These portraits, in photos and words, focus on a select group of musicians and dancers who were a part of the revival of contra dancing in Maine that began in the 1970s; Greg Boardman, Ellen Gawler, Doug Protsik, Kaity Newell and Cindy Larock. These individuals, now teachers and leaders in the traditional music and dance community, describe how they were first introduced to the music, dancing, and calling and the impact it had on their lives.
During the 1970s, old time country dances were experiencing low attendance and an aging audience in Maine. However, the combination of the back to the land movement and the rise of popular rock bands covering fiddle tunes and traditional songs, brought this music to the public consciousness of the next generation. The interview excerpts below capture memories from that time period and dive into the ways the enthusiasm and study of traditional tunes and dances ultimately led to the formation of bands, new local contra dances, the Maine Country Dance Orchestra, and Maine Fiddle Camp. Those endeavors ultimately set the foundation for the strength, vibrancy, and resilience of the Maine contra dance scene today.
Interviews were conducted by Corallina Breuer with each of the subjects, and the excerpts shared here are selected from those conversations.
This project was generously sponsored by the Belfast Flying Shoes, the Maine Arts Commission, and DownEast Friends of the Folk Arts.