We’re looking forward to great dancing at this year’s Festival, our 34th. The Great Bear Band, the latest project of the amazing VanNorstrand brothers will be providing rockin’ music to put a lift in your step and joy in your heart. Calling the dances will be Nashville’s Susan Kevra, whose deft hand will maximize our connection to the music and Sarah VanNorstrand. In addition, Peregrine Road (Rachel Bell and Karen Axelrod) will be playing luscious tunes for our waltz, English, and contra pleasure. Rachel’s compositions will reach into your heart, as they have into ours. Susan has composed several English dances especially for some of Rachel’s tunes. And we have two special sessions included: grid squares with Casey Carr, and techno contra with DJ Chuck Abell.
Pre-register now! Our early registration discount is over now, but you can still pre-register online now and get to the dance floor sooner through our express, prepaid line.
Weekend Schedule Highlights
- Pre-Contra Intermediate Waltz Workshop starts at 6:30 PM Friday evening.
- Traditional Contra Dancing starts at 7:30 PM, Friday evening.
- Wake-up Waltzes and English Country Dancing Saturday morning.
- More Contra Dancing on Saturday during the day.
- Saturday afternoon downstairs: “4×4 on the floor”, “Grid Squares with Flair” and no walk-through contras.
- Saturday afternoon upstairs: waltz workshop and a sing-along led by Golden Link Folk Singing Society.
- A special “Taste of Techno” contra session hosted by DJ Abell Saturday at 6:00 PM.
- The big Saturday evening Contra Dance at 7:30 PM.
- Dance Music Jamming all day Saturday, open to all. Bring your instrument, take a load off your feet, and jam! Teach and learn dance tunes together.
- Fabulous buffet lunch included with Saturday admission.
- A fun way to organize for dining at nearby restaurants on Saturday.
We have a convenient detailed schedule for planning your weekend. We know you’ll have fun whatever you do!
Susan Kevra burst onto the contra dance scene in the early 1990s in New England and honed her craft at her monthly dance series in Greenfield, MA for ten years. She now makes her home in Nashville, Tennessee, where she calls and organizes English, contra and square dances. She also travels to call at dance camps across the country and occasionally, around the globe. She spent 2000 – 2001 in France and traveling throughout Western Europe teaching Anglo and American dancing – and learning French dances. She is also a professor of French and American Studies at Vanderbilt University, where she teaches a class, “American Social History through Dance.”
Susan is noted for her warmth, clear teaching and lovely voice. Dancers on both sides of the Atlantic appreciate her diverse repertoire of singing squares, Western patter calls, contras and English Country dances. She has choreographed a number of well loved contra and square dances, including “Trip to Phan Reel” and “The Hume Fogg Reel.”
Susan is an accomplished clarinetist who plays for dancing in a variety of bands, including Old World Charm School with Karen Axelrod and Rachel Bell.
Sarah VanNorstrand has been calling, organizing and teaching contra, square, and family/community dances for seven years. She has a clear and engaging teaching style and a great repertoire of dances to share. Instantly hooked from her first contra dance as a teen, Sarah’s love of dance and her joy in sharing it with all who will is evident and infectious. Above all, her goal as a caller is to make sure the dancers are having as much fun as she is!
Ithaca based Casey Carr has been calling great dances for a long time. She’ll be bringing grid squares to the 2017 Thanksgiving Festival.
In his caller persona, Chuck Abell brings us challenging dances that will exercise your mind and tickle your fancy with their intricate beauty. Chuck organizes the monthly caller meetings in Rochester to workshop new dances. He’ll debut his “DJ Abell” persona at our 2017 Thanksgiving Festival, with a Taste of Techno Contra session.
Andrew VanNorstrand, Noah VanNorstrand, Kim "Mama Bear" Yerton
For more than sixteen years, GREAT BEAR has set the standard and pushed the boundaries of modern contra dance music. They are known all over North America for their epic dynamics, genre-transcending arrangements and deep dance grooves. Andrew VanNorstrand (guitars and fiddle), Noah VanNorstrand (fiddle, mandolin and feet) and Kim “Mama Bear” Yerton (piano) are joined by Chris Miller (saxophones and banjo), Rebecca Bosworth-Clemens (clarinet) and Dana Billings (drums).
Rachel Bell (Accordion), Karen Axelrod (Piano, Accordion)
RACHEL BELL (accordion) has been gracing the stages of contra dance halls, concert venues and bal folk dances for many years. Pair Rachel up with pianist KAREN AXELROD, widely known for her lyrical and powerful English Country Dance playing, and you get Peregrine Road.
These two seasoned musicians provide an exhilarating dance experience infused with energy and variety. Vivacious reels, quirky French-influenced groove tunes, dreamy jigs, and fiery improvisations will keep your contra dance feet going all night long. At an English country dance, you’ll soak up sounds that are beautifully matched to the dances, with just the right balance between finesse and zing.