Brattleboro Dawn Dance returns on Labor Day weekend
Wild Asparagus is one of the three bands that will be playing at the annual Labor Day weekend Dawn Dance in Brattleboro.

Brattleboro Dawn Dance returns on Labor Day weekend

BRATTLEBORO — Dawn dances are a longstanding tradition here in Brattleboro, and this Labor Day weekend hundreds of contra dancers of all ages, from New England and beyond, will converge downtown for yet another all-nighter at the Gibson-Aiken Center.

Beginning at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 6, and continuing until 7 a.m. on Monday, three excellent bands, three nationally known callers, and an estimated 400 dancers will join in a joyful and merry-making event in the center's upstairs gym.

As a warm-up, the English Country Dance portion of the Brattleboro Dawn Dance runs from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Stone Church, 210 Main St. in downtown Brattleboro, across the way from the Gibson-Aiken Center.

Dance and music of this style is drawn from the Jane Austen era and before, and from modern choreography and recent musical composition. There is a lot of variety in this dance form, but it is accessible to all and taught by the skilled dance leader Adina Gordon, who hails from Burlington.

Playing this delightful music is a trio also from Burlington: Laura Markowitz on violin, James McKinley on cello, and Aaron Marcus on piano and concertina.

Tickets are $10 and limited to 70 people. Organizers say tickets are best purchased at before Saturday, Sept. 5. Tickets for both the English country and evening contra dance will be available when the doors open at 2 p.m.

Starting off the Dawn Dance at the Gibson-Aiken at 8 p.m. is the Greenfield, Mass./Brattleboro-based band Wild Asparagus, widely popular in this country and abroad as one of the genre's best.

Greenfielders David Cantieni (winds) and Ann Percival (piano/guitar), and Bratttleboro resident Becky Tracy (fiddle) anchor this band; George Marshall from Belchertown, Mass., will call all the dances and play concertina, and Mark Murphy from Pennsylvania is the bass player.

The second band from upstate New York is Great Bear Trio, known nationally for its very innovative music, some written by band members. This is a family band of two brothers, Noah and Andrew VanNorstrand, who play fiddle, guitar, mandolin, and other instruments; and their mother, Kim Yerton, on piano. Andrew's wife, Sarah, is an ace caller with a lovely presence.

The trio will play a set of couple dances before resuming the contra dance at 12:30 a.m.

The third band, Sassafras Stomp, hails from Maine and is making its debut here, although the caller, Nils Fredland, is well known in New England and elsewhere for his presence and command of teaching. The trio are Johanna Davis on fiddle, Adam Nordell on guitar, and John Pranio on banjo and fiddle. Their sound is ebullient, to say the least.

All dances are taught. Tickets are available at and at the door at 7:30 p.m. Dancers are encouraged to buy in advance. Admission is $25 ($20 for students and seniors).

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