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April 30, 2007 We had the opportunity to dance on the other side of the country last week... in San Francisco! The Bay Area has a strong dance community, with efforts to boost attendance in both numbers and in diversity of age... and it was very evident that whatever they did for the April 21st 3rd Saturday dance at St Paul's Church in San Francisco WORKED. We didn't have any personal experience to make the comparison, but the word on the dance floor was WOW, so many dancers and SO MANY YOUNG PEOPLE! We loved the band and the caller, and the energy on the floor... a great mix of experienced dancers making it easy and fun for the beginner's. I hope the trend continues!
April 2007 It looks like the dream of organizing some community contradances in our area is becoming a reality! We've helped put together a community dance at the Turner Elementary, have two dances booked (one in Wayne and one in Vienna) this summer, and have the possibilty of a Wayne dance in June! How exciting to see dreams come true! Now, we want to cultivate a love for dancing and experiencing community & music. One way we've thought of is to teach basic dances to school aged children after school. Children are truly the dancers of the future, and when children are interested in an activity the parents are more likely to follow suit.

Southern and Central Maine offer many venues for folk dancing, usually several in any given weekend. These range from contradance to English dancing, to international folk dancing. Often times they are held in community buildings or grange halls~ wherever there is enough room for a hundred or more dancers and a stage or alcove for the band and caller. Check out the DEFFA web site for regular listings... it's amazing how many there are to choose from! If only I could attend them all, but of course I have to choose.

Most of us, myself included, have our favorite dance. What makes one dance stand out ahead of another? Energy is probably the first word that comes to mind and this begins with the organizers. They are the ones who envision their hall with dancers present, they hear the music and see the action before anything ever takes place. These folks are the ones who book the bands and callers, and get the flyers out. None of it has to be flashy or commercialized. My personal favorite dance has held that spot in my heart since I started contradancing in the early 1990's and it just gets better every time I go. The hall is nice enough, there's no stage for the band, and it's definitely not on the way to anywhere. But the organizers way back in the day had a vision, and poured their energy into building this dance up in such a way that the vision has been carried on, and the energy of that person is still talked about. The dance is in North Whitefield, and the name I continue to hear is Ted Sanella. I never met Ted, but I imagine him to be a wonderful balance of energy & drive, caring & sharing, laughter and stories. The folks now organizing that dance have those same qualities of character and I think that's what draws me there as often as I can get there. I feel a true sense of community at that dance and it always lifts my spirits when I'm feeling a little discouraged about something.

We have a short term goal to organize a dance here in our community sometime this year. We have a lot to consider... where to hold the dance, creating flyers, booking the band and the caller, getting the word out in advance, inviting dancing friends to help out teaching, having some refreshments, and selecting a date that does not interfere with other regular dances. A lot of time and personal energy go into preparing to play and to call, and to learn about organizing a dance so that we can fill in as much as possible whenever needed. Long term, we would like to start a regular dance series here in our community. Energy... it's a wonderful thing when it's focused and directed, and shared with others who have the same vision... it's how things happen!



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