Indiana Daily Student Logo

Contra group dances night away


0000-_I-522519916

By Casey Engelman



The gym at the Boys & Girls Club transformed into a scene reminiscent of barn and meetinghouses of colonial times Wednesday night. Banjos and fiddles were tuned and dancers changed into their dancing shoes.

The Bloomington Old-Time Music and Dance Group’s weekly contra dance session acted as preparation for the 34th Sugar Hill Dance Weekend, which is Friday and Saturday at the Ransburg Boy Scout Reservation.

Some attendees practiced fencing before the dance, so as foils and sabres were put away, instruments came out.

Eager dancers sat on the bleachers before going out on the dance floor and practicing spins and turns. Others chatted about the upcoming festival or how some dancers hadn’t missed a Wednesday dance night in 25 years.

“The band doesn’t stop playing until people stop dancing,” IU junior Adam Nichols said. “We’ll do like 14 or 18 hours of dancing this weekend.”

Nichols said he has been dancing for two years, but contra dance is open to all expertise levels. Bloomington resident Michalene Reilly attended Wednesday for the first time.

“I’m a noob who tried,” Reilly said. “My friend started doing this four years ago, and I wanted to get some exercise, so I decided to come.”

Contra dance originated in New England at the end of the 17th century as a fusion of French court and English dance styles.

Caller Keith Tuxhorn traveled from Austin, Texas, to call — provide dance step cues for the dancers — the practice and festival this weekend.

Tuxhorn has spent his five-year calling career traveling to Portland, St. Louis and Kansas City for contra events.

“When I go dancing myself, I ask the caller what dance it is when I like one,” he said. “That’s why I like being a caller, it’s like a recipe — a Cajun recipe that you can change up every time.”

Tuxhorn stepped up to the microphone and asked the dancers to form a line along the center of the gym. The live folk band cued up and Tuxhorn began to voice the moves to be performed: left hand star, one-time round and a do-si-do.

Dancers followed Tuxhorn’s call and threw in improvised turns and twirls along the way. With the close of each song, from “Blackbird Pie” to “Barn Mixer,” Tuxhorn reminded the group of contra’s sentiment.

“Contra dance is a social dance, we’ll meet a lot of people tonight,” he said. “So, grab a new partner, and let’s get going.”

0000-_I-847559927
A diverse crowd fills the gymnasium at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington. The Bloomington Old Time Music and Dance Group hosts contra dance sessions every week in Bloomington. Darryl Smith Buy Photos
0000-_I-1392674922
Jessica Bare shows her background in ballet at the contra dance Wednesday. The Bloomington Old Time Music and Dance Group hosts contra dance events weekly. Darryl Smith Buy Photos
0000-_I680673356
Trevor Dowitt spins IU graduate student Sara Brandy Wednesday during a contra dance session at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington. The Bloomington Old Time Music and Dance Group hosts the dance weekly. Darryl Smith Buy Photos
0000-_I330963991
Liz Pech and IU Junior Adam Nichols dance Wednesday at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington. The dance session is hosted weekly by the Bloomington Old Time Music and Dance Group. Darryl Smith Buy Photos
0000-_I1365069389
IU Sophomore Kaela Hawkins dances with Thomas Smith Wednesday at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington. The dance is hosted weekly by the Bloomington Old Time Music and Dance Group. Darryl Smith Buy Photos

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Indiana Daily Student.