Exploring local communities through contradance

Exploring local communities through contradance

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April's adventures extend beyond college and the "Claremont Bubble".
April's adventures extend beyond college and the "Claremont Bubble".
Photo: Michelle Chan

Having lived in Claremont, California for three months now, I find it easy to be “stuck” in our comfortable “Claremont bubble”, where tranquil cafés, bakeries, and froyo shops have become lovely weekend escape spots. Luckily, I got to explore the surrounding communities, largely…through contradance!

Contradance is a form of partnered folk dance whose mixed origin can be traced back to 17th century England and France. Couples dance in two facing lines, in groups of four that resemble a matrix structure. My fondness of the English country dance in the film Pride and Prejudice previously drove me to do a maths project on its matrix structure. However, as someone who is inexperienced in dancing, I didn’t think that I would actually contradance myself, and certainly not on the West Coast of the United States, where contradance is rarely heard of. 


“If you can walk and smile, then you can contradance”. I was given those words of wisdom as a local high school teacher offered my friend (an New Englander who has been contradancing since he was four) and me a ride to the dance in Anaheim.

Apart from naming a few contradance jargons, the friendly woman also shared the history of our nearby cities (towns, rather, by Hong Kong standards) of La Verne, Pomona, and San Dimas, and spoke of her personal background as an American-born Portuguese who enthusiastically embraced contradance a few years ago. “Look straight into your partner’s eyes to avoid dizziness,” she further advised me, citing her own initial discomfort in direct eye contact, which is relatively awkward in Portuguese culture. 

Contradance, usually accompanied by a live band and well-attended by members of the local community, is elegant and invigorating. Everyone knows each other, and brings food to share. From the past three dances in Anaheim and La Verne, I got to know someone who started contradancing as a treatment to Parkinson’s disease, and a bearded man who wore a white laced dress and a necklace out of a simple love of “beautiful things”. 

Coming from Beijing and Hong Kong, I rarely talked to my neighbours or attended events that would bring together members of the community. It would be too challenging for those mega-cities to organise such events, and individuals may not be interested since they're culturally work-oriented. Here, however, I have enjoyed experiencing a completely different lifestyle, and way of reconsidering individuals in relation to our communities. Contradance opened a new window into the local communities for me, and now extend far beyond the images conjured by films like Pride and Prejudice.

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34 Comments

Pjuan

22:12pm

it depends on the pelope thinking and co-operative ..as u can see hong kong itself is a very develop country n also other many country like uk, japan ..teha derai bikas cha road development pani tyasai gari inaru nai tyo country ho jasle bikas bayeta pani hariyali kayam garekai cha ..ra unnati pani .tyasai gari yadi hamile gauma bato layo bane yo nasoacham hola hariyali jancha n all tat .tyo bannne kkura ta hami mathi depend huncha bato banyo bandaima rukh katna pardaina u can manage it hamile watabaran kitab haru ma ni padincha jasatai bato cheuma plantation garne so tat dhulo haru absorb hos banera ..so malai lagcha ki there sudd be a well planned construction whc will not harm any environment of village and also have better development

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22:43pm

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Umer

22:43pm

Meshram ji, Narisaunu hola !! maan gadante kura gaerra sadhya hudaina. Gaun ma khancho ke cha tyo bujhne kura ho. 4/5 barsha samma sara Ghandruk VDC ko manche phone matra garna ko lagi Ghandrukai euta matra Phone booth ma ghantau(2/4 ghanta) hidera aauthe, tyo pani dherai thulo subidha jasto lagthyo. Tara aahile gaunma nai haath-haath ma mobile. Kasle socheko thiyo ra yesto ni hola bhanera? Tesai tapaile bhaneko Himal ko Chu-Chu ro ma Ghar ni banla kunai din lolघट्वाले कान्छा

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