Video & Films

 

The Other Way Back: Dancing with Dudley         Paid To Eat Ice Cream  

Country Corners & Full of Life A-Dancin'        Together in Time 

 

 

The Other Way Back: Dancing with Dudley

A contradance documentary by David Millstone

Musician and caller Dudley Laufman was the charismatic figure at the center of a dance revival in the late 1960s and 1970s whose effects can still be seen in today’s vibrant contra dance scene.

If it was Ralph Page who preserved the traditional dances of the Monadnock region and shared them with a new audience in the post-WWII years, then Dudley extended that audience dramatically in the late 1960s and 1970s as leader of the Canterbury Country Dance Orchestra, whose seminal recordings brought traditional New England dance tunes to musicians around the country. Indeed, "Dudley dancers" from that era were responsible for spreading interest in traditional New England dancing to all parts of the United States, from San Diego to St. Louis to Seattle, from Knoxville and Bloomington to Houston and Lansing.

From his first calling experiences in the late 1940s, through the heyday of the Canterbury Orchestra era, from performances at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival and the National Folk Festival at Wolf Trap, from a rigorous schedule of dances throughout New England, from Boston area high society weddings to countless New Hampshire schoolrooms—for fifty years, Dudley Laufman has been an influential dancing master and musician. He has been recognized for his contributions in many ways, including the 2001 New Hampshire Governor's Award in the Arts for Folk Heritage and a nomination for the 2006 National Heritage Fellowship.

The irony is that this man—despite his irrefutable importance—is unknown to most contra dancers today. Weaving comments by more than 20 callers, musicians, and dancers with rare archival and contemporary dance footage, this documentary provides the definitive look at a career that helped shape today’s dancing. From performances at the Newport Folk Festival and the National Folk Festival, to his current busy schedule with his partner Jacqueline, Dudley Laufman’s fifty-year career is brought vividly into focus. New Hampshire commentators include Bob McQuillen, Jack Perron, Randy Miller, Jack Beard and Marianne Taylor; among other figures from the world of traditional music and dance who share their insights are Peter Barnes, Dillon Bustin, Fred Breunig, and Steve Hickman. They all attest to the central role that Dudley played, looking at the man, the music, and the dancing.

Videographer David Millstone, from Lebanon, NH, himself a caller and dance historian, also created the acclaimed video "Paid To Eat Ice Cream." He acknowledges the financial support of the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, the Gadd/Merrill Fund of Country Dance and Song Society, and the New England Folk Festival Association which made it possible to include one particular segment of archival footage in this documentary.

The Other Way Back: Dancing with Dudley

99 minutes + 2 hours on bonus disk

Bonus Disk: Extra footage is 15 tracks, including more interviews, dance, and music. Topics include Dudley's first dance experiences, Bob McQuillen's first encounter with Dudley, changes in the music and dancing from the Canterbury era to the present, more stories about dancing in San Diego and DC (including the Glen Echo fleas) and other cities, the dance series started by Jack Perron and Rodney & Randy Miller, more tales about Pinewoods, Dudley leading dances and songs, and much more!

Copies of the two-DVD set are now available, at $29.95 for the package. Postage and handling is $3 for any number of ordered sets. Please make checks payable to David Millstone and mail to the address below. 

Dancers can also purchase copies at the monthly Northern Spy dance in Norwich, VT (second Saturdays), from Dudley and Jacqueline, and from CDSS, Great Meadow Music, and other vendors.

Thank you for your interest in this project. Please spread the word to others who might be interested in obtaining a copy of the video.

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Yes, I’d like to enjoy more than three and a half hours of video footage documenting the career of Dudley Laufman and the revival of contra dance. Please send The Other Way Back / Dancing with Dudley to the following address.

Number of copies requested: ____________

Subtotal @ $29.95 each ____________

Shipping and handling per order (not per set) ____ $3.00__

Total enclosed ____________

Please print legibly!

Name: ____________________________________

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Send your check with this order form to:

David Millstone

176 Farnum Hill

Lebanon, NH 03766

 


 

Country Corners & Full of Life A-Dancin' 



Robert Fiore and Richard Nevell are pleased to announce the release of their two films Country Corners and Full of Life A-Dancin' on DVD in 2007.

These two films are now considered classics in the field of American country dance.

Country Corners

Directed and Photographed by Robert Fiore
Produced by Robert Fiore and Richard Nevell
25 mins Color 16 mm 1976


Country Corners was made in l975 - l976 and originally aired as a national PBS special in 1976.

In distribution by Phoenix Films for 30 years Country Corners depicts, in a brief 25 minutes, characters important in the revival of interest in contra dancing in the early 70’s: Dudley Laufman, Vermont’s Ed Larkin Dancers, Jack Perron and Bob McQuillen who has become a nationally known traditional artist.

The new DVD version of the film will feature updated material with Bob McQuillen and his band Old New England, and with Dudley and Jacqueline Laufman and the Electric Barn Dance Band.

The 16mm color film was directed and photographed by Robert Fiore. Fiore is a veteran cinematographer of feature films like Pumping Iron, Winter Soldier and Greetings and has worked with directors Martin Scorsese, Brian DePalma and Barbara Kopple. He has shot innumerable music videos with The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen and Tina Turner among others. Fiore is well known for his documentary work with artists Robert Smithson (Spiral Jetty) and the Chilean surrealist Roberto Matta.

Co-producer Richard Nevell is the author of A Time To Dance: Country Dancing from Hornpipes to Hot Hash, St Martin’s Press, New York, 1977. Nevell has also written articles for CD Review and Yankee . As a graphic artist he has designed CD covers for Pierre Bensusan, Greg Brown and others.

Made before the advent of digital tape Country Corners was carefully produced and crafted by top film technicians available at that time: sound by Roger Phenix and Harry Lapham; editing by Geof Bartz. Post production mix by Lee Dichter at Sound One.

The film is narrated by folksinger Gordon Bok.

Country Corners was originally funded by the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York Council on the Arts and the producers.


Full of Life A-Dancin'

Photographed by Robert Fiore
Written by Richard Nevell
Produced by Robert Fiore & Richard Nevell
28 minutes Color 16 mm 1978


Full of Life A-Dancin'
was made in l978 and funded by The National Endowment for the Arts, the producers and with the cooperation of the Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife.


The film features one of the first "freestyle" clog dance teams from the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina: The Southern Appalachian Cloggers. Some of these cloggers learned to dance when they were children, at barn dances and parties, but others were prohibited to dance by strict church rules against such activity. The film features the story of two sisters not allowed to dance as kids who, as adults, find real personal freedom in the clog dancing.

Fiore and Nevell filmed the Southern Appalachian Cloggers in their native town of Canton, NC, where most of the men on the dance team work in a paper mill. They also filmed the cloggers dancing at the prestigious Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife in Washington, DC.

The film was made by the same crew as Country Corners and features the narration of famed songwriter and North Carolinian Billy Edd Wheeler.

Further information regarding the films in DVD format can be gained by writing to the producers at FioreNevell@aol.com


 

Bob McQuillen and New England Contra Dancing

PAID TO EAT ICE CREAM

Video by David Millstone



Contra dance is traditional American folk dance, tracing its roots to English
country dancing in the colonies. Once an integral part of rural community life,
by the 1940s the dance survived in only a few scattered pockets of the United
States, most notably the Monadnock region of southwestern New Hampshire. Here,
folks moved to old dances and tunes, maintaining an unbroken tradition going
back two hundred years.

This New England dance form was nourished in the twentieth century by a few
individuals--callers and musicians--who brought contra dancing to new audiences
and new popularity so that today, people enjoy contra dancing throughout the
United States. One man has been a vital link between the traditional and
contemporary dance scenes: Bob McQuillen, of Peterborough, NH, the dean of New
England contra dance musicians.

Paid To Eat Ice Cream tells the story of Bob McQuillen's life and the musical
career that began when he joined the Ralph Page Orchestra in 1947. Ralph Page
was a well-known figure, the best-known caller of his generation, the man most
often credited with reviving New England dance, and a father figure to the young
musician. Viewers also learn about other important individuals and bands with
whom McQuillen was closely associated over the decades: Duke Miller, Dudley
Laufman
and the Canterbury Country Dance Orchestra, New England Tradition, 

and McQuillen's current group, Old New England. There are segments on McQuillen

as accordion player, his no-frills "boom-chuck" piano style, his unusual "solfeggio"

method of writing dance tunes (more than 1100 published so far, with a new book

nearing completion), his work passing along traditional music to young apprentices, 

and his influence on other dancers and musicians. Taking a wider view, the video

also details the broader changes in contra music and dance style over the past

fifty years.

At the emotional core of the video is a series of lengthy interviews with
McQuillen, a gifted raconteur known coast to coast both for his rock-steady
piano beat and for his booming, larger-than-life personality. In addition to
many upbeat moments, the video examines tragedies in his life, presenting a rich
portrait of a multi-faceted individual. The interviews with a dozen musicians,
dancers, and callers are enriched by photographs, old recordings, and
recently-unearthed moving images, including 16mm footage of the Ralph Page
Orchestra that has never been made public.

This video picks up where Country Corners, the 1976 film produced by Bob Fiore and Dick Nevell, left off. Country Corners is about the people who were at the heart of the contra dance then and why it was important to the New Hampshire communities where it was surviving, thanks to people like the Ed Larkin dancers, Dudley Laufman, Jack Perron, the Tolman famly, and Bob McQuillen who said in the film, "Playing music for dances is like getting paid to eat ice cream." (Country Corners is to be release on DVD in 2006 with some new footage.)

 

Paid To Eat Ice Cream narrows its focus to McQuillen's era and explores the last half century of that tradition in greater detail. Part biography, part social history,  vividly documents a vibrant New England dancing culture.

David Millstone, the producer, researcher, writer, videographer, and editor, has
been a contra dancer since the early 1970s, and a dance caller for more than
twenty-five years. He spent more than a year working on this project, editing some
forty hours of videotape into the finished seventy-minute documentary.

_________


"Paid To Eat Ice Cream, an informative, visually beautiful, and deeply moving
tribute to the musical career of Bob McQuillen, documents the living tradition
of contra dance in New Hampshire. Backed by an exquisite soundtrack, the film
includes archival photographs and footage of contra dance in New Hampshire over
the years and showcases the talents of the region's dance callers and
musicians."     --New Hampshire Federation of Musical Traditions

"What you did with that movie you made is absolutely [expletive] marvelous..."        
--Bob McQuillen
_________

Paid To Eat Ice Cream is available on DVD (along with another shorter film about community contra dancing) and may be ordered directly from the producer for $25 plus $3 shipping and handling via First Class Mail. VHS copies are also available on special order.

David Millstone
176 Farnum Hill
Lebanon, NH 03766

millstone@valley.net


Together in Time

Film/video by Steve Alves

Produced by Great Meadow Music

TOGETHER IN TIME is a prize winning twenty-seven minute documentary film about New England Contra music and dance. Together in Time tells the story of "the dance that refused to end". Scott Alarik, music writer for the Boston Globe and National Public Radio described the film in the following way:

"Before jazz or rock, bluegrass or blues, New Englanders combined English country dancing with Celtic fiddle tunes and strutting French-Canadian rhythms to form, over generations, a uniquely American dance music called contra. This is its story, a tender-hearted epic brimming with music as prim as an ice cream social and wild as a Vermont winter; about a dance that refused to end, and the colorful, impassioned folks who kept it alive through Puritan censorship, Civil War, industrial revolution, and an ever changing America.

The story is told through the lives of the people themselves: 19th century African-American fiddler John Putnam, seminal 20th century dance caller Ralph Page, ageless mentor Bob McQuillen, and modern pied pipers of contra, Dudley Laufman and Rodney Miller; adorable 101 year old dancer Florence Giffin and 13 year old musician Conor Sleith: stiff collared industrial tycoon Henry Ford, who tried to popularize the dance in the 1920's, and legions of long haired hippies, who found haven from industrialized society in the pastoral clip clop of contra. but beyond that,

Together in Time is a provocative social history of how Americans have fun, how they use that fun to build community - and to preserve it."

$15.00     Available from:

GREAT MEADOW MUSIC - P.O. Box 4 - Westmoreland, NH 03467 or call 603 399-8361