HWS Hosts Free Contra Dance – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

HWS Hosts Free Contra Dance

The English Country Dancing Club (ECD) will welcome community members, students and anyone interested to social dancing with an upcoming Contra dance event. The event, which runs from 8 to 11 p.m.  on Friday, April 4 in the Hirschson Ballroom, will feature live music and a variety of user-friendly dances. The dance is free and open to the public.

In Contra dances, groups of couples follow a fixed pattern of “figures” or dance moves announced by a caller in time to music. While dances often move at a lively pace, each dance consists of a set number of figures that are easily learnable and repeated so that each person may seamlessly take part.

“Contra is incredibly beginner-friendly,” says Meredith Groman ’15, ECD co-president. “One of the wonderful aspects of contra is that it’s super fun right from the first dance you ever try.”

“It’s fun, fast, and engaging,” says Ryan Mullaney ’16, who also serves as co-President for the group. “It requires no experience, as all the dances are taught beforehand, and you don’t need a partner to come. It’ll pull you in!”

Performing at the Contra dance will be Contrapasso, a popular two-part band that frequents events across Western New York. The band is composed of fiddle player Tim Ball and Roberta Truscello on keyboard, and the duo has previously played for two Contra dances hosted at HWS. They will be joined by caller Casey Mullaney, who has been working with Contrapasso and other prominent dance bands for over five years.

The club expects to fill the Hirschson Ballroom with attendees from the Colleges as well as from locations further away, like Rochester, Syracuse and Ithaca.

“Many dancers are willing to drive long distances to events, and that makes for a really interesting blend of attendees,” says Stephanie Kenific ’17, ECD vice-president. “I love being able to meet new people at dances, because everyone involved is friendly, spirited and simply happy to be there! It’s a great environment.”

The ECD Club meets Fridays in the Hirschson Ballroom from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Any and all are welcome to attend practice sessions. English Country Dancing uses many of the same figures as Contra dancing, but dances move at a slower pace. Barb Seppeler provides the music with her piano playing, while Dan Seppeler calls out the steps and leads dances. Both are members of the Country Dancers of Rochester.

“My friends and I only began dancing in October, but we felt immediately included in this really wonderful community,” Kenific says.