David's Blog

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

Cool Hip Dancers

Musician Noah Van Norstrand is part of the Great Bear Trio with his brother, Andrew, and their mother. They play traditional tunes and they play some sets of original and untraditional material They also sponsor the Great Bear Groove, a lively dance event over Memorial Day weekend where I'll be calling this year.

 Noah created a wonderful animation aimed at the "cool, hip dancers" who flock to the center set of some dance halls and will only dance there. In it, he skewers some of the attitudes that make some of us callers cringe. I love that this was created by someone who is not a curmudgeonly old-timer but rather by someone who is very involved in today's dance scene and is clearly a keen observer. Thanks, Noah!


A Night To Remember

In the video about the Norwich contra dance with Northern Spy, musician Rick Barrows muses, "Sometimes it's ordinary and sometimes it's magical; you just have to keep showing up." Saturday night was one of those nights we'll all remember. Here's a link to the video footage from that night.

Continue Reading

David Millstone, Dance Caller

Lebanon, NH


Email David