Beginning in February, Country Dance*New York will be presenting both its weekly dances - American contra dancing and English country dancing - at the Church of the Village at 201 West 13th Street near Seventh Avenue, Manhattan. The church (previously known as Duane Hall) was for nearly 50 years the location for these dances until early 2010 when the hall was closed for renovation. During the past several years dances have been held at other locations.
To celebrate this return to Church of the Village, first-time attendees to a CD*NY dance will receive 50% off the admission price for either the February 2nd contra dance or the February 5th English country dance. Each first-timer will also get a free pass to come another time.
A contra dance for dancers at all levels will take place on Saturday, February 2nd from 8pm to 10:45pm, with a contra beginner's workshop from 7:30pm to 8pm. High energy, live music will be provided by the band, Black River Ironworks with Jonah Sidman (fiddle), Corey Walters (flute and mandolin), and Michael Friedman (piano), performing the best of traditional Irish, Quebecois, and old time music. The callers Joe De Paolo and Emma Gorin will lead the proceedings. No previous experience is required. The caller walks everyone through the patterns of each dance.
An English country dance (ECD) (think of the dance scenes in Jane Austen films and books, and music by Mozart, Handel, or Corelli) will be held on Tuesday, February 5th from 7:30pm to 10pm, with a beginner's session teaching basic terminology and movements from 7pm to 7:30pm. The dance band, The Dressed Ship, with Tom Phillips (fiddle), Bill Peek (piano), and Jody Kruskal (Anglo concertina), will provide lush, live music blending a simple and elegant presentation of the tunes with improvisational fireworks. The highly regarded and popular caller, Beverly Francis, will walk everyone through the patterns of each dance.
Contra dancing started in New England in the 1700s, but the modern version is a far cry from the Virginia Reel-type dancing done in schools years ago. The current dancing is done in long lines of dancers facing their partners and moving briskly and joyfully in patterns to live music, sometimes changing partners. There is plenty of swinging your partner and lots of fun, flirting and eye contact.
English country dancing is choreographed community dancing, with repertoire ranging from court dances of the 1600s and 1700s to dances composed in the 20th and 21st centuries. English country dance is a participatory art form, welcoming to novices and experienced dancers alike. At the start of each dance, dancers invite one another to be partners. After centuries of development, it is hard to categorize and can vary from elegant to energetic, from playful to solemn, and from stately to boisterous.
Admission to each dance is $15 general public, and $12 for full-time students with ID. For more information visit the Country*Dance New York website www.cdny.org or call The Dancephone at 212.459.4080. Attendees are asked to bring a separate pair of clean, soft-soled shoes for dancing.
Traveling to the Church of the Villlage, 201 West 13th Street, near Seventh Avenue via subway: Take the 1, 2, or 3 train to 14th Street.