March 9th – Special Birthday Contra Dance and Jane Austen Ball

Don’t miss the amazing talent at this Saturday’s contra dance! We’ll host two special guests — pianist Jeff Spero of The Syncopaths and fiddler Rodney Miller of The Stringrays, who also play together in The Rhythm Raptors, courtesy of three members of our dance community who have special birthdays this month. Cake will be served at the break to celebrate. Big thanks to John Seto, Karen Leyse, and Russell Lo Bue for sponsoring this special event!

On the same evening, Sacramento Country Dance Society also will be cosponsoring an English country dancing special event: the Jane Austen Regency Ball, benefitting the Liberty Ranch High School Creative Writing and AP British Literature classes. That dance will be held from 6 to 9 pm on Saturday, March 9th, at the school (12945 Marengo Rd. in Galt), with Lise Dyckman calling to the music of our house band, Quite Carried Away. Historical dress is admired but not required, and experienced dancers are encouraged to attend. Tickets are $5 for children and high-school students with ID and $10 for everyone else.

Birthday Contra Dance:

Talent: Joyce Miller calling to the music of Rodney Miller, Barry Angell, and Jeff Spero
Date: Saturday, March 9, 2019
Time: 8:00–11:00 pm, with newcomer’s orientation at 7:30 pm
Location: Coloma Community Center, 4623 T St, Sacramento, CA
Cost: $12 for adults; $8 for college students with ID; $5 for dancers under 18; $25 maximum for families (cash or check)


We’ve enticed local favorite Joyce Miller out of retirement to call this special dance! Joyce has been calling for contra dances since 2000, starting under the tutelage of Eric Curl. She has called at dance camps in the U.S. and Canada, but what she likes most is to call for her friends in the Sierra Foothills and environs.

Jeff Spero is one of the premiere dance pianists on the west coast. Known for his energetic style and creative arrangements, Jeff has brought his talents to dances and festivals throughout the nation. His accompaniments bring a fresh perspective to traditional forms. Through performances with The Syncopaths and The Rhythm Raptors, along with renowned fiddlers Richard Greene (Bluegrass), Kathleen Keane (Irish), Laura Risk (Scottish), and Tom Sauber (old-time), Jeff’s reputation as a highly sought after pianist has been well established.

Rodney Miller was designated a “Master Fiddler” in 1983 by the National Endowment for the Arts and is widely considered to be the foremost exponent of New England-style fiddling, a unique American blend of French Canadian and Celtic influences. He has toured the US, British Isles, Australia and Denmark, performed at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and appeared on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. He founded the influential contra dance band Airdance and is presently enlivening the contra dance scene with The Stringrays, The Rhythm Raptors, and the Blue Ribbon Dance Band.

Barry Angell was a long-time fixture at our contra dances as a member of Hot Cider, the Foothills Contra house band, playing traditional Celtic, Canadian, Appalachian, and western swing tunes. Always looking for a smile, he takes more musical chances than might be prudent, so keep an ear out for his manic mandolin.

A newcomer’s orientation is offered at 7:30 pm, perfect for people who have not contra danced before, or who could use some refresher. Experienced dancers are invited to partner with newcomers during the orientation and early dances to help integrate them into the community.

No partners are needed, so come by yourself or with friends or with family. Potluck snacks are available at the break, and we encourage you to bring something to share. These events are accessible to people with disabilities.

For more information, and lost and found, contact Laura Leonelli, 916-549-7093, or email

Upcoming events:
March 17: English country dance at Camp Pollock
March 23: contra dance
March 24: Playford ball workshop
March 30: zesty contra dance

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