“We start in a line, but it’s not line dancing.
There’s a caller, but it’s not square dancing. We swing, but that’s a technical term,” Ross Geoghegan is quick to point out as he and colleague Susannah Gal demonstrate contra dancing.
Geoghegan, Bartle professor of mathematics, and Gal, professor of biological sciences, along with their spouses, are enthusiastic, active dancers.
Twirling and spinning their way through a photo shoot, with tinny music streaming from a computer, the two make a case for contra dancing: It’s all about movement, energy and music — always live music.
Gal grew up dancing. Her husband, Hilton Baxter, program coordinator for the Institute of Student-Centered Learning, was introduced to contra dancing when Gal brought him home to meet her parents, who arranged a dance for the occasion. Now he calls and writes dances.
Dancing is like a mathematical problem involving time, distance and patterns, Gal says. The caller propels pairs of dancers through a series of moves until, at the end of 32 measures of music, people will have danced with everyone in their line.
“It is pretty cool in terms of the timing and the physical topology,” she says.
Geoghegan, the mathematician, doesn’t care about the patterns and the counting. “I like it for the release, the emotion and the fun. It’s completely different from anything I’ve done.”