When we had lived through one glorious spring and a golden, fragrant summer at the lodge on the North Island I began to hear about the annual Folk Weekend which took place in the lodge building affectionately called 'the barn' each November. Workshops were held throughout the weekend in a variety of disciplines including theatre for children, bodhran (a Celtic drum) lessons, and instruction in making natural remedies from local flora. We took part in many of the activities during Folk Weekend, but the highlight of the weekend, at least for me, was the Saturday night Contra dance. I have consulted a Contra Dancing website for help in explaining what a Contra Dance is for the uninitiated:
"A caller, usually working with a group of live musicians, guides new and experienced dancers alike through a variety of dances. A dancer and his or her partner dance a series of figures, or moves, with each other and with another couple for a short time. They then repeat the same figures with another couple, and so on. The figures are similar to those of old-time square dancing. The figures are combined in different ways for each different dance.
The caller teaches each dance before it is actually done to the music. This gives everyone an idea of what to expect so the movements can be easily executed. The caller leads the dances while they are being done to music, so dancers are able to perform each movement to the music. 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."
People of all ages and lifestyles, including children, are welcome. Contra dances are a place where people from many walks of life come together to dance and socialize. Dancers often go out to a restaurant after the dance, have a potluck before or during the dance, or hang out with musicians in jam sessions and song circles."
|Our friend Mike and I getting the timing right!|
When I was searching for information on Contra Dancing I came across a few videos - and like I said previously, Contra dancing is more about participation than performance. I soon moved on to some videos of Scottish Country Dancing, and they proved to be a bit more enjoyable to watch. The one I include here reminds me very much of the dancing I used to watch Mrs. Neville and her troupe do in Lakeside Park during the Highland Games all those years ago.