Kicking up their heels

Local dance caller starts barn dance series in Delmar

It's an art form that involves more than just audience participation it's audience-based. And it's experiencing a sort of resurgence in cities around the country, from New York to Chicago to San Francisco.

You can add Bethlehem to that list, too, with the introduction of Homespun Barn Dance at the Delmar Reformed Church. The inaugural dance was held Friday, Nov. 19, and nearly 50 people turned out for an evening of simple dance and socializing under the watch of caller and longtime Dance Flurry Organization member Paul Rosenberg.

Rosenberg, who's been involved in the world of dance for 25 years, said he got the idea for the Homespun series after seeing his chosen form of contra dance become more and more inaccessible to beginners, with programs increasingly catering to expert dancers.

Our society makes everything so competitive, including our social time and social dances," he said. "Contra square and folk dance movements have all gotten to be very challenging...people forget that dancing is for everybody."

Rosenberg earns his living as a dance caller, working 150 to 180 events a year by his estimation, generally at weddings, anniversary parties and the like. As such, he's often presented with the task of quickly getting a group of dancing newbies on their feet and having fun without feeling intimidated.

The solution is to provide simple dances that most anyone can work their way through. Great aerobic feats and dazzling spins are never necessary.

"People just absolutely love these simple dances I was leading, and I just though maybe this could be the basis of a regular monthly thing," he said.

At the inaugural Homespun Barn Dance, participants took part in square dances, waltzes, Dutch traditional dances, English dances, French-Canadian dances and Virginia Reel, a classic folk dance.

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