The Erie Canal Museum and the Syracuse Dancers will host a traditional English country dance in the Museum’s historic Weighlock Building in downtown Syracuse from 1-4 pm on March 25. These dances will be accessible to dancers of all ages and abilities as well as similar to dances from the Canal’s towpath era. Live music will be provided by Henry Jankiewicz on the fiddle & Harvey Nusbaum on guitar. Attendance is free for all comers with a $10 recommended donation to help offset expenses.
English country dancing is closely related to its cousin, square dancing, which has many similar figures and movements. The dances generally start in a “contra line” or “longways set,” rather than, say, a four-couple square formation (although dances in squares or other formations are included at times as well). A contra line is just a set of couples lined up, one behind the other as they face the stage. The dances are designed so that you and your partner will dance with every other couple in your line. A caller teaches each dance sequence, telling you everything you need to know (no classes are necessary). The dances are done with a smooth walking step, and fancy footwork is rarely required. Reels, jigs, waltzes and related tunes from American, Canadian and British Isles traditions predominate, and the fiddle is often a featured instrument. Tunes for English country dance tend to be particularly varied in style and feeling. Many go back to the 1600s.
Everybody is welcome. The Syracuse Country Dancers are a friendly, multi-age group; the regulars include teens, seniors and everything in between. Their events are both smoke and alcohol free, and dress is casual. People come with or without a partner. Even those who arrive with a partner generally dance with many other partners through the evening as well, and this is encouraged. It’s part of the fun! For new dancers, it is suggested to come at the beginning of the dance, since that’s usually when the caller teaches most carefully, with newcomers in mind.
Refreshments will be provided for participants. No registration is required, and more information can be found on the Erie Canal Museum’s website or social media. For more information about this program, please call the Museum at (315) 471-0593, email email@example.com, or visit our Facebook page.
The Erie Canal Museum engages the public in the story of the Erie Canal’s transformative impacts on peoples and places in the past, present, and future. We are stewards and interpreters of Erie Canal related materials and heritage. It is located in the historic 1850 Syracuse Weighlock Building located at 318 Erie Blvd E, Syracuse, NY 13202. For more information visit www.eriecanalmuseum.org, connect on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.