‘Contra’ dance slated in Eagle Saturday
EAGLE – Families and couples of all ages will get a chance to go back in time to celebrate Valentine’s weekend as their great-grandparents might have done. The fine art of Contra dancing, a form of American folk dance, circa 1800, makes a comeback at the Eagle County Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall from 5:30-9 p.m. Saturday.
Starting at 5:30 p.m., the event kicks off with an old-fashioned chili dinner, at a nominal fee, to benefit the youth group at First Lutheran Church of Gypsum. The Contra dancing will follow with an admission of $8 for adults, $5 for children, or $25 for families. A “Kid’s Corral” (a supervised play station for children), is also planned.Musicians Dave and Julee Kramer of Eagle are the impetus behind bringing Contra dance to Eagle County. The Kramers lead the Bluegrace Mountain Band, which will provide the music for the night of dancing.
“I remember as a kid my grandfather talking about life on the planes of Eastern Colorado,” said Dave, an elementary school music teacher. “The neighbors would bring their instruments, families would all bring food to share and someone would call out the moves to a dance. I always wished I could go back in time to see something like that, or at the very least recreate the event for my children.”In the Contra, a “caller” teaches several dances to the couples, who form a set of two or more parallel lines running the length of the hall. Each of the dances consists of a sequence that ends with the couples’ progression up or down the set.
Featured caller for Saturday’s dance is Christ Kermiet, who is one of the premiere callers in the United States. Kermiet recently received the Westword Best of Denver Award for Best Dance Caller. He has been featured at numerous festivals, workshops and dance events across the country. He teaches traditional American squares, contras and couple dances with names like “Dive For the Oyster,” “Oxbow Loop,” the “Denver Wagon Wheel,” and the “Rocking Horse Schottische.””Traditional dances, like the Contra, have been tenacious in their need for live music. That’s simply part of the excitement of the event,” said Kermiet. “It’s homemade, it’s traditional, it’s low tech, it’s interactive – the dancers and the musicians together making it happen. In a high tech society, it’s refreshingly old-fashioned. I think this is part of the appeal to the current generation of dancers.”
For more information on the Valentine’s Contra Dance, contact Julee Kramer at 328-2533.Vail, Colorado