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Old Farmers' Ball Contra Dance

The Old Farmer's Ball in Bryson Gym

February 2010

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News & Events

Old Farmer’s Ball
Hope for Haiti
CNN International features life in the EcoDorm
Janis Ian’s Pearl Foundation establishes WWC scholarship
Did you know?
Help title the WWC Yearbook
Wangchuk wins international fellowship
Elena Law (1911-2010)
Appalachian food traditions
Fever/Dream in WWC Theatre
Naomi Tutu returns to campus
In the media
Links

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Old Farmer’s Ball

Every Thursday night, Bryson Gym fills with a mix of local community members and Warren Wilson students. The gathered dancers pair off and line up, partner facing partner. The music starts, the caller shouts into his microphone, and the dancers are off into a fast, energetic contra dance. There is a long history behind this gathering of dancers that professor Phil Jamison says is a landmark dance in the contra world. The Old Farmer’s Ball is traced to a local man named Raymond Peak, who built a dance hall on Warren Wilson College Road in the mid-1930s. He held a popular dance every Saturday night that he called the Farmer’s Ball, which featured square dances. In the 1950s, Peak sold the dance hall.

In 1982, five local dance callers, including Jamison, reopened the dance hall and started the Old Farmer’s Ball. It began with a mix of square and contra dances. A handful of WWC students would hitchhike down the road on Thursday nights to participate. In 1993, a massive snowstorm collapsed the roof of the dance hall, and the College offered to host the dance in Bryson Gym. “On a typical Thursday, it’s a mix of college students and local people. Even high school people go,” says Jamison. He credits the College students with drawing an unusual number of local teenagers to a dance that, in many other parts of the country, is primarily an older folks’ activity. “It’s one of the younger and more energetic dances in the country,” he says.

One regular dancer at the Old Farmer’s Ball is Able Allen ’10. “I’ve only missed 10 dances since I’ve been on campus,” says Allen ’10, an NC native who grew up contra dancing. He came to the Old Farmer’s Ball before enrolling at WWC and says the dance was a factor in his choice to attend the College. “The community here really gets the idea of cohesion with the band and the caller and the dancers,” Allen says.

“When the dance moved to campus in ’93, it was a merging of two things –the College and the dance,” Jamison says. “I think it benefited both.”

by Lizzie Greene ’10

Old Farmer’s Ball on YouTube
Old Farmer’s Ball photo gallery

Tom gets shaved

Hope for Haiti

You could just feel the love –and lots of it –at the Hope for Haiti benefit Feb. 15 in DeVries Gym. The College’s Department of Athletics and Adventure Sports organized an evening of basketball and other activities, including a silent auction and halftime step show. One highlight was the culmination of the weeklong national anthem contest. Community members cast their vote for one of six singing candidates by dropping money in designated buckets. A mysterious contribution surge just before the pregame singing put biology professor Louise Weber over the top and onstage. Thanks to some impressive octave management, “Sweet Lou” did an admirable job of belting out our national anthem as the crowd joined in. “The wonderful thing I learned is that the national anthem is not a solo, it's a sing-along,” she later observed. “I was heartened by the swell of voices that joined in, starting with the first line.” The night also featured some losses –hair losses. In these fundraising efforts, Athletics Director Stacey Enos got a haircut and Landscaping Supervisor Tom LaMuraglia parted with his 37-year-old mustache. The Hope for Haiti event raised $3,340 for Red Cross relief efforts in the hard-hit country.

CNN International features life in the EcoDorm

A four-minute EcoDorm story appears in the February "Eco Solutions" program on CNN International. Watch the feature.

Janis Ian’s Pearl Foundation establishes WWC scholarship

The Pearl Foundation, founded by Grammy Award winner Janis Ian and named in honor of her late mother, has established The Pearl Foundation Scholarship. The scholarship, endowed with an initial principal of $60,000, benefits full-time students with demonstrated financial need who have been out of school for several years.

Did you know?

Sandy Pfeiffer was the first president of a private college or university in North Carolina to sign the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). He now serves on the ACUPCC Steering Committee and is co-chair of the Academics Sub-Committee.

Help title the WWC Yearbook

The Warren Wilson Yearbook has gone through multiple titles. The Yearbook Crew hopes to solve the yearbook’s identity crisis by establishing a new, permanent title. The Yearbook Crew seeks title ideas from the entire WWC community. Please give us your ideas.

Wangchuk wins international fellowship

Religious studies professor Tsering Wangchuk has won a competitive Ping Faculty Development Fellowship from the Council of International Educational Exchange. He will participate in the summer 2010 program, “Religion, Ecology, and Identity in Tibet.” Wangchuk, an American citizen of Tibetan descent, teaches Tibetan Buddhism and speaks fluent Tibetan. His participation in this program will enhance his courses and help him develop a new course on Buddhist Monasticism. While in Tibet, Wangchuk also expects to make continuing contacts with scholars and religious figures who will enhance his teaching and scholarship, as well as foster student exchanges and direct a future study-abroad course for WWC students.

Elena Law (1911-2010)

Former secretary of the College Elena Law died Feb. 12 at her home in La Jolla, California. She joined the College staff in 1945. “She did whatever was asked of her –always with a smile,” remembers Pat Laursen, former alumni relations director. If you have memories of Ms. Law, share them by emailing Shannon Senn, ssenn@warren-wilson.edu.

Appalachian food traditions

Ethnobiologist Gary Nabhan will give the lecture “Appalachian Food Traditions: Rare and Endangered Food Plants and Animals of Southern Appalachia” on Feb. 26. Nabhan’s talk, free and open to the public, begins at 7:30 p.m. in Canon Lounge. Nabhan will present the results of new research on the native food species of the Southern Appalachians. Info: Laura Lengnick, 828.771.7003 or lengnick@warren-wilson.edu.

Fever/Dream in WWC Theatre

Swannanoa gets a taste of surreal corporate intrigue with Warren Wilson Theatre’s production of Sheila Callaghan’s wise and witty new play, Fever/Dream. The productions takes place March 4-6, 8 p.m. and March 7, 2 p.m., Kittredge Theatre. Tickets are free for students, $5 for seniors and WWC alumni, and $10 for general admission. Ticket info: 828.771.3040 or email the theatre.

Naomi Tutu

Naomi Tutu returns to campus

The Environmental Leadership Center’s Sustainability Speakers program features Kim Elena Bullock, sustainability manager at Counter Culture Coffee on March 4, 3-5 p.m., Canon Lounge. On April 1, 7:15 p.m., Kittredge Theatre, Naomi Tutu will present “Striving for Justice: Searching for Common Ground.” Tutu will address the critical need to incorporate social justice and community building into sustainability commitments. She was the Commencement speaker at the College in 2003.

In the media

Sarah Haggerty '00 offers animal tracking class at Piedmont Wildlife Center

Asheville workers take energy training at WWC

Swannanoa farmers' conference at WWC

Teacher stories: Growing good people through work, study and community

How to Cross the Atlantic in a Rowboat –Alone

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Look for spring Owl & Spade

In the spring issue, you’ll see a photo of Doc Jensen strumming his guitar and read the reminiscences of Aida Torres White ’41. If you’re not a subscriber, email John Bowers with your name and address.

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Links

Visit the campus bookstore online to shop for WWC T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats and other college flair.

Inside Warren Wilson College

Events Calendar

WWC Athletics

The Green Calendar

Owl & Spade

Catalyst – environmental news

Physics Photo of the Week

The Story Behind



WWC on Flickr

WWC on Twitter

WWC on YouTube

“True Life: I'm A Warren Wilson Student”

WWC Emergency Information Line
(828) 258-4521

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