Introduction to Contra Dance (2018 program)

Claire Takemori
Dance A – North Gym / 5:00 - 6:00 PM

Contra Dance is a popular community dance across the country. You don’t need to bring a partner or have experience. All dances are taught, then called, while you dance to live fiddle music. You will learn the basic moves and some fun choreography too. Wear cool layers and comfortable shoes. It’s good exercise.

Dances will be called by Claire Takemori.

Music by Pepperjack, with Jess Newman on fiddle, Derry Akin on fiddle, guitar, and keyboard, and Ben Graubart on mandolin.

Claire is passionate about sharing the JOY of folk music & dancing. She is known for clear & fun teaching. She is an accomplished dancer and has infectious smiles when dancing. In her free time, she enjoys singing, gardening, sewing, scuba, and travel. She is learning to play fiddle and foot percussion, and is the organizer for the South Bay Contra Dance (an intergenerational, gender-free dance) on 3rd Sunday afternoons in San Jose. (
Multi-instrumentalist Derry Akin has been playing American and Irish traditional music since she was a young teen. Her main instruments are fiddle, banjo, piano, and bodhrán, and she is also a singer of American old-time and Irish sean-nós songs. When Derry isn’t playing music on-stage,
teaching, or researching traditional music, you can most definitely find her out on the dance floor: contra dance, Irish céilí, and Irish step dance are her favourites!

Jess has been roving around the trad music and camp world playing fiddle and tin whistle for the last eight years. She’s now been thoroughly inducted into the contra dance fiddle world with the help of her best friend Mark, her fiddle teacher, Ryan McKasson, and her most excellent bandmates in Pepperjack. Look out for her at folk dances, because she’s found her niche and she isn’t going anywhere.

Ben studied music at Pomona College, where he played in classical and jazz ensembles, directed an a cappella group, and wrote his senior thesis about Steely Dan. He started playing violin in middle school, and also plays piano and guitar. These days, however, he’s all about the mandolin. Although he’s new to the traditional and contra dance scene, he is very excited to be a part of it!