New project brings together dancers, co-op, Heart of New Ulm

NEW ULM – The idea took seed at a barn dance last fall, as Minneapolis DJ Dan Sahlstrom led a birthday party for a member of the New Ulm Community Market and Cooperative (NUCMC).

One of the attendees, John Bauer, had a thought: a dance might be a vehicle for pooling together community efforts with similar goals.

It could build on and multiply the impact of initiatives such as NUCMC and the Heart of New Ulm, which share the mission of promoting healthy eating, staying active and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

The result?

A contra dance.

The NUCMC, the Heart of New Ulm and dance devotees are sponsoring a contra dance from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5, at Turner Hall.

The dance will be led by Sahlstrom and is free and open to all.

The event is also intended to provide something that like-minded people interested in a healthy lifestyle often lack- a venue to socialize and exchange ideas, while engaging in something healthy and fun, says Bauer.

Contra dancing is an excellent way to get introduced to couple dancing, Bauer says. In traditional couple dancing, there is an immediate need for men to lead. A couple learning traditional ballroom dancing can find the experience frustrating and painful. Contra dancing, in contrast, is much easier for both parties, as the dance leader will direct the the dancers on the moves to be made, Bauer notes.

The dance becomes even more enjoyable when the couples become comfortable with the moves because embellishments like extra twirls and spins can be added, Bauer adds. Contra dancers should be able to move and think quickly to keep pace.

“For those couples who have just found themselves with grown children and need to do something fun to do together again, or for those who are just getting to know each other better, dance is a special thing to do. Hold hand, smile, encourage and laugh. How many other social activities can be done as a couple? With all the different genres of dance, it is nice to be able to start somewhere and learn a few skills that will help with other dance styles down the road,” adds Bauer.

The event fits in with objectives promoted by the NUCMC and the Heart of New Ulm.

The two organizations are actively engaged in advertising it, and the co-op will showcase its offerings at the event.

The dance fits in with the co-op’s vision, noted one of its leaders, Amanda Groebner.

The group seeks be a “go to” place where people gather for access to food that’s organic and locally sourced when possible, education about food and nutrition, and social events that grow and support the community.

The dance also fits in with the Heart of New Ulm’s shift toward encouraging the community to take ownership, to initiate and lead efforts that support its goals.

The dance is the first collaborative effort of its kind. Bauer says he would love to see it “serialized” if it it takes off.


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