By Ronica Shannon
Senior News Writer
In a society that has put a rush on the holiday season, more than 350 people have gathered at Berea College to slow down and enjoy the simplicities of tradition.
The 74th annual Christmas Country Dance School is now in session with about 380 participants ranging from local residents to those from European countries and states across the U.S.
Those who pay tuition or receive a scholarship to attend the weeklong event learn a variety of traditions that accompany a style of dance that began in the British Isles centuries ago.
Several activities are available for nonregistrants at a cost of $20 per person. The Family Dances are today and Sunday from 4:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. in the Activities Room inside the Alumni Building on the Berea College campus. A class dance demonstration beginning at 3:50 p.m. New Year’s Eve also is open to the public for a $20 admission fee. Anyone interested in going to the event should meet at The Seabury Center on the Berea College campus.
The dance school celebrates a style of folk dance that began in the British Isles centuries ago. During the group dances, a caller directs them while local bluegrass musicians play a variety of stringed instruments. Smaller break-out sessions offer more intensive instruction in a variety of areas including fiddle playing, specialized dancing and story telling.
Other special classes this year include Appalachian Barn Dance, Beginning Waltzing for Country Dancers, Harmony Singing, Temari Craft, Morris Dancing, Beginning Clogging, Jews Harp/Trump, Basketry, Mountain Dulcimer for Beginners, Dances of the Lincoln Era, English Callers Workshops, Intermediate Waltzing and an “Open Jam” for all musicians.
During Thursday’s “Parlor” time, a large group gathered to sing folk songs and share memories of past Christmas Country Dance Schools.
Ronica Shannon can be reached at email@example.com or 624-6608.