Thanksgiving Dance Weekend

For our 34th Dance Weekend, November 24-25, 2017,

Contra -:- English -:- Dance Music Jams -:- Waltz -:- Taste of Techno Contra

New this year: Susan Kevra and Peregrine Road will be playing for a Sunday afternoon English Country Dance at First Baptist Church. Full weekend attendees may attend for a discounted price of $5.00.

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photo courtesy Kathryn Mae Photography


Great Bear

Andrew VanNorstrand, Noah VanNorstrand and Kim “Mama Bear” Yerton are joined by Chris Miller, Rebecca Bosworth-Clemens and Dana Billings

Peregrine Road

Rachel Bell, Karen Axelrod

with calling by:

Susan Kevra

Sarah VanNorstrand

Casey Carr

Chuck Abell

Sound by

Tony Hernandez

Contra -:- English -:- Dance Music Jams -:- Waltz -:- Taste of Techno Contra


Featured Performers

Great Bear LeftGreat Bear Right

Great Bear

We are delighted to welcome the VanNorstrands back to Western New York for this year’s Thanksgiving Festival. For more than sixteen years, GREAT BEAR has set the standard and pushed the boundaries of modern contra dance music. They are known all over North America for their epic dynamics, genre-transcending arrangements and deep dance grooves. Andrew VanNorstrand (guitars and fiddle), Noah VanNorstrand (fiddle, mandolin and feet) and Kim “Mama Bear” Yerton (piano) are joined by Chris Miller (saxophones and banjo), Rebecca Bosworth-Clemens (clarinet) and Dana Billings (drums).

Susan Kevra

SUSAN KEVRA burst onto the contra dance scene in the early 1990s in New England and honed her craft at her monthly dance series in Greenfield, MA for ten years. She now makes her home in Nashville, Tennessee, where she calls and organizes English, contra and square dances. She also travels to call at dance camps across the country and occasionally, around the globe. She returns to Rochester bringing her repertoire of great contras, English, and Bal Folk dancing, and her clarinet.

Susan Kevra

More Performers

Peregrine Road

Peregrine Road

Western New York dancers and music lovers are have loved RACHEL BELL from her work with Tunescape, the Andrew & Noah Band, Seaglass, and so on. Anyone fortunate enough to pick up a copy of her debut CD, Tone Chamber, appreciates her deft hand at composing. Since entering music full time, she has played with great folk musicians from around the country. This year, she is bringing KAREN AXELROD to Rochester as the duo PEREGRINE ROAD. Karen’s piano and accordion playing is by turns driving and sensitive, always musical. Incidentally, Rachel, Karen, and Susan Kevra form the trio, OLD WORLD CHARM SCHOOL. What a treat!

Sarah VanNorstrand

Sarah VanNorstrand

Syracuse-based caller SARAH VANNORSTRAND is a leader of the new generation of callers from Western New York. Known nationally for her clear, unobtrusive style, Sarah’s dances will unite you with the music.

Rebecca McCallum

Mild mannered music librarian by day, REBECCA McCALLUM delights dancers off hours with her sensitive — or energetic — interpretations of all our favorite tunes. Rebecca plays with the Groovemongers and Riverbend. We are so glad to have her back to Rochester for a visit.

Rebecca McCallum

DJ Abell

Chuck, a touring caller and core member of Tempest, has recently extended his calling repertoire into the the domain of techno-lite contra. Drawing from wildly diverse musical fields including pop, funk, swing, traditional, alternative, World Beat, and even a small amount of “tasteful and melodic” House music, Chuck’s techno-lite contra experience is aimed at elevating dancers to a euphoric and soul-satisfying realm. Experience the club-like atmosphere and energy of techno-contra with carefully curated medleys that – unlike some techno contra music – have been painstakingly edited to conform to the phrasing of the dances, adding a deeper layer of satisfaction to the techno experience. From Sinatra to James Brown to The Beatles to Madonna to Michael Jackson, Chuck’s Contrapalooza will have you singing and dancing like never before! No experience necessary; all dances will be taught as usual, and music volume will be kept at a reasonable level!

Sound Tech

Tony Hernandez

TONY HERNANDEZ 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

  • Pre-Contra Intermediate Waltz Workshop in Upstairs hall at 6:30pm Friday evening.
  • Traditional Contra Dancing starts at 7:30 PM, Friday evening.
  • Wake-up Waltzes and English Country Dancing Saturday morning.
  • More Contra Dancing on Saturday during the day.
  • Saturday afternoon downstairs: “4×4 on the floor”, “Grid Squares with Flair” and no walk-through contras.
  • Saturday afternoon upstairs: waltz workshop and a sing-along led by Golden Link Folk Singing Society.
  • A special “Taste of Techno” contra session hosted by DJ Abell Saturday at 6:30 PM.
  • The big Saturday evening Contra Dance at 7:30 PM.
  • 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 planned out the printable schedule. It could change, but we know you’ll have fun whatever you do!

Weekend Pricing

Regular Student w/ID
Full weekend, paid by November 9th (includes Saturday lunch)
Add $5.00 for Sunday afternoon English
$65.00 $54.00
Full weekend at the door (includes Saturday lunch) $70.00 $54.00
Friday evening at the door $20.00 $16.00
Saturday evening at the door $25.00 $20.00
Saturday workshops (9-5) at the door (includes lunch) $35.00 $27.00
English Country dance special! Saturday morning only, at the door (includes lunch) $20.00 $16.00
Grid Square afternoon special! Saturday afternoon only, at the door (includes lunch) $20.00 $16.00

Avoid the pre-dance line by purchasing weekend tickets in advance with our convenient PayPal registration form.

Or, you can print our paper pre-registration form and mail it to our Treasurer.

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.


Chris Chin has some pictures from our 2014 weekend on Flickr. Jeff Folkins has pictures of the 2008 Thanksgiving Weekend.

For more information, contact us by email.

See you on the dance floor!