Tioga County Contradance to celebrate 20th anniversary with Harvest Dance

Tioga County Contradance to celebrate 20th anniversary with Harvest DanceThe Playford Gang. Provided photo.

Tioga County Contradance will celebrate their 20-year anniversary with a Harvest Dance that is open to the community. The event will be held on Saturday, Oct. 28, from 1:30 to 6 p.m. at the Owego Nazarene Church, located at 3732 Waverly Rd. in Owego. All dances will be taught, so no prior experience is needed. You do not need to bring a partner.

Two bands will play at the event: Contradictions, an Ithaca band, will play for contra and singing square dances, with caller Vikki Armstrong. Vikki has been calling dances since 1991. She’s charming, witty and fun. Her teaching is efficient and clear, and her rhythmic calling is right in the pocket with the music. 

The Contradictions perform an infectious and eclectic blend of dance music from a variety of fiddle traditions: New England, French Canadian, Ontario, bluegrass, Irish, Texas and old-time. The band features inventive twin fiddling, guitar, mandolin and danceable upright bass. Players are Tim Ball, Dave Davies, Tom Hodgson, and Rick Manning. 

Tioga County Contradance to celebrate 20th anniversary with Harvest Dance

The Contradictions. Provided photo.

These professional musicians have toured the Northeast, played at festivals, recorded in Nashville and played with acoustic music greats. They are honored to have them play in Owego.

The Playford Gang, hailing from Binghamton, will perform for English Country dancing with calling by Hilton Baxter. If you ever wanted to try the style of dance you have seen in the popular Jane Austen films and series, such as “Pride and Prejudice” or “Sanditon,” here is your chance.

Hilton is a long-time caller with a patient and calm demeanor and a talent for simplicity. When asked if English Country dancing was difficult to learn, he answered, “Not when I am calling.”

The Playford Gang is the house band of Binghamton English Country Dance. Each musician is involved in many musical endeavors.

They turned down a concert performance to be in Owego, stating, “We would always prefer to play for dancers.”

Musicians include Lee Shepherd, keyboard; Julian Shepherd, cello; and Allen Lutins on winds and percussion. The English Country dance set will begin at 4:30 p.m.

Contra dance has a long tradition in our region. Before the Internet, television or even radio, people made their own fun, and dancing to live music played a big part. Contra is at the crossroads of many traditional music traditions, from the bluegrass and old-time traditions to the south, Swedish and Scandinavian traditions to the west, Canadian fiddle/piano pairing, and English and Celtic traditions held in New England. Our regional New York traditional musicians and dancers harvest a bountiful wellspring of tradition.

Tioga County Contradance has a reputation for a respectful and welcoming attitude to new dancers. With three styles of dance on offer, the Harvest Dance is a wonderful opportunity to give traditional dance a try, or even come watch. Participants should wear comfortable clothing and have clean gym shoes or soft-soled shoes appropriate for dancing. Donations will be gladly accepted. Please bring your own water bottle. Finger food snacks will be potluck. The atmosphere is wholesome, family friendly, and alcohol free.

This project is made possible with funds from the Statewide Community Regrant Program, a regrant program of New York State Council on the Arts with support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature and administered by the ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes.

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