The Irish Cultural Center
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Thursday, July 28 2016 @ 09:24 AM MST


Phoenix Friends of Old Time Music are now called Phoenix Traditional Music and Dance and they host the fourth Friday,  7:30 - 10:00 pm Contra dance at the Center.  All figures will be taught during the evening; no formal workshop. Non-dancing children must be attended by their parents at all times. Snacks are potluck provided by the participants; water fountain available.  Please bring your soft soled non scuffing dance shoes!  For more information join them on the web at

Contra Dancing is a form of American folk dance in which the dancers form a set of two parallel lines that run the length of the hall. Each dance consists of a sequence of moves that ends with couples having progressed one position up or down the set. As the sequence is repeated, a couple will eventually dance with every other couple in the set. Is Contra Dancing Similar To Square Dancing?  Many of the basic moves in Contra Dancing are similar to those in square dancing (swings, promenades, dos-à-dos, allemandes). A square dance set comprises only four couples whereas only the length of the hall limits the number of couples in a Contra Dance set. To join the set, all you need is a partner. If you have danced squares, you will enjoy Contras immediately.
Why Should I Contra Dance?
Contra Dances have a relaxed, family-like atmosphere where the emphasis is on dancing, a welcome relief to noisy and smoky dance halls. Contra Dancing is excellent exercise that you can take at your own pace. Above all, Contra Dancers form a community of friendly, active people that welcome new dancers, be they youngsters or seniors. Most dancers range from 25 to 60 years old, although children as young as seven can participate.
What If I Have Never Danced Before?
In Contra Dancing, your feet are never asked to do more than walk to the music. The caller teaches each dance before the music starts. The caller continues to prompt the dancers as needed. Both beginning and experienced dancers happily share the same set.
What Is The Music Like?
For many dancers, the live music is the great attraction. Traditional jigs, reels, and hornpipes from the Scots-Irish tradition on both sides of the Atlantic form the basic repertoire. The fiddle is often the lead instrument.
Is Contra Dancing Similar To Square Dancing?
Many of the basic moves in Contra Dancing are similar to those in square dancing (swings, promenades, dos-à-dos, allemandes). If you have danced squares, you will enjoy Contras.
What If I Don't Have A Partner?
No problem. Many people come to a Contra Dance alone. Dancers are encouraged to dance with many different partners throughout the evening.
Do I Need To Wear Special Clothes?
No. Contra Dancers tend to dress informally. Most people dress for comfort and in anticipation of vigorous exercise. Ladies prefer loose, light dresses or skirts; men wear lightweight slacks, jeans, or even shorts. Be sure to wear soft-soled, comfortable shoes.

An Introduction To English Country Dancing
This 4-session series is a unique opportunity to learn the basics of English Country Dancing. Join caller Peg Hesley 10am–noon on Saturday mornings starting October 1, 2011 at the Irish Cultural Center at 1106 N. Central Avenue, 85004. $20 paid in advance or $7 per session. To register contact Peg at 602.564.6620 or Note: To learn more about English Country Dancing go to:
Phoenix Friends of Old Time Music are now called Phoenix Traditional Music and Dance and they host the fourth Friday, 7:30 - 10:00 pm Contra dance at the Center.
If you’ve never heard of English Country Dancing, you're in good company, because many people are unfamiliar with it. But if you've watched Pride and Prejudice on TV, or Sense and Sensibility or Emma at the movies, you have indeed seen it. But fear not - English Country Dancing (ECD) is not the obscure relic you might think it to be! While this traditional form of dance has been around for several hundred years, it's still thriving today. There is English Country Dancing all over the United States.
Why Do People Love ECD
For many, it's the music - hauntingly beautiful tunes that make the heart swell. Some dance tunes are taken from old ballads and political satire; others come from classical music and operas. This gives ECD music tremendous variety; sometimes sweet and melodic, sometimes melancholy, and sometimes absolutely driven with a pulsating beat. Others love ECD for the grace and elegance with which you glide as you dance. At times, you simply get swept away as you become one with the music. Many people love the beautiful patterns that you create as you dance and weave. Through it all, there's an indefinable quality to ECD that makes it energizing, mesmerizing, and just plain fun.
ECD Is Not Hard to Learn
If you can walk and know the difference between left and right, you already have much of the basic knowledge you'll need. As we do it in the United States, most of the movements are based simply on a walking or skipping step. Dancers move in a number of specific "figures,” sometimes holding hands, sometimes by themselves. Each dance is prompted by a caller, so that each figure and movement is called in time to the music; you don't need to rely on your memory alone to know what to do.
Partners are not necessary;
you can come by yourself and be assured of dancing throughout the evening because the tradition is to change partners for each dance. Local dances are social and friendly, and the atmosphere is informal. No special clothing is needed, other than clean, soft-soled shoes or sneakers.

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