In February around 30 students from University High School in Urbana attended our Washington's birthday dance. They had been reading Emma by Jane Austen and they wanted to see what the dances she mentions were like. They joined us in some English dances as well as some early American dances. They were all very enthusiastic and seemed to have a great time.
In April John Ramsay came up from St. Louis and lead a couple of workshops as well as an evening dance for us. I think everyone who attended gained a lot from his leadership and insights into country dance. No matter how long you have been involved in dance there is always something more to be learned. He showed us something about the history and development of country dance in England, America and Denmark and gave us a feel for how these dance traditions are interconnected. In addition he imparted to us several useful tips on how to become better dancers. During the course of the day we learned 22 different dances. I think everyone, no matter how experienced, learned something new.
We held our third annual Playford Ball on Saturday, June 20. It was a very warm evening, but we put fans in all the windows of the Channing-Murray Foundation making the atmosphere in the hall tolerable. There were many new faces at the ball, in addition to all of the familiar dancers and musicians who have been part of the group for years. Hopefully scheduling will allow us to return the ball to early June next year so that we can get slightly cooler weather.
One sad event that occurred this spring was the death of Norm Peters. Norm had been playing mandolin with the Flatland Consort for over a year. He died on the morning of April 18. Norm was a retired electrical engineer and also played the domra with the Russian Folk Orchestra. His enthusiatic playing will be missed.
We are always looking for new ideas for events for the group, both for our enjoyment and to spread the word about English Country dance. Some of the ideas that we have been discussing are; an afternoon English tea party with dancing, dancing at a Renaisance Fair and workshops on various types of dances. If you have any ideas of fun activities for the group or for ways to introduce new people to English dance, contact Jane, Jonathan or any of the other regulars.
Sunday, July 12: Independence Day Dance from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the Springer Cultural Center. This dance will feature early American dances from the Colonial and Revolutionary eras.
Saturday, July 25: Pool party at Jane Hobgood's, 3 Illini Circle, Urbana. Swimming starts at 3:00, dancing (in the pool) starts at 4:00. A potluck dinner will follow. Rain date, Sunday, July 26.
Sunday, September 13: Dance and picnic in gardens at Allerton Park. Picnic from 1:00 to 3:00, meet at 1:00 at the visitors center . Dancing from 3:00 to 6:00 in the Sunken Gardens.
Sunday, September 27: Dance from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the Springer Cultural Center.
Sunday, October 25: Dance from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the Springer Cultural Center.
Saturday, November 21: Dance from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Springer Cultural Center.
Sunday, December 6: Dance from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the Springer Cultural Center.
Saturday, December 19: Christmas Ball from 7:00 to 11:00 p.m., location TBA.