‘Larks and ravens’: a new spin on contra dancing

Couples join hands for the First Saturday Contra Dance in a large room at the Carrboro Century Center. This evening, directions were called out over the music by Emily Rush, who uses the gender-neutral terms “larks” and “ravens” to refer to partners. (Sierra Pfeifer / Carolina Connection)

Contra dancing is a popular folk dance throughout the Appalachian region that has origins in the 17th century … but now it’s incorporating some 21st century changes. Some dances are moving away from the traditional pairings of “ladies and gents” and going gender-neutral.

As Sierra Pfeifer reports, it’s a big transition for an activity that hasn’t changed much in 200 years.

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