Our American Contra Dance weeks are tremendously popular and often sell out so we encourage early booking for these courses.
Our Spring 2022 event has had a change of line up. Will Mentor (USA) replaces Lisa Greenleaf (USA) as caller and the inimitable Stringrays (USA) who were so popular when they last came to Halsway in 2015 and 2018 return with the fabulous fiddle musician Audrey Knuth standing in for Rodney Miller! Hosted by Meg Winters, dance workshops take place each morning with fun optional outings and activities in the afternoons. There is usually a musicians’ workshop Wednesday tea-time, so bring instruments. Dances every evening, all in the lovely setting of Halsway Manor! Scroll down for draft programme.
“Friendly and welcoming group of people, plenty of laughs, energetic dancing and really enjoyable sessions in the bar afterwards!” Participant
Who’s it For?
Dancers of all levels of experience; newcomers to Contra are welcome (though some related dance experience would be useful), with plenty to challenge more experienced dancers too!
Meg Winters is a familiar face at Halsway Manor, and the perfect, friendly and knowledgeable host to make sure you get the best from your break at Halsway!
Will Mentor is a contra and square dance caller from northern Vermont known for his clear teaching, upbeat wit, and relaxed stage presence. He loves to choreograph evenings with a variety of dances and tempos that at times surprise and always delight. All the while, keeping intact his guiding principle as a caller: “It’s about the dancers!”
Stringrays brings together an inimitable trio of musicians with a shared interest in playing and exploring great tunes. Between the fiddling of Rodney Miller, guitar playing of Max Newman, and bass/banjo playing of Stuart Kenney, their sound is playful and sublime, raucous and tender, modern and old-school. Finding constant inspiration in each other for lyrical improvising and interplay, each moment of performance is fresh, surprising, nuanced, and excellent….
Sadly Rodney can’t make this trip, but we’re delighted that Audrey Knuth has agreed to step in.
Audrey Knuth: Is standing in from Rodney Miller. Her fiddling, featured in bands including The Free Raisins, The Gaslight Tinkers, Audacious (with Larry Unger), and Wake Up Robin, has electrified dance and concert halls across the US and Europe. Hailing from Honolulu and now living in California, she cut her folk teeth in the Boston area, attending Berklee College of Music and spending years exploring the thriving New England folk scene. Audrey’s fiddle playing is rhythmically lively and spontaneous; she’s guaranteed to get you up and dancing. She specializes in English dance, New England, Celtic, and Old Time tunes . She’s taught workshops at Pinewoods, Ashokan Northern Week, BACDS American week and New London Assembly. You know Audrey Knuth is performing if the room is buzzing at a higher level!
Max Newman – the youngest of the group – has been surrounded by traditional music and dance from an early age. He’s spent a good portion of his life playing dances great and small across the continent, as well as accompanying Irish music. His guitar playing is refreshing, fun, and creative, and has allowed him to collaborate on-stage with a wide swath of traditional musicians. In addition to his work with Stringrays, he also performs with Nor’easter and co-organizes several events, including Youth Dance Weekend.
Stuart Kenney is the go-to man for bass thump and banjo twang! His long career in traditional music has included cutting his teeth with the legendary Dewey Balfa, and prodigious output with numerous groups and contra dance bands, including Airdance with Rodney and Undertoe with Karen Tweed. In addition to Stringrays, he plays with Quebecois band Tidal Wave and Celtic groove band The Sevens. His solo banjo album The Red Case has earned him numerous accolades.
4pm tea and coffee.
Afternoons free to explore area – provision made for those without cars.
4pm Tea and coffee.
Optional musicians’ workshop on the Wednesday, 4.30-6pm approx, so bring instruments if you play.
Depart after a big Halsway breakfast!