Several people interviewed for this story described contra dancing as what you would see in a Jane Austen film. That might be more accurate if Jane Austen’s characters danced barefoot, wore Fitbits and moved so vigorously they had to stop to dry their face off with a towel or change their clothes. And if they cared less about class. While Jane Austen’s characters are typically nobility and spend much of their time concerned with status, this dance feels uniquely egalitarian.
The New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, in partnership with the Monadnock Folklore Society and the Monadnock Center for History and Culture, is sponsoring an exhibit about the Granite State’s tradition of social dancing at Milne Special Collections, Milne Library, University of New Hampshire Durham from Jan. 16-March 11, 2016.
“Traditional Dance and Music in New Hampshire: 1750-today” traces the long history of contra and social dance music throughout the region, especially in the southwestern part of the state.
Irish, Scottish, English and French Canadian traditions all contribute to New Hampshire’s dance traditions. Dances are similar to square dancing but are generally performed in lines to live music played by fiddles and piano. Banjos, mandolins and guitars may also be heard at contra dances.
Community social dances have been happening in New Hampshire continuously since before the Revolutionary War.
The exhibit features artifacts, documents, instruments, photographs and audio recordings.
There is no charge to view the exhibit.
The New Hampshire State Council on the Arts is a division of the New Hampshire Department of Cultural Resources. It began in 1965 with legislation designed “to insure that the role of the arts in the life of our communities will continue to grow and play an ever more significant part in the education and welfare of our citizens.” Funding for programs is provided through state appropriations, a partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Conservation License Plate fund. Learn more about the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts at www.nh.gov/nharts.
Bob McQuillen spoke at the Nelson Town Hall for a Nelson Library Summer Forum on July 14, 2011.
Our thanks to Rich Rommer for taking this video, to CJ Leake for additional audio, and to David Millstone for making it available on YouTube.
Monadnock Folklore Society events are “CDSS Passport to Joy” destinations for 2015.
Anyone who joins the Country Dance and Song Society in 2015 will receive a Passport to Joy! Join online at www.cdss.org/join.
We will have stickers available to stamp your CDSS Passport at the Snow Ball, the Nelson Monday dance, and the monthly Peterborough dances.
Sacred Harp singing is much more than an interesting repertoire of early American three and four part a cappella folk music. It is a living tradition that treads an unbroken path prior to the Civil War and whose music can be directly traced as a distinct musical thread back beyond the American Revolution, through to rural England, back to Reformation psalmody and beyond to Renaissance polyphony.
Come try out Shape Note singing on the 1st and 3rd Thursday, and the 2nd Sunday, of every month in Nelson NH.
On Monday, September 29th, the world-famous Monday Night Dance returns to the newly renovated Nelson Town Hall.
Here’s a picture of one of our stalwart volunteers working on the repair of the floor.
See this post for more information about the project.
The next sing will take place on Tuesday, July 29 at 7 pm. NO experience is necessary. If you think this sounds interesting, we’d love to have you come listen and give it a try. We will have several extra books to lend for the session. If you’ve sung shape-note songs in the past and are ready for more singing close to home, we’re eager to meet you and have you join us, too. If you want directions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There will be a series of events on Saturday, May 3rd in Peterborough NH to celebrate the life of Bob McQuillen.
- 2-4 PM Memorial at ConVal High School (184 Hancock Rd, Peterborough, NH 03458)
- 4-8 PM Reception at the Monadnock Country Club (49 High Street 03458)
- 7-11ish Dance at the Peterborough Town House (1 Grove Street 03458). Musicians and callers welcome to perform, send email to email@example.com if interested so we can keep track.
More details will be posted as they become available.
With a 79% majority vote, the Town Hall Renovation Budget ($305,900) was approved at the Nelson Town Meeting on Tuesday, March 11th. While the majority of the renovation is funded from Town reserves, a local fund-raising effort raised $80,000 towards the Town Hall work. These donations were essential to the passage of this budget at Town Meeting and the Monadnock Folklore Society is grateful to all who contributed.
During the renovation, the Monday Night Dance will move to the Peterborough Community Center at 25 Elm Street on Monday, May 5th, and then will move to Heberton Hall in Keene on Monday, June 9th. We expect to return to the Nelson Hall by mid-August.
The work to be done on the Town Hall includes the following scope:
- Separate the structure from the Connector Building.
- Elevate the structure above its foundation.
- Remove the rubble foundation.
- Pour new concrete foundation.
- Reinstall granite capstones.
- Install drainage systems both inside and outside of new concrete walls.
- Pour concrete footings for posts and pour new concrete floor.
- Remove exterior siding from East wall.
- Straighten walls and level floor to best achievable plumb and level.
- Re-sheath East wall with OSB and reinstall siding.
- Reinforce roof bearing posts with steel channel iron or wood.
- Reinforce floor with additional wood timbers and floor joists.
- Reinforce roof trusses with additional framing members.
- Renovate window sash and front door using funds from a Moose Plate Grant.
- Remove furnace from Storage Room in Town Hall.
- Relocate furnace from Storage Room to Library Furnace Room.
- Install duct work for heating or introduction of ambient air for ventilation.
- Install fan and floor registers to bring heated or ambient air into the Town Hall.