Come for the Music, Stay for the Dance!

Contra Dance with Saline Fiddlers Philharmonic!

On February 6 Saline Fiddlers Philharmonic (SFP) and the Ann Arbor Community for Traditional Music and Dance (AACTMAD) will host a SFP concert followed by a contra dance. Come for the Music, Stay for the Dance!

If you live in the area, please join us for an exciting evening. But even if you are far away, we wish to share the origin of this event because it represents a new collaboration between our youth fiddlers and the large, local community of traditional musicians and dancers.

Sheila Graziano, SFP dance instructor, has worked with the Fiddlers for the past two decades, and has been involved in the traditional music and dance scene twice as long. Sheila tells us, “It’s a fact that the best way to pass along cultural traditions is in person, dancer to dancer, musician to musician, artist to artist.”

Many former Fiddlers have kept their music and dance skills relevant in their adult lives. At the same time, Sheila says, as she has witnessed the aging of the local dance community, “it’s been heartwarming to see how music and dance remain a priority in the lives of those who are involved in the scene, and how [these activities] help keep us in shape, our minds sharp, and our social lives vibrant.”

But the fact remains that, while there are certainly some younger dancers in the area, most of the AACTMAD community is middle aged or older. The group tries to reach out to college students and young adults, but it’s been tough to draw them into the AACTMAD family.

Sheila explains, “The Fiddlers spend a lot of their high school years learning arranged music and choreographed dances for their performances, and rarely have the time or opportunities to explore the roots of the music they play and the dances they dance.” As a result, the strong link between the music and the dance is rarely drawn for them. “The fact that participatory dance and music can be part of life forever is probably an abstract concept to teenagers! They are so primed for performance that the “folk” aspect of it is lost.”

We are very fortunate to have both SFP and AACTMAD in our community. This is a unique situation which simply begs for the groups to be united, for personal relationships to be built. AACTMAD needs the youth, and Fiddlers need education and experience!

We are hoping that the Contra Dance will be a wonderful introduction for the kids in a “safe” environment—with their friends surrounding them—rather than expecting them to venture out on their own on a Saturday night to a new and unfamiliar environment.

Sheila says, “I’m a communitarian—I LOVE to bring people together in ways that benefit everyone. I just can’t believe it’s taken this long to put an event together!” We thank you, Sheila, for organizing this fantastic event, and for sharing your love of traditional dance with our Fiddlers for over twenty years.