Getting Bach into Folk Dancing

-written by Hearth Member, Matthew Reese

I grew up on classical music. To say I was a snob or “that guy” with headphones who air conducts on the bus is an understatement. I barely even knew there were other genres until I was a sophomore in high school. My parents exposed me to other kinds of music, but classical was all that stuck for a long time. I breathed it.

As I grew older (and realized other music could be good too), I began folk dancing. Never losing my passion for classical music, there seemed a tension between my loves: “low” dance and “high” music. I debated vigorously the importance of this distinction with my professors in courses on art and aesthetics. I strove to determine if this tension could be reconciled. The two spheres of life generally stayed separated. I attended contra dances or went to the ballet. I went to an Irish session in the pub or attended an opera. Neither was diminished in importance or pleasure, but they were distinct.

waltzdays

Generally, I stand by the separation of these arts on the grounds that each is beautiful in different ways and for different reasons. Both occupy a place in my life and in society. However, division of these joys suggests a division in oneself, or at least in lived experience. Do I dress in colorful contra clothes tonight, or a suit? Am I to whoop and stomp my approval, or applaud decently?  While I deemed neither superior, they stood apart in my mind and in my life.

This month at Waltzdays, we are going to unite them in a special way, wedding classical music to folk waltzing. Concert musicians Anna Seda (cello) and Sally VanderPloeg (piano) will join us and bring music with them from Tchaikovsky to Prokofiev. The classical and folk worlds both hold important places in human communities, but it’s a special thing when you can let those roles intersect. At the Hearth, we recognize the beauty in two worlds that too often reject the value of the other. On September 25, we look forward to reconciling these two styles, even if just for an evening of friendship and laughter. I hope you can join us.

Can’t wait to dance with you.

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