“Larks & Ravens” Contra Dancing in Warren’s Roadhouse

“Larks & Ravens” Contra Dancing in Warren’s Roadhouse
By Sherry Nevins, Contra Dance Community Coordinator

Photo by Christopher Nelson

Contra-dancing youth nationwide have been leading a movement to help their communities become more compassionate and inclusive.

In contra dancing, the terms “gents & ladies” have long been used to identify dance roles. In recent years our regional contra community has grown comfortable with anyone dancing in either role, and many dancers now enjoy trading roles. However, being asked to play a gendered role can be a barrier for some people, especially for those who have been hurt because of gender identity or expression.

Alternate (non-gendered) terms are now being embraced at contra dances in many parts of the country; of these terms, “larks & ravens” is the most prevalent. LARK = (the person on the) LEFT, and RAVEN = (the person on the) RIGHT of the couple as they end a swing.

Why not “leads and follows”? In couple dancing, one person leads and the other follows; in contra, the person in either role can lead depending on the choreography of each dance.

Separating the dance roles from gender identity, appearance, and expectations make it easier to “dance by position,” freeing dancers to choose either role without other dancers hesitating or questioning their choice.

The benefits of using non-gendered terminology are both sharing our love of contra with more people, and providing more freedom and flexibility for all dancers.

Try out a Larks and Ravens Dance at the following times:

Saturday 8 – 10 PM
Countercurrent with Lindsey Dono, Caller
Contra Sutra with Diane Silver, Caller

Sunday 6 – 8 PM
The Wisenheimers with Susan Petrick, Caller
Joyride with Jean Gibson-Gorrindo, Caller

Monday 5 – 9 PM
Woodchuck’s Revenge with Susan Michaels, Caller
Contra Quartet with Adam Carlson, Caller
Cascade Crossing with Frannie Marr, Caller
The End Effects, with Michael Karcher, Caller

All dances take place in the Fisher Pavilion.