The World’s Largest Outdoor Square Dance will be held as part of the 2011 Action Week Festival. This free event, scheduled for Wednesday evening August 3rd, will feature some of the Island’s greatest fiddlers and one of the Island’s best “callers”. The musicians will occupy the Action Week Boardwalk stage and the dancers will spread out over the parking lot behind the Civic Centre in Sydney and onto the Boardwalk on the Sydney Waterfront.
Aaron Lewis, the Action Week Entertainment Director says, “We’ve assembled a great cast of musicians including Colin Grant, Chrissy Crowley, Dawn and Margie Beaton, Jason Roach and Allie Bennett. The round and square dance will feature Burton MacIntyre calling the sets. That means lots of great tunes and a chance for the established dancers and the beginners to have a fun time together!”
He adds, “Everyone will be invited to participate. We will have people that can show the non-dancers how to do it, so that they can participate and discover how much fun square dancing can be. But, if you just want to watch and listen, that’s fine too.”
The band leader for the event is Cape Breton fiddler Colin Grant. Grant has performed in the United States, France, China, and Indonesia. He has just returned from a tour of Maine and New Hampshire. He has received multiple nominations at the East Coast Music Awards and from the Canadian Folk Music Awards. Stephen Cooke of the The Halifax Herald, says “He’s everything you could hope for from a Celtic musician: energetic, adventurous, serious in his study of music but always eager to have a good time on stage and in the studio”.
Cape Breton fiddler Chrissy Crowley released her first album in 2007 at the age of 17. The CD garnered her a “Rising Star” showcase at the 2008 ECMA’s and selection as the CBC Galaxie’s Celtic Artist of the Month in May 2009. She has performed throughout Canada and the United States, and at events in Ireland, Scotland, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. She is a founding member of the Canadian-Cuban Celtic Society.
Dawn and Margie Beaton are sisters and award winning musicians from Inverness County, Cape Breton. Like their counterparts, Colin Grant and Chrissy Crowley, they have presented the Cape Breton fiddle style to rave reviews around the world with performances in China, Ireland and the United States. They received an East Coast Music Award for Roots/Traditional Group/Duo of the year for their first recording, Taste of Gaelic.
The World’s Largest Outdoor Square Dance will feature Grant, Crowley, and the Beaton sisters playing in unison, somewhat reminiscent of the Cape Breton Symphony, but with a contemporary flair.
When asked if this will be a record setting event, Phonse Chiasson, the Chair of the Action Week Festival committee says, “Our plan is to stage the world’s largest outdoor square dance. Obviously it’s up to the people of Cape Breton for the event to live up to its name. It’s another free event sponsored by our committee. And it’s being held in a great location with Sydney Harbour as the backdrop.”
The event runs from 7:30 until 9:30, or as Grant says, “until the band collapses … or until your feet hurt!”