Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend ~ Archival Pages
Archival Material for Past Weekends: 2008

Online Host: New Hampshire Old-Time Country Dance Web Site
Peter Yarensky, Publisher, Designer  & Nearly Everything Else

21st Annual Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend ~ January 18-20, 2008

Weekend Callers: Beth Parkes, Nils Fredland

Sat. & Sun. Music: Bob McQuillen, Rodney & Elvie Miller and Crowfoot (Jaige Trudel, Adam Broome & Nicholas Williams)

Friday Night: Ralph Sweet with Calliope

Retrospective celebrating Ralph Sweet, Master Singing Square & Contradance Caller since 1948.

Some Links of Historical Interest:

2008 RPDLW Brochure, 8.5x14 or RPDLW Brochure, 8.5x11 . The brochure for the 2008 weekend, in either legal or letter size, PDF.

RPDLW 2008 Flyer The flyer for the 2008 weekend; in PDF format, 8.5x11" paper.

2008 RPDLW Program-Final Grid. This is the final schedule for the weekend. PDF, 8.5x11.

Back to the main RPDLW page.


The 2008 Weekend: A Report.

This report is modified from an article written for the February 2008 Seacoast Country Dance Newsletter.

The big event of last month was the Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend. As always, it was a great time, featuring some of the best music and dancing of the year. Every year I have a hard time making a statement like that writing in late January or early February, but I’ve never once been wrong. The best musicians and callers are at their best, and the dancers are inspired by the musicians and callers, by each other, and by the friendly and enjoyable tone of the weekend.

Another Ralph! This year we honored Ralph Sweet at the Retrospective, and David Millstone put together a video about him, part of which was shown at the Weekend. It was at times amusing and at times quite fascinating to learn more about Ralph’s background and about earlier days of square dancing. I can’t wait until I have some free time to watch the entire video!

Other Performers. Of course, honoring Ralph meant that we had more singing squares at the weekend, which was fine with me; and apparently with most everyone else, because they seemed to go over very well. We also had some of the finest musicians and callers; this time overall with a somewhat more modern orientation than usual for the Ralph Page Weekend with Nils Fredland and Beth Parkes as the staff callers and Rod & Elvie Miller with Bob McQuillen and Crowfoot as the weekend bands and Calliope as the Friday night band. We got some expressions of skepticism before the weekend about Nils and about Crowfoot from some people, but the committee generally is fairly careful in its choices, and I don’t think there was any significant complaining to be heard by the end.

Indeed, Nils began researching traditional contra and square dancing well before the weekend, and pretty much used Star Hampshire as a practice session for the Ralph Page Weekend. My impression is that his appreciation of the depth of the tradition has expanded tremendously as the result  of his preparations and of his participation in the actual Weekend. And there was considerable praise for Crowfoot’s music as well. One of the highlights of the weekend for many of the musicians at the Weekend was their music workshop, at which they discussed, analyzed and had us think about issues related to playing for dances with a surprising depth of understanding and in a very articulate fashion. It’s hard to fit so much into such a short workshop!

Calliope, the Friday night band, was one of the highlights of the weekend for many of us. Amy Cann and Vince O’Donnell are the fiddlers; there are seven of them, including piano, trombone and lots more. They played great traditional music at NEFFA, and we were happy to have them at the Ralph Page Weekend; hopefully we’ll hear from them again!

Community ... One of the best things about the Weekend, especially as you attend it multiple times or as you become more a part of the dance community in general, is that we have meals together and breaks during the dances; so we get to visit with our friends. As everyone knows it’s possible to dance with someone for years and know nothing about the person. But at the Ralph Page Weekend we actually get to visit with each other, to get to know each other, and to visit with old friends from elsewhere that we only see at the Weekend and perhaps a couple other times during the year if that. It’s an event that promotes true community.

Patrick. Sadly, it would be quite incomplete not to mention how much we all missed Patrick this year. The committee missed him as an organizer and as a friend, as did many of the dancers as you’ll see shortly. Some things simply weren’t as together as they might have been; although considering that we lost our chair and probably our most organized member only a couple months before the event, we did surprisingly well. Although he was only mentioned publicly a few times, we certainly thought about his absence a whole lot. I’ll miss him as I go to put together photos of the Weekend; he was our best photographer. I don’t know how he did it; I’m too busy dancing! Patrick danced too, but he took tons of photos, and many of them were excellent. It was great to see Penny there; while I couldn’t always tell if she was really able to enjoy herself yet, I thought that was important and a good thing.

From the Participants! Ending on a more cheerful note, I thought I’d let the participants speak in the form of their comments on the evaluation forms*. Here are a few highlights from the feedback we got; it’s interesting to see what people enjoyed and what they considered worthy of a comment. Note that what some people like was different from what others like; and you can be sure that what was praised by some people showed up at times in the negative column for others.

High Points: 1. “Older contras and squares, especially ones not called at regular dances.” On the other hand, 2. “All the wonderful new dances I learned.” Many would agree with the following: 3. “There was no one high point. It was all such fun: great callers, music, seeing old friends and making new!” And as I said, 4. “The Crowfoot workshop was excellent—they were clear, articulate, knowledgeable and fun.” 5. “Hull’s Victory and Money Musk!” 6. “I always appreciate the wonderful mix of new and old.” 7. Here’s one of the best: “The community atmosphere and seeing folks I see once a year at this weekend. I also like the pacing and the fact that there’s only once dance floor and we eat together so one has a chance to get to know folks at a different level.”

There was a space for Other Comments. Here are a few: 1. “Thanks!! Excellent work, well organized, everyone worked together to provide a very nice atmosphere. I think I sprained a smile muscle! ☺” 2. “Sure was sorry that we needed to celebrate Patrick’s life – and what a great display of photos! Such a tribute to a full and contributory life. Thanks to Penny for sharing.” 3. “How could you possibly improve on such a great event.”

There were, of course, criticisms too, some deserved and some issues of personal taste that fall into the category of “you can’t satisfy everyone”. But it’s nice to put on a weekend and see that so many people really enjoyed it as much as I did!

Did you ever wonder what happens to those evaluation forms you fill out at festivals? Well, at least at the Ralph Page Weekend we read them and take them seriously. We use both the positive and negative feedback to help us figure out what went right, what went wrong, and how to make it at least as good and preferably better next year!

* Thanks to Nancy Kierstead on the Committee for doing such a great job of assembling the comments from the Evaluation Forms so we could make sense out of them!