Thanksgiving Dance Weekend

For our 31st Dance Weekend, November 28-29, 2014,

Contra -:- English on Saturday -:- Dance Music Jams -:- Balfolk -:- Waltz -:- Contra

Rochester Thanksgiving Festival 2014

photo courtesy Kathryn Mae Photography


Great Bear Trio

Andrew VanNorstrand, Noah VanNorstrand, Kim Yerton

Food for Thought

Daphne Kanack-Pickens and Casey Murray, with Donal Sheets

And more great music by

Rebecca McCallum, Rachel Bell, and Jane Knoeck

with calling by:

Gaye Fifer

Sarah VanNorstrand

Sound by

Tony Hernandez

Contra -:- English on Saturday -:- Dance Music Jams -:- Balfolk -:- Waltz -:- Contra


Featured Performers

Great Bear Trio is Andrew VanNorstrand, Noah VanNorstrand, and Kim Yerton

Great Bear Trio

As one of the hottest and most influential dance bands in the country, Great Bear Trio continues to push the boundaries and set the standard for modern contra dance music. The insanely talented multi-instrumentalist brothers Andrew and Noah are ably accompanied by their mother Kim on piano. Their driving rhythm, epic dynamics and uniquely rocking style have given them a loyal following of all ages. Great Bear Trio is Noah VanNorstrand, Kim Yerton, and Andrew VanNorstrand.

Gaye Fifer

Gaye Fifer is an accomplished contra caller from Pittsburgh, PA. Her delightful personality makes everyone happy to be dancing, and her clear and charming explanations make it easy. An active dancer herself, Gaye understands the subtleties of making contra dances particularly satisfying for dancers. She is involved with both the contra and English dance communities in Pittsburgh. In addition, Gaye has been calling both locally and around the country at contra weekends. She is known for her energy, enthusiasm and sense of fun. She is also an enthusiastic advocate and instructor of the contra-style waltz.  We are delighted that she will be offering two waltz workshops this year.  One more advanced Friday evening, and a beginner one Saturday afternoon.

More Contra Performers


Food for Thought

Fresh on the scene from Rochester, Food for Thought is a hot, young combination of soaring fiddle, resonant cello and driving guitar.

Food for Thought is Daphne Kanack-Pickens on fiddle and Casey Murray on cello and guitar. Joining them for the weekend is Donal Sheets, trading off on cello and guitar.

Sarah VanNorstrand

Sarah VanNorstrand

Sarah VanNorstrand

Manlius-based caller Sarah VanNorstrand has been hooked on contra dance since she was a teen, when she was one of the co-founders of Syracuse’s Contra Prom. She is a quiet and gifted teacher, quick and sure.  We love having Sarah come to town, because she gets us dancing and grooving to the music so well.  And her taste in dances is great! She’s all about the dancers having at least as much fun as she is having calling for us, which is to say, we all have a blast!

Rebecca, Rachel & Jane

A delightful fiddler, Rebecca McCallum flavors her playing with her Greek and Celtic heritage. She was a beloved member of the Rochester dance community before moving for work to Connecticut. We’re happy to welcome her back for the weekend. Rebecca plays with The Groovemongers and Riverbend.

When she’s not running her music school in Bradford, Rachel Bell brings out her accordion, the Amazing Alfredo, and rocks out. Rachel plays with Tunescape, Frivolity, Montage and the Andrew & Noah Band.

As passionate as she is for her roses, so is Jane Knoeck dedicated to great dance music. With her accordion, Ira, Jane duets with Rachel for that je ne sais quoi harmony and rhythm. Jane plays with The Groovemongers, Montage, and Frivolity.

We are delighted to bring these three good friends together again for tasteful English, flirty Balfolk, and driving contras. Rebecca, Rachel & Jane embody great taste in music and a deep instinct for dance. Endlessly versatile, their range of styles always delights. As our treasurer says, “Any band that has Rebecca, Rachel or Jane in it is bound to be good.” And for this weekend, we get them together!

Sound Tech

Tony Hernandez

Tony is a full-time traveling sound engineer with over a dozen years of experience all around the country. He specializes in sound for acoustic music for dances, providing a high degree of intelligibility and acoustic clarity. Tony combines an in-depth understanding of the physics of sound production with a deep love and appreciation for music and the people who make it.

We love Tony. First because he’s just a great guy. He’s also just the best dance sound engineer there is. He’ll make sure the bands sound their best, the callers are clearly audible, and everyone is happy.


Weekend Schedule Highlights

  • Contra Dancing Friday & Saturday evening, starting at 8:00 PM.
  • English Dancing Saturday morning.
  • More Contra Dancing on Saturday during the day.
  • Dance Music Jamming all day Saturday, open to all.  Bring your instrument, take a load off your feet, and jam!   Teach and learn dance tunes together.
  • Fabulous buffet lunch included with Saturday admission.
  • A fun way to organize for dining at nearby restaurants on Saturday.

We have a printable schedule.  It could change, but we know you’ll have fun whatever you do!



Register in advance to pick up your ticket in the express line and get on the floor faster. Sorry, the early bird discount is no longer available.
Full weekend, Door price after November 6th, 2014 $65.00
Yes!  You can register for the dance online.  Our spacious dance floor has plenty of room.  Just use the Pay Now button at right.
Or, you can print out this registration form, write your check and drop it in the mail. Must be postmarked by November 6th for advance pricing to apply.

Pricing at the door:

Regular Student w/ID
Please note: we can only accept cash or check at the door.
Full weekend $65.00 $50.00
Friday evening (8-11 PM) $20.00 $15.00
Saturday evening (8-11 PM) $20.00 $15.00
Saturday (9-5) (includes lunch) $30.00 $20.00

Where to Stay:

We reserved a block of rooms at the Rochester Hyatt Hotel. However, we now understand that the market rate for hotel rooms has dropped faster than predicted when the deal was set up. Instead of following the link, make your hotel reservation outside of this. It’s a convenient 8 minute walk from the dance.  Of course, you may find other fine hotels in the area with standard tools.

There is a limited amount of home hospitality available.  Many of our usual hosts are full up with family for this time.  You may contact our housing coordinator to place a request.

How to get to the dance:

The dance is held at Salem United Church of Christ, 60 Bittner Street, Rochester, NY 14604. We have a map and directions to the dance.


Click here for pictures of the 2008 Thanksgiving Weekend, taken by Jeff Folkins. We have so much fun dancing, we don’t take very many pictures.

For more information, contact us by email.

See you on the dance floor!