00 Live Music
Cost: $10 general admission /$8 for Tapestry members / $7 students / Free to ages 13 and under (must be supervised by an adult)

In a contra dance, a leader known as a caller teaches for 30 minutes before the music for the dance begins at 8pm. During this introductory “walk-through” period, participants learn the dance by walking through the steps and formations, following the caller’s instructions.

The dance figures are similar to those of Old-time square dancing except the figures are made up of lines of leaders and followers facing each other. These dances are lively social, easy to learn, and because each dance may last 5min, they can be aerobic. Although you will dance with a partner, it isn't necessary to come with one. All dances are taught and are usually done in "long-way sets" (partners facing in long lines down the hall). Please check out the calendar for a listing of Contra bands and callers. Many of the regular Tapestry contra bands play Old-time music (similar to bluegrass), but the music on any given Saturday contra may reflect music traditions from New England, French Canadian, Irish, Scottish, Cape Breton and modern compositions.

April Dances:


Saturday, April 5

       Caller: Beau Farmer.  Beau is a favorite with Tapestry musicians and dancers alike for his friendly teaching, variety of dances, and some surprises throughout the evening.

          Music: Fiddle Buddies.  Fiddler Ken Steffenson has mentored Xander Nielson since Xander was about 10 years old.  Now, years later, they are a fine fiddle team.  Add rhythm section and go!

 

Thursday, April 10TECHNO CONTRA.

       The Tapestry Second Thursday Techno Contra program keeps growing, this month featuring music programmed by DJ Anne-Marie, with Tapestry favorite Robin Nelson calling.  Lights by Marc Scovill.  Come try Techno with us!  A new way to have big fun dancing.

 

Saturday, April 12

          This weekend is Tapestry’s annual CALL OF THE LOON spring festival of non-stop music and dancing with nationally known bands.  See description elsewhere in the Tapestry online newsletter.

 

Saturday, April 19

          Caller: Robin Nelson, a Tapestry favorite who has been teaching and calling nationally since 1984.  She will likely surprise us with a mix of dances tonight and perhaps some singing calls as well.

          Music: Bob Walser and Friends. Bob is a Tapestry stalwart and former board member who plays energetic piano, guitar, accordion and banjo.  He will be joined tonight by three delightful players from up north:  Mark Boggie and Erin and Jeanne O’Neill.  Sure to be a good time!

 

Saturday, April 26

       Caller: David Kirchner.  David has been calling contra and square dances for over 20 years as a mainstay of dance communities in Washington DC and St. Louis.  He has been the featured caller at many national dance events and is happy to be based now in the Twin Cities.

       Music:  Contratopia.  These four great players, Patrice Pakiz and Pat O’Loughlin from the Twin Cities and John Goodin and Erik Sessions from Decorah, Iowa, don’t get to Tapestry nearly often enough for their many fans among the dancers.  Do not miss!

 

Check out a video about why people contra dance:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7m9EGS4iiOg&feature=share

Check out our videos of Tapestry Contra dances:

Check out Tapestry's Techno Contra Night below!

1rsw_0773 1rsw_0780 1rsw_0789  1rsw_0785



A Note from a Contra Dance Caller PDF Print E-mail
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What, exactly, does a contra dance caller do?

A caller plans and runs the dancing portion of an evening of contra dance. It's an art and craft that includes:

- Efficiently and effectively teaching beginners before the start of the evening of dance

- Selecting dances that are appropriate to the level of the dancers present that evening: generally easy at first to help assimilate any newcomers and yet still fun so as not to bore the experienced dancers, then, responding to the "vibe" to gauge and select more challenging dances if they are called for

- Selecting a variety of dances for the evening that incorporate a diverse set of movements, mood and feel

- Working with the musicians 1) to establish the right tempo for the dances: often slower at first, but then faster if desired; 2) to suggest musical styles that may best fit particular dances (for example, for jigs or reels, smooth or bouncy, etc.); and 3) to smoothly begin and end each dance

- Establishing a rapport with the dancers and musicians to create a warm, inviting and enthusiastic atmosphere

- Teaching each dance effectively with clear instructions and minimal, efficient use of words (teaching is done as needed---with advanced dancers, some dances do not have to be taught)

- Calling each movement timely and succinctly so as to provide the dancers with "just in time" cues and yet not interfere with the music

- If the skill level allows, calling in such a way as to train the dancers to perform each sequence of moves without the caller's help. This allows for un-obscured music.

- Listening to feedback from musicians and dancers and making adjustments as necessary (different tempo, more or less instruction, more or less calling, incorporating preferred movement, etc.)

How does it all come together?

A contra dance can be thought of as a triangle of energy with the three vertices being the musicians, the dancers and the caller. Magical evenings occur when all three come together, feeding off of each others' energy to raise and sustain an atmosphere of fun and joy. The caller's role in this is paramount. Good music and dancers without a good caller may not be magical. Poor teaching, lack of rapport or inappropriately selected dances can lead to frustration. But a good caller can make even new dancers feel like they are good, and by working with the musicians to match music to dances, set the right tempo, and feed off the energy of everyone in the hall, the caller can help make magic.

-Beau Farmer

 
Contra Dance Roots PDF Print E-mail
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Where does contra dance come from and how did it get here? 
by Roger Schaffhausen

Looking in the dictionary 'contra' is a Latin preposition meaning "against" . So did it come from the 'Contras' in Nicaragua to show their opposition to the Sandinistas?  Or was it from lawyers who use the term 'Contra' which is used  in legal citations? Last but not least could it have been accountants where a 'Contra payment" is made in cases where a customer is also a supplier and a payment owed is offset against a payment due. Fortunately it came from none of these!

There are many theories as to how Contra dancing came about and how it got it's name. I will present only two of them.

1)  The precursor to Contra dancing was English Country Dancing which became popular in Queen Elizabeth I's  court in the late 16th century. By the end of the 17th century English country dancing had gained a certain legitimacy. What might have happened next is described by James Hutson in his article "A Capsule Chronicle of Contradancing, Part One," from the Fall 1994 issue of Contra Corners, the newsletter of the California Dance Co-operative:  The French, who thought that they invented country dancing (as well as anything else culturally significant), and who were miffed at the notion that the English should receive credit for anything, converted the name 'country dance' to French contredans (which conveniently translates as 'opposites dance'), then turned around and claimed that the English term was a corruption of the French! Later, the French term evolved in the young U.S.A. into "contra dance." 1

2) So why did the French corrupt it to "contre" or "contra"? Is it really only because that sounds like "country"? Or is it because the word means "across" and that is the formation used? ... I maintain that both theories are correct: The French corrupted "country dance" and the English reimported the word, but in the process it came to be applied only to the longways formation, and THAT was because of the meaning "across" for "contre".2  

Contra dances crossed the pond and were fashionable in the United States until the early to mid-19th century, when they were supplanted in popularity by square dances and couple dances. By the late 19th century, square dances too had fallen out of favor, except in rural areas. When squares were revived (around 1925 to 1940, depending on the region), contra dances were generally not included. In the 1930s and 1940s, contra dances appear to have been done only in small towns in widely scattered parts of northeastern North America and particularly northern New England. Ralph Page almost single-handedly maintained the New England tradition in the 30’s and the 40’s.3   Ralph started calling contras, almost by accident. He was playing fiddle in an orchestra when he had to substitute for a caller who had come down with laryngitis. That day was December 5, 1930. From that beginning, he rose to the top of his field as an Eastern contra caller, becoming one of the country's first full-time professional callers in 1938. Ralph kept contra going in the northeast until it was revitalized in the 1950’s and 1960’s  particularly by Ted Sannella and Dudley Laufman.4  Contra dancing found it's way to Minneapolis in the late 1970's with the start of Saltari in 1977. Saltari was the forerunner of Tapestry which started about 5 years later. 5

So the tradition is carried on at Tapestry on most Saturday evenings, come with or without a partner and beginners are always welcomed. For more info on contra, a good primer is put out by the Chattahoochee Country Dancers at http://contradance.org/html/new_dancer_info.php 

1 Why the name 'contra dance'?  Created and maintained by Gary Shapiro
2 Why is it Called Contra Dance? Copyright 1996-2004 Leslie Hyll_-Daniel Ludecking
3 Phantom ranch.net, folkdance, teachers
4 Contra Dancing, Wikipedia
5 Ed Stern, co-founder of Saltari

 


 
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