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ISSUE 120 VOL 19 PUBLISHED 4/27/2007

Northfield contra dance celebrates Earth Day

By Anne Torkelson
Arts Editor

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Northfield Winter Stomp contra dance, held in February at the Northfield Armory, proved so successful that organizers and participants immediately began planning for another event. Their efforts resulted in the Northfield Earth Day Contra Dance, which took place April 21 in Carleton’s Great Hall. The Northfield Community Contra Dance Association and the Carleton Student Association sponsored the dance as part of Northfield’s Earth Day weekend events.

Contra dancing is a type of community dancing with roots in English country dancing. Participants dance with a partner and interact with other couples, much like in square dancing. Like square dancing, contra dancing also features a caller. “The dances taught were not too complicated in nature and once everyone got the basic gist of it, we jumped right in,” Christine Coleman ’'08 said. “The caller, Frederick Park, was hilarious and really fun.”

Park, a nationally renowned dance caller and instructor, led the movements on Saturday and taught a pre-dance lesson at 7 p.m. Contratopia, a quartet that has played in various locations across the country, played from 7:30-10:30 p.m. The band also provided the music for the Northfield Winter Stomp. They enjoyed Northfield’s energy so much that they offered to become the city’s “house band” for future contra dances.

Though the dance took place at Carleton, Oles were welcome and many attended. “We definitely had more St. Olaf students at this dance,” said Carleton Adjunct Professor of Religion Susie Nakasian, “and they all seemed to be having a great time.” Nakasian is a member of the Northfield Community Contra Dance Association and hopes to host a similar dance at St. Olaf in the future. She was pleased to see “Oles and Carles talking it up and dancing and helping each other” on Saturday night.

Sarah Steichen '’08 also enjoyed the interaction between different age groups. “It’s really refreshing to see the kids running around and [to] be able to dance with the older folks. It is so fun, especially when you have no idea what you are doing,” she said. Steichen summed up the event as “a night of spinning and smiling” and definitely plans on attending future Northfield contra dances.

General admission for the dance was free for St. Olaf and Carleton students and $5 per person or $20 per family. In honor of Earth Day, the proceeds will go toward the Cannon River Watershed Partnership (CRWP) and Shepherd’s Way Farm.

Two more contra dances are on the calendar for next year: the Northfield Harvest Stomp on Oct. 22, and the second-annual Northfield Winter Stomp on Feb. 22.

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