FAIR IN THE MAKING: Jim Thaxter to call contradance at Boone County Fair

Sunday, July 22, 2012 | 4:43 p.m. CDT
Jim Thaxter calls a contra dance Friday. Contra dance is a type of dance similar to square dancing. Thaxter said it is a great way to interact with other people who love to dance.

COLUMBIA — For Jim Thaxter, traditional dancing became a passion early in his life. He began dancing 35 years ago while he was in college, and school eventually took a backseat to dancing because dancing was “too much fun.” Thaxter helped bring contra dancing to the mid-Missouri area when he moved here in 1980 from Kansas City.

Contra dance, a relative of square dancing, was founded in the English countryside more than 200 years ago. It has drastically expanded all over the United States since the 1970s with the creation of thousands of new dances and a very strong following of beginners and long-time dancers. Thaxter said dancing is truly a community activity and focuses on “creating the dance together.”

After dancing for more than a decade, Thaxter “just kind of stumbled into” contra dance calling 23 years ago and has helped teach callers in the mid-Missouri area. In contra dancing, the caller's job is to direct the dance moves by announcing what move comes next. His favorite part of calling is teaching new people the basic moves. He said he starts the dances easy and enjoys watching people really grasp the idea of contra dancing. 

Thaxter will be calling an Old Time Barn Dance during the Boone County Fair at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in the Multipurpose Room to live old-time fiddle music. The dances are free to anyone attending the fair. 

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