Funding provided by the Columbia Office of Cultural Affairs is making possible a series of special musicians for four of the Mid-Missouri Traditional Dancers contra dances this year. The “Bringing it Home” series showcases the current generation of master fiddlers and accompanists who are an integral part of Missouri’s community dance tradition, but are rarely heard in the Columbia area.
One of the series is this Friday, April 21, when MMTD will welcome special guests Ellen Gomez and Friends. Ellen Gomez performs with the Folk Music in the Melting Pot educational program at Sheldon Concert Hall in St Louis. She holds MFA and MAT degrees from Washington University in St. Louis and teaches fine arts full time at Forsyth School, an independent elementary school in Clayton. She was the 2009-2010 recipient of a grant from The Missouri Folk Arts Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program to apprentice with Missouri master fiddler, Vesta Johnson. She has also studied with master fiddlers Bruce Green and Dirk Powell, among others. Leading the dances this week will be local callers Jim Thaxter and Heidi Stallman.
The dance starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Ballroom Academy of Columbia, 3910 Peachtree Drive. Beginners are encouraged to come to an introductory lesson at 7:00 p.m. Admission is $8 for the public, $5 for students and ages 16-25, with free admittance for children 15 and under.
MMTD’s dances are fun, community-oriented events that do not require prior dance experience. Individuals of all ages are welcome, as well as couples and groups. No partner needed. Every dance is taught and called throughout the evening to live music. Dancers should wear lightweight, comfortable clothing and soft-soled or leather-soled shoes to preserve the floor—no spike heels or cowboy boots. (Please carry-in appropriate dance shoes as needed.)
For more info call 573-825-4698.