I have been dancing my whole life. After discovering country dance ( Contra dance and Squares, English Country Dance, Morris and Sword dance) as a young adult, my love of dance became a central part of my life. Years later, with the encouragement of some important people in the dance world, I took up teaching and calling dances, and writing contra dances.
Over the past twenty years I've had great fun leading country dancing (American, English, family dances and parties) throughout New England, across the country and in Europe, working with so many incredibly talented musicians along the way. The best part remains meeting new people, making great friends, and seeing the smiling faces on the dance floor.
I've had the pleasure and satisfaction of organizing dance events, camps and festivals for over 30 years for the New England Folk Festival Association, the Country Dance and Song Society, Country Dance Society (Boston Centre) and the monthly contra dance and potluck dinner in Carlisle, Massachusetts.
In 2005, Becky Hill, caller and choreographer from Cleveland, Ohio, and I collaborated in publishing The Rosen Hill Collection, a book of our dance compositions. It has been gratifying to hear that a number of my dances have become favorites around the contradancing world.
Will Mentor is a contra and square dance caller from Northern Vermont known for his clear teaching, upbeat wit, and relaxed stage presence. He loves to choreograph evenings with a variety of dances and tempos that at times surprise and always delight, all the while keeping intact his guiding principle as a caller: "It's about the dancers!"
Bill Olson, calling the Welcome Dance Friday Night, started square and contra dancing at the Tuesday night square dance at the International House at the Univ. of PA. That was around 1977. He moved to Maine in 1984 and started playing in a little band. One day the caller didn’t show up…familiar story? The rest, as they say, is history. Caller, musician (guitar & bass), dance composer, Bill hails from Maine but has traveled extensively delighting crowds of dancers wherever he goes. We are pleased and excited Bill is coming to the Ralph Page Dance weekend.
Bruce has been part of Boston's contra and English country dance community since the mid-70s as a dancer and musician. His rock solid piano and guitar accompaniment is sought after by many of New England's best contra dance musicians. Bruce also plays piano for English country dancing, appearing frequently in Jamaica Plain (MA), as well as other New England venues. As part of Boston's traditional music scene, he plays guitar at Irish sessions and in performance with the West Newton Ceili Band, and drives the rhythm at Old Time music jams on the banjo ukulele. In the early 90s, Bruce took up the button accordion, and has played for the Pinewoods Morris Men, Ha'Penny Morris, and the Commonwealth Morris Men. Bruce has collaborated on four recordings of New England contra dance music.
Julie Metcalf, fiddler and violist, can often be spotted at contra and English dances in the Boston area, either on stage playing fiddle or on the dance floor. Julie holds a degree in Violin Performance from Berklee College of Music. She has played Celtic chamber music on viola with the Folk Arts Quartet and Mexican music with Boston’s Mariachi Palenque. She currently performs with Agnostic Fiddle Insurgency, The Gig Hunters, and The Bone Folders.. Julie is also an accomplished jawharp player; she plays jawharps from around the world, as well as other unusual instruments including the marxolin and mouth bow, in concert with Larry Unger.
Growing up in Southeastern Massachusetts Mark Roberts developed a musical taste for folk and Irish music. Its meaningful lyrics, thoughtful meditations and enveloping melodies appealed to the native son who decided to make it his life’s work. He plays traditional music on the flute, tin whistle, 5-string banjo and bouzouki and has had a long and varied career in music.
For the past 25-plus years, Mark has taken to the road, living and playing contra dance and Irish music from east coast to west coast to keep alive something foreign but with an inherently American flavor. He’s toured and recorded with the seminal band Touchstone, played the banjo with the Red Clay Ramblers on Broadway in the show Fool Moon, his flute and pennywhistle can be heard in the Jon Salyes film The Secret of Roan Innish, and he’s brought his whistle on tour with Don Henley. He currently plays with The Clayfoot Strutters.
Bringing fresh energy to traditional Celtic music, Jordan Tirrell-Wysocki is an award-winning fiddler/singer who grew up playing dances and folk festivals around New England. He was first recognized as part of New Hampshire’s culture at the age of 12, when he was the youngest member of the delegation representing the state at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. He has toured nationally with bands in various genres, performed across Ireland, and released multiple recordings of Celtic music that can be heard on radio stations around New England and in the British Isles. He has also written soundtracks for audiobooks and television (including the NE Emmy-nominated theme music for NH Chronicle) and appeared as a guest on over 75 albums alongside such names as Garth Hudson and Jerry Douglas. In 2013 He was awarded the title of “Master Artist” by the NH State Council On The Arts, and named “Best Fiddler 2016” by NH Magazine. With the Jordan TW Trio and other groups he performs regularly at listening rooms, concert halls, festivals, weddings and— of course— contra dances!
Sue's first exposure to traditional dance was in elementary school in Keene, NH, when classmate Laura Page's dad Ralph came to teach square dancing. Contra dancing came 5 years later when she was invited to a dance in Nelson, NH, where Dudley Laufman was calling with musicians who would comprise the Canterbury Country Dance Orchestra. She was hooked and with several of her friends spent summer weekends right through college traveling around the Monadnock region dancing to Dudley, Ralph Page, and Duke Miller. She moved to the Boston area after college and was out of the dance scene for 20 years. When she returned to New Hampshire, she fell back into dancing and a couple years later was playing piano for Dudley Laufman, which she continues to do today some 30 years later. For many years she played at square dances for Lester Bradley, from whom she learned Eastern singing squares. While a dancer with the Ed Larkin Contra Dancers (Tunbridge, VT), she met fiddler Adam Boyce whom she continues to work with, providing musical entertainment for historical societies and other groups. Sue plays regularly in New Hampshire and Vermont for public dances and private events, and also calls dances for reunions, weddings, and other gatherings. Her style is the traditional New England solid dancing beat which she first heard in Nelson.
David Surette is highly regarded throughout New England and beyond for his work on the mandolin, guitar (both flatpicked and fingerstyle), and cittern; Sing Out! magazine calls him “A master player of fretted instruments; The Green Mandolin is a Celtic mandolin recording tour-de-force.” His diverse repertoire includes Celtic and New England tunes, original compositions, blues and ragtime, traditional American roots music, and folk music from a variety of traditions. With his wife, singer Susie Burke, the duo have performed regularly together for more than 30 years, recording several albums and building a reputation as one of New England’s top folk duos. Surette was a founding member of the Airdance band with fiddler Rodney Miller, with whom he recorded four albums and toured nationally. He has also released five critically-acclaimed solo CDs; his most recent release, Waiting For The Sun, is a duo recording with Susie. In addition, Surette is a gifted teacher, having taught at numerous workshops, camps, and festivals throughout the US, and in the UK and Italy. He is folk music coordinator at the Concord (NH) Community Music School, and artistic director of their March Mandolin Festival, now in its 17th year.