A few years ago, New England Conservatory revived the tradition of the barn dance—and we don't even own a barn! NEC's Contemporary Improvisation (CI) department hosts these interactive events, which we now offer on a regular basis.
Tonight's event is in three parts, with something for everyone.
6:00pm Fiddle Workshop
7:00pm Barn Dance
8:00pm World Dance
For all ages
Activities from 6–8pm will be geared for families with children of all ages.
All children must be accompanied by an adult.
If Appalachian fiddle music is your thing, come early for a workshop where you'll learn how this style brings out different sounds from the violin. This is open to all instruments and singers. Then stick around for traditional dances with caller, led by Eden MacAdam-Somer and her fellow CI Prep School faculty.
Dance into the night
If you'd rather dance to music from other traditions, come at 8pm when the floor is turned over to a World Dance with three very different NEC CI ensembles playing in a variety of musical styles: American Roots, Jewish Music, and World Music ensembles form the lineup. Steven Weintraub and Tony Parkes will teach all of the dances. Parkes will be calling American dances, and Weintraub will lead Jewish and International dances. No partners or dance experience necessary - just grab your family and friends and join the celebration!
About these dances
Eden MacAdam-Somer explains:
Barn dances, (also known as ceilidhs, contra dances, square dances, etc.), are social folk dance events that do not, as you might observe, necessarily take place in barns. The word "Contras" implies dances in which lines of people dance across from one another. Square dances imply square dance formations. Ceilidhs are usually connected with Scottish, Irish, or British dances and music. In any case, one may encounter many different types of dances at any of these events, including any and all of the above as well as circle dances and couple dances, such as waltzes, polkas, schottishes, hambos, and many others.
Many dance events still play an important role as community gatherings, welcoming families, providing support to dancers, and encouraging new musicians to sit in with more experienced players. Although plenty of people only show up to dance, many more attend dances with the intention of catching up with old friends, hearing great live music, and connecting with their local community. With the ease of modern travel, this sense of community has spread to encompass the entire U.S., as well as some international locations: I have played for social dances in most of the 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii, as well as in India, Israel, and the U.K.
The best part about this type of social dancing is that you don’t need to know any fancy steps or even bring a partner to dance with. In fact, it is traditional to dance with many different partners at a barn dance. This allows one to meet new people and to experience dancing with people of all ages and levels. In any case, the music should make it very hard to sit still!