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Book Review | Traditional Barn Dances with Calls & Fiddling

Book Review | Traditional Barn Dances with Calls & Fiddling
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About 35 years ago, when my wife and I arrived in Concord, New Hampshire, we went to something called a contra dance. We had some experience with square dancing, and there were some similarities, but in other ways contra dancing was a whole new experience.

Our teacher was a cranky, charismatic fiddler and poet from Canterbury named Dudley Laufman, who, with his wife and music partner, Jacqueline, has produced this charming multimedia package: Traditional Barn Dances with Calls & Fiddling (Human Kinetics; $59).

In addition to the book, which contains dance calls, dancing directions, sheet music, a glossary, and historical background, there’s a DVD showing all the moves and demonstrations of certain dances, plus two CDs, one with calling included and the other without, so that you can practice to become a caller yourself.

You might, in time, become a dancing master–like Edson Cole of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, who “had a farm, managed another, as well as being town clerk and road agent. At his classes he used to say ‘1-2-3 balance with me, and if you can’t do that, go sid down.’ ”

He sounds a lot like the fellow who taught us to dance.

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Tim Clark


Tim Clark


Tim Clark has been writing for Yankee Magazine and The Old Farmer's Almanac since 1975. Subjects of his many Yankee profiles have included filmmaker Ken Burns, historian Barbara Tuchman, pediatrician and political activist Dr. Benjamin Spock, and World War II General James Gavin. Tim left his job as Managing Editor in 1999 to teach English at ConVal High School in Peterborough, N.H. for 13 years, but since retiring from that demanding and rewarding profession in 2012, he has continued to contribute articles and book reviews. Tim lives in Dublin, N.H., two miles from the offices of Yankee Publishing, and serves as Town Moderator, a post previously occupied by Rob Sagendorph, the founder of Yankee Magazine.
Updated Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

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