On Nov. 5, the Salem College Contra Collaborators, an organization devoted to bringing contra dancing to the Salem community, hosted their first contra dance of the semester in Bryant Hall. They received a great turnout with many beginner-dancers joining in.
Contra dance is a form of folk dance similar to square dance, but performed in opposing lines with the dancers standing across from their partners. A caller teaches each dance before it is actually done to the music, giving the participants an idea of what to expect so that the movements can be easily executed. Once the dancers appear to have mastered a particular dance the caller may stop calling, leaving the dancers to enjoy the movement with music alone. The dances are usually done to live music, usually reels or jigs. Though the “lead” role is traditionally performed by the male dancers in the group, anyone can dance whichever role they prefer, or ask whomever they prefer to dance.
New participants most often find experienced dancers extremely friendly and helpful. First-time contra dancer Jessica Larmon remarked that, “I’ve never been contra dancing, so this was a new and fun experience. The music was great and it was fun meeting new people. The steps were confusing at times, but the more experienced dancers were friendly and kind enough to keep me from getting too lost. I will definitely be going again!”
The goal of the Salem College Contra Collaborators is to connect students to one another and to members of the greater Winston-Salem community through contra dance and to sponsor events made possible by the hard work and generous efforts of people coming together. Julia Schniedwind, a leading member of the Contra Collaborators, stated that, “We had an incredible turnout this month. Everyone appeared to be having a great time dancing and learning with one another. Contra dancing is something that anyone can do; it is nearly impossible to not smile from ear to ear while dancing. I encourage students to take advantage of the opportunity and attend one or two contra dances, who knows, you may love it!”
Though in past years the club has organized dances with the local contra group at Salem on the first Tuesdays of each month, dances this academic year have been moved to the first Sundays from 6-9p.m. Those interested can receive a free lesson before each dance at 5:30p.m. Salem students and faculty may participate in the dance for $3. The regular price for nonmembers is $10 and $6 for students. People of all ages and lifestyles, including children, are welcome.
Dates of future contra dances in Bryant Hall:
December 3 – Rushfest! (contra dance to DJ’d music)
April 8 – moved from April 3 because of Easter