By Kyra Young
Personal expression comes in different forms; painting, drawing, sewing, even knitting, but a favorite expression of many people is the sport of dance. We all know there is a panoply styles, but what you may not know is just how diverse the dance community of Corvallis really is. Come learn about the rare and strange, as well as the common waltzes, that exist in this melting pot Corvallisites call home.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, contra dancing is “a folk dance in which couples face each other in two lines or a square.” Contra dancing is diverse and there are many different dances to choose from. The Corvallis Folklore Society has contra dances on the first and third Saturday evenings of September through June. They also hold the occasional “Special Dance.” These dances have a caller and live music, which is usually a band made up of three to four members playing various kinds of instruments. These events also feature a newcomer session at the beginning. Member Karen Griswold describes contra dancing as “fun and a great way to meet people.” She says, “The Corvallis contra community is known for being warm and welcoming to everyone.” Main dancing for all Corvallis Folklore Society Contra Dancing is from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. with a short intermission. Admission is $7 at the door and members get a $1 discount. For more information, contact Frank Griswold or Karen Griswold at firstname.lastname@example.org
Corvallis Squares is our local square dancing group. According to their website, square dancing is a great way to stay mentally and physically active while listening to upbeat music. Their regular dances are every second and fourth Saturday at the First Congregational Church. Members of the club range from 20 to 90 years and are couples and singles. Member Karen Karplus says, “Square dancing is very social, and people laugh a lot; we also appreciate that it’s good exercise. It combines three aspects of holistic health: movement to music, mental challenge, and relational connection.” Round dancing for each dance starts at 7 p.m., and actual square dancing begins at 7:15 p.m. The club serves finger food and drinks throughout the entirety of the dance. For more information, call Mary Craven at (541) 250-0250.
Belly dancing originated in the Middle East as a large diverse group of dances. Every part of the body is engaged and involved. Raqs Sharqi is the most familiar of the dances to Westerners and is performed around the world. Women most commonly perform, but men can participate as well. Instructor Antigone Cook teaches tribal style belly dance. “Tribal Style belly dance is very regal,” she says. “It is an empowering and powerful type of dance. Because it borrows movements from all over the world, there is also an element of exotic mystery to it!”
If you are looking to learn Raqs Sharqi or any other style, The Corvallis Belly Dancing Performance Guild is your one-stop shop. The guild is a not-for-profit organization of performers, musicians, students, and supporters of the form. There is a weekly belly dance show at Old World Deli every Wednesday from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Instructors involved with the guild can be found on their website at corvallisbellydance.org.
Irish dancing consists of traditional dance forms developed and originating in Ireland. Corvallis Celtic Arts shares their love of dancing by performing at local fairs and festivals. Maureen Clark of Corvallis Celtic Arts says, “Irish dance allows everyone to explore their Irish roots. It is unique, it has a family atmosphere, and a strong camaraderie amongst dancers.” An Daire Corvallis has classes for ages four and up, and for dancers of all levels. The beginner’s class is held Wednesdays at 4 p.m. at 33815 Eastgate Circle, Corvallis, OR. This class does not require any dance experience. If you are interested in more information, or to schedule a free introductory lesson, email Corvalliscelticarts@gmail.com.
Ballroom dancing is many different types of Latin and standard dance that combine elements from a variety of countries. The OSU Ballroom Dance Club is ready and willing to teach all they know. They offer weekly lessons and open dancing during the school year. Officers of the club teach lessons, with occasional guest teachers. Member Anthony Whipple says of the club, “I love that you can socialize with friends, get great exercise, and learn complicated and exciting dances, some of which have been danced for centuries.” The club dances are every Wednesday during the school year in the Women’s Building 116 on campus, with a lesson starting at 7 p.m., and open dancing from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Community members are welcome to both the free lesson and dancing. The first dance of this school year will be held on Tuesday, October 1. For more information you can contact Christina Anttonen or any of the officers at https://www.facebook.com/groups/OSUBDC/
Salsa originated in New York, but has strong influences from Latin American dancing found in Cuba and Puerto Rico. Rumbanana is a local Cuban casino salsa team. They offer monthly dance lessons that range from beginning to advanced levels, weekly parties on Tuesdays at Impulse Bar and Grill, and monthly parties in Portland. The beginner Cuban salsa class is on Tuesdays at Impulse Bar and Grill from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. You can register for the class and get more information by visiting Rumbanana’s Website at http://www.rumbanana.org or on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/RumbananaSalsaGroup