On November 3, the Brysonville Schoolhouse gathered once again for a community dance and evening of live music. This most recent edition was organized at the request of Kerwin Barrington, a dancer who grew up in Howick and who is now working on a project that centres on the history of dance in the Valley.
Barrington paid for the hall and helped organize the event. About 50-60 people showed up for the evening, including some of the dancers Barrington is working with to create her project about dances of the Chateauguay Valley. This way, they could experience the culture first-hand and witness the traditions of the Valley.
The night was filled with square dancing and the music of fiddles, pianos, and a stand-up bass. One of the Brysonville organizers, Bruce Barr, shares that “The music was non-stop.” Also present was local dance instructor Neva Shelton and a few of her young students – a “full-circle moment” for Barrington, who took ballet with Shelton many years ago.
To represent the French-Canadian side of the Valley, Pierre Savarin of the Association Québécoise de Loisirs Folkloriques Sud-Ouest led the room in contra-dance, which Barr explains is “the francophone version of the square dancing that I learned. It was wonderful to see a full dance floor and everyone’s smiles!” He adds, “These social events have deep roots in our Valley’s traditions, and it was nice to see the mix of youth and adults.” The night also had a luncheon where people could share a meal and get to know one another.
This sort of experience, says Barrington, made her think of her time learning dance in Benin, Africa, where people from around the world gather and share their own movement practices. She says it was great to see a piece of that happening here.
The Brysonville Schoolhouse’s next event will happen on December 1. This will be the annual Christmas concert, which will take place at the Georgetown Church; audience members can expect singing instead of dancing at this edition.