David's Blog

Middle School Dances!

Two middle school dances within a week, no band, just me and my iPod at the Hulbert Outdoor Center, which hosts groups throughout the year. I'm a regular on the program for several of these schools, and it's fun to return to the same venue with some of the same adults—teachers or HOC staff—and a bunch of kids who are always full of energy.

The programs didn't vary a lot. Both times, I had 75 minutes, and in that time we did nine dances. The trick is to keep things moving. Once you have kids up and dancing, keep the momentum going. In recent years, I've started adding in one line dance with no instruction in the middle of the program. This serves as a breather for kids and adults who want to take and lets others have fun with a dance they already know

Middle School Dance Program
Traffic Jam
The Sweets of May
The Snowball
Cupid Shuffle or Cotton Eye Joe
Polka Contry
Simple Square
the Fan Dance
Un, Deux, Trois, Poussez or Sasha

Old Timers Talk

Folks interested in the history of contra dancing in New England and upstate New York in the post-World War II era may enjoy watching a series of six videos from this year's Dance Flurry.

I was the moderator, and I started out by commenting on how strange it felt to be part of a panel billed as "Old Timers Talk." Panelists included Dudley Laufman and Bob McQuillen, New Hampshire artists well known in the traditional dance community and each a recipient of the CDSS Lifetime Contribution Award; Ralph Sweet, longtime Connecticut dance caller and leader of a singing squares workshop this summer at Timber Ridge; and Bill and Andy Spence, musician (hammered dulcimer, Fennig's All Stars) and organizer (Andy's Front Hall, and founder of the Old Songs Festival). Lots of good stories!

Joan Pelton dies; created "Chestnuts" moniker

Readers here probably know of my fondness for the "chestnuts," those classic contra dances that have been at the core of the traditional repertoire. Years ago, I wrote a piece, "So Why Are They Called Chestnuts?" which was later included in the Cracking Chestnuts book and which can be found online. The person responsible for that term entering our dance vocabulary was Joan Pelton, who died on February 15, 2012. She is someone who made a difference.

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Zonker & Square Dance

Today's Doonesbury is a Flashback to an earlier strip, which reminds us that Zonker is well aware of the social benefits of square dancing. Enjoy!



Dancing at BIDA

I called last night at the BIDA dance in Boston, my first time calling for this Sunday evening series about which I've heard mny good things. It's not that I'd been playing hard to get, just that an invitation hadn't come along before. I was delighted to be invited, and even happier at the end of the evening.

BIDA is the acronym for Boston Intergenerational Dance Advocates, an unwieldy name so you readily understand why they go by their nickname. It's a young series, founded in 2008, and unlike some other new dance events, this one had an intentional goal from the start. The organizers were looking to fill a niche in the already very full Boston area dance scene; they wanted to create "an organization which would strengthen community ties and provide opportunities for dancers, musicians, callers, and dance organizers to share knowledge and energy between generations." They've succeeded.

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David Millstone, Dance Caller

Lebanon, NH


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