Forks’ Rainforest Council for the Arts will host its first contra dance of the year Friday, May 5, at 7:30 p.m. The Rainforest Arts Center, 35 N. Forks Ave., is the venue and admission is free for all; Rodney Miller, along with his longtime friend David Cahn on guitar, will supply the live music until 10:30 p.m. while Michael Karcher calls and cues the dances.
Karcher has guided contras from Montana’s Bear Hug Mountain Festival to Nevada’s Burning Man camp.
Miller, was named a master fiddler by the National Endowment for the Arts.
“This is a chance to hear live, traditional music; that alone is a treat,” said Miller, who has brought his singing fiddle to Oberlin College in Ohio and to the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, among many other gatherings.
“This fiddle music reaches deeply into the roots of where we came from,” he said.
“I play pretty hard … I dig in,” while keeping a keen eye on the dancers, since this musician seeks to play off of their steps.
“I’m there,” Miller said, “to provide as much energy as I can with my fiddle.”
Karcher, for his part, has been having the time of his life calling around the U.S. and Canada since 2011. He has honed a warm and concise style of teaching and calling.
“The caller is aware that a lot of people will be brand new,” so he’ll be keeping it simple and light, said Roger Lien, an organizer of Friday’s dance.
Miller is looking forward to his Forks gig, having visited the schools here with the Port Angeles Symphony’s Adventures in Music program last October. During those visits, he introduced youngsters to the New England contra-dance sound.
At any of these dances, those new to contra have nothing to fret about, the fiddler said.
The caller will teach you what you need to know. He’ll school you on how to balance with a partner, Miller said: how to swing in a circle — “it’s like riding a scooter; you sort of scoot around with your back foot” — and next thing you know, you’re moving through the line, changing partners and riding the train.
“It isn’t that hard,” he promised.
“Come and enjoy the sense of community.”