English Country Dance

Alan Winston with Transit of Earth

Dance 1 (Gym 1) 12:00-1:00

Many folks are familiar with English Country Dance (ECD) in some form, whether it's the high-energy stage or street shows of Renaissance Faires, the more formal elegant dances done at Regency events or parties, the outtakes and samples from Jane Austen movies, a Fezziwig dance party scene from A Christmas Carol, or perhaps as part of socializing at a Dickens Faire. But ECD is living folk tradition that's still in full flower, with new dances and choreographic contributions happening to this very day. Dances range from elegant to playful to rowdy and from easy to difficult, with a wide range of mood, meter, and music. This modern style of ECD focuses more on geography than on footwork, and you can enjoy it if you know right from left and can follow directions. In this workshop we'll experience these dances, old and new, with a focus on fun and frolic.

Alan Winston is the founding caller for the Bay Area English Regency Society (founded in 1985), and leads the dancing at several BAERS balls each year, as well as informal dance parties on the second Friday of most months in Palo Alto. He's branched out from there into leading other community and historical dances (ECD, contra, English ceilidh, Victorian, early American, early California) , and has achieved national recognition as a caller and choreographer.

The gifted and accomplished musicians of Transit of Earth include William Allen, keyboard & band organizer; Stanley Kramer, violin; Susan Kramer, woodwinds and vocals; Mary Tabor, violin and mandolin; Robert Powell, recorder; and Daniel Soussan, various instruments. They are veterans of both the Bay Area Country Dance Society and the San Francisco Free Folk Festival and can play everything from Classical to English Regency to folk music and beyond. As their name suggests, Transit of Earth is also known for playing for dances at science fiction conventions, including the annual BayCon. Best of all, they know how to play beautifully and effectively for both ballroom dancers and country dancers. Other members of Transit of Earth who play regularly at the San Francisco Free Folk Festival include David Strong, violin and viola; Craig Johnson, accordion and keyboards (performing this year with Dogwatch); Craig Martin, accordion; Robert Shultheis, string bass; and Nancy Solomon, violin. David Strong, Stan & Susan Kramer, and Craig Johnson also play together as Bangers & Mash - one of the most admired and popular vintage dance and English Country Dance bands in Northern California.

Having played piano since childhood, William Allen branched out to Contra, Irish, and Old-Time music thanks to music jams organized by Darwyn Patz. In 1996, as sole musician for the Santa Cruz English Country Dance, led by Theresa Krull, he learned to accompany dancing. The next year he applied it to playing for the Palo Alto English Country Dance, led by Bob Fraley and others, and the Palo Alto Regency Dance, led by Alan Winston. He annually plays for Regency Dancing at the BayCon Science Fiction Convention and for dancing at the San Francisco Free Folk Festival. The ensembles "Fine Companions", "The Phoenix," and, of course, "Transit of Earth" count him as their pianist.