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Edison & Ford Winter Estates Blog

Edison & Ford Winter Estates Blog

Learn Contra Dance at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On September 15th

Henry and Clara Ford DancingCelebrate the Edison & Ford Winter Estates newest Museum exhibit, “Music, Movies & Dance with Edison & Ford,” and learn how to Contra dance in the main exhibit hall in the Estates Museum on September 20, 2009 from  2 PM – 4 PM. 

Although Henry Ford is best known for his automobiles, Ford had other interests and avocations including a love of traditional American country dance. Ford believed that dancing taught social training, courtesy, good citizenship and rhythm. His love of dancing resulted in the building of Lovett Hall in Michigan, a place for people to learn traditional American dance. For twenty years traditional dance was taught to the Ford family, friends, employees, and school children.  Ford considered dancing to be a form of social training for boys and girls saying, “Courtesy makes friends and good manners keep them.” 

Ford organized the Early American Dance Orchestra to accompany the dancers.  The public was able to enjoy Ford’s love of music when The Early American Dance Music radio program broadcasted in 1944 -1945 with a “Dance Master” calling steps.  In 1926 Ford published a book, Good Morning After a Sleep of Twenty-Five Years; Old Fashioned Dancing is Being Revived.  The book is available at the Estates Museum Store. 

Contra dance is for the young and old, beginner and expert, singles and partners.  All Contra dances are explained and “walked through” by a Caller before they are danced.  Polkas, square dance steps and other called dances are part of the Contra dance experience.  The program includes a live traditional music dance band and expert instructors. 

The Estates Contra dance will be separated into two programs. At 2 PM the first of two 55 minute Contra dances will begin which includes a community participatory program and instruction. Before the second program begins, dancers from Dance Bochette will perform dances of the period including Quadrilles and a Varsouvienne.  Caller Gillian Carney teaches English Country Dancing at the Wa-Ke Hatchee Recreation Center and travels throughout Florida for Contra dance, Irish set dance and Scottish country dances.  The Assembly Line Band will be providing music for the dance.  Band member Gail Keel, keyboards/concertina, is a talented, passionate musician, who plays in several different bands, playing many different instruments, as well as multiple styles of music.  Fiddler, Jeff Moorhouse, has played for dances throughout Michigan and southwest Florida.

The Estates exhibit, “Music, Movies & Dance with Edison and Ford” focuses on the interest and inventions of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford related to music, dance and the movies.  The exhibit includes a collection of phonographs, projectors and other artifacts connected to sound, music and the movies.  The exhibit also includes viewing of early Edison silent films. 

Estates members are FREE; non members $12 adults, $6 children.  Cost includes dance instruction, refreshments and tour of the Lab and Museum.  Support of the exhibit and program is provided by:  Dance Bochette, Bill Smith Appliances & Electronics, Carter-Pritchett Advertising, Inc., Gillian Carney and The Assembly Line Band.

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