The Central Illinois English Country Dancers was really started in June of 1993 when Susan Burt and Larry Stout gave a workshop on English Country Dance at the Urbana Country Dancer's June Honeymoon dance weekend. For the next few years they held dances at their home in Normal, Illinois, approximately monthly. This fall, though, they were unable to do so and looking around for a place to hold our dances we found the Champaign Park District's Springer Recreation Center and decided to give it a try. The group has grown this fall and hopefully will continue to do so.
During the fall we held dances monthly. These were on the evening of Saturday, September 23 and the afternoons of Sunday, October 22 and Sunday, November 19. Our average attendance at these events was 24, with an average of 5 musicians playing and the rest dancing. These dances were held in the dance rooms of the Springer Center. After-dance parties were held at the homes of various members of the group.
In addition to the scheduled events we also took part in the Tuscola Dicken's Walk on the evening of Sunday, December 3. We went at the invitation of Claire Sutter, who runs a bed-and-breakfast in Tuscola. We danced at her home, doing some traditional English Christmas dances, including Sir Roger De Coverley, a dance mentioned in Dicken's A Christmas Carol. We also did some simple dances and were able to get some of the audience members to take part.
On the evening of Saturday, December 16 we held a Christmas Ball. This was held in Illini Room A of the Illini Student Union, which we were able to reserve with the assistance of the Urbana Country Dancers. The attendance for the evening was 40, including 7 musicians in the band. We started the evening with a review of dances from 7:00 to 8:00 and then danced from 8:00 to 11:00. An after-dance dessert party was held at the home of Patricia Moffitt. Six of those in attendance were members of the St. Louis English Country Dancers, who travelled here to dance with us and spent the night in town. There were also dancers here from Bloomington-Normal, Decatur and Carbondale.
The attendance has consisted of both new dancers, as well as experienced English Country dancers. About a third have been experienced dancers who have been involved with this group for several years. Another third have been members of the Illini Folk Dance Society, who occasionally do English Country dances at their events. The remainder have been new people who saw the announcements in the Park District schedule and other places. I'm very hopeful that we can continue to bring in new dancers in the future.
At the beginning of the fall the group didn't have an official name. Several people brainstormed and came up with a list of possibilities. At the Christmas Ball these names were voted on by those present. "Central Illinois English Country Dancers" won by a close margin over "Nonesuch English Country Dancers" and "The More The Merrier English Country Dancers". I think this name is suitable as it tells people what we do and where we're from. We chose Central Illinois rather than the name of a specific city since we have dancers attending from many areas.
This spring we will be once again be dancing monthly at the Springer Recreation Center, 301 N. Randolph in Champaign. The location of the Playford Ball may be subject to change. For the time being we are requesting a $1.00 donation to pay for the use of the Park District facilities. Here are the dates and times for our Spring season.
Saturday January 20 7-9 p.m.
Sunday February 25 3-5 p.m.
Saturday March 30 7-9 p.m.
Sunday April 21 3-5 p.m.
Saturday June 18 7-9 p.m.
Saturday May 8 7-11 p.m., our Playford Ball
In addition the Illini Folk Dance Society will be holding their annual festival on the first weekend in March (March 1, 2 and 3). The featured dance form this year will be English Country Dancing with teachers Tom Senior and Barbara Cool from Chicago and musicians Margaret Goodman, Bob Borcherding and Joe Herl. This will be a great opportunity to gain a wider experience in English Country dance and to improve our skills and style.
All-in-all, I think we are off to a good start. We had a very successfull fall, and can look forward to 1996 and seeing the group grow and mature. I would like to thank Larry and Susan for starting this group, Jane Hobgood for her support and willingness to assist with the teaching, all the musician for their hard work, and the Champaign Park District, the Urbana Country Dancers and the Illini Folk Dance Society for their support. For further information contact me, Jonathan Sivier at 217/359-8225 or email@example.com. If you have email access, let me know and I'll add you to the email list. If you have moved or don't wish to be on our mailing list anymore, please let me know so I can modify the list accordingly. Thanks.