Community Gathers For Traditional Dancing Event

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COLUMBIA - Hundreds of Missourians gathered together this weekend to dance their cares away at the Spring Breakdown.

On Sunday, the Kimball ballroom on Stephens College campus turned into a country dance hall, filled with the sound of live music and foot stomping. The annual event was hosted by Mid-Missouri Traditional Dancers (MMTD) and included concerts, dance workshops, after-dance socials and traditional dancing.

The not-for-profit organization offers monthly dance sessions with live music most first, third and fifth Fridays and the Spring Breakdown highlights dancers' hard work. MMTD welcomes all ages and experience levels.There are three dance formations common to its dances: contra dance, square dance, and circle dance. Formed by a long line of couples, contra dance is a 200-year-old dance style rooted in English folk dance, that still appeals to modern tastes. Though its popularity peaks more in the East coast, the organization has managed to keep the traditional dance alive here, in the heart of Missouri, for more than 30 years.

On Sunday folks just couldn't get enough dancing. With a smile on their faces, participants warmed up with a waltz and then lined up for contra dance. From the stage, the caller led the dancers through the moves, and after the audience picked up the moves, Rodney Miller and The Stringrays band began playing the fiddle, drums, guitar and banjo.

Betsy Collins, one of the event's chair and board member at Mid-Missouri Traditional Dancers said dancers don't need to have their own partners and are not required to have previous experience.

"I usually tell people that if you know your right from your left and you can walk, you can do it. But if you don't know your right from your left, someone will tell you 'Put the other left hand in, ifyou are doing something wrong.' It's just a welcoming, friendly community that dances," said Collins.

Although traditional dancing is mostly popular among middle-aged people in Missouri, Collins said the dance is also becoming more appealing to young people and she hopes they will carry on the tradition.

"We want people to continue contra dancing after we are gone. It appeals to everyone once they discover it," said Collins.

Mid-Missouri Traditional dancers also brought music and dance instruction to schools and other organizations in the region, including Grant Elementary School, West Boulevard Elementary School, Girl Scouts and others. To learn more about community dancing and how to register for future events, contact MMTD here.

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