Tuesday, April 14, 2015


     Contra dancing has arrived in Armenia!!  Before I left for my Peace Corps Service I first called part of a dance at Maine Fiddle Camp, with Bill Olson as my teacher.  After that David Millstone took me under his wing and patiently taught me to be a dance caller. He let me call a few times at the big Northern Spy dances and then took me to many of his summer camp gigs in NH last summer. So, I started 'calling' dances for the children and Peace Corps Volunteers and their counterpart teachers here in Armenia.
     I had to purchase a mic and other sound equipment to make this happen. I brought with me some CDs I purchased at Maine Fiddle Camp of Dudley Laufman so I have recorded music. Sometimes I stand in the middle of a circle of dancers at the very beginning and play my fiddle while I am first teaching the calls. 
     Before I did the first dance I was Skyping and emailing David for advice and encouragement and coaching. I was so nervous before the first dance. I had never in my life called a whole dance - 7 or 8 dances. David helped me choose the dances and also sent me via email some music/recordings I needed. I couldn't have done it without him.
     Needless to say - I am now a very comfortable dance caller for mainly simple contra/barn type dances i.e. Gallopede, Virginia Reel, Snowball, Low Back Car and others. 
     This fall a national caller from Boston, Marcie, is coming to tour in Armenia so she will be coming to Hrazdan to call a dance with me and I will dance with the tour group in Yerevan.

School vacation week we danced every day at the Youth Center...
My site mate, Peace Corps volunteer Jim Daly helps me with the dancing and
the kids love him. He is
in Irishman by birth and loves to dance and hear
my fiddle play Irish jigs :-) He can dance a mean  Irish jig
to say the least . . . .
I have to have a translator, so my host sister Ruzan
fills that role for me . . .She is in the foreground here...
Me calling . . . after a few times the kids learn
the English calls - especially Do-Si-Do !!!
First dance at School 14 . . . . my school.
Had about 20 kids :-)
Dancing the Gallopede . . . .
A circle dance . . .
Vahe playing Armenian National instrument, the daduke
with me on fiddle. Even though he can speak no English, he
taught me an Armenian tune to play at the Tumanyan Day festivities
at school.
Air is held in the cheek while he plays, so he can breath and
play at the same time....
     Playing music and dancing with the children and volunteers is what keeps me going here in Armenia. These are the two things that give me real joy in my Peace Corps service.

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