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Square dancing at the Walker this Saturday

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​About a year and a half ago, photo/video artist Amanda Lovelee was completing her thesis at MCAD when her group of friends decided to go square dancing. Afterwards, her friend said that it was the most that she had been touched in years.

That got Lovelee thinking. How often do we touch strangers, and where? The word often brings up the negative connotations of "bad touch." But when can it be positive?

In order to explore this further, Lovelee embarked on making a documentary about the Twin Cities' square dancing community. Titled Call & Answer, it premieres this weekend at the Walker Art Center.

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During the making of the documentary, Lovelee decided that she wanted the project to go beyond the scope of the film. She started talking to the curatorial staff at the Walker Art Center about doing a large square dance on their lawn. "It's become a lot more than a film," Lovelee says. "It's an interactive piece." 

Over the summer, she presented the project at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts as part of Northern Spark, an all-night, citywide celebration of the arts. Participants could square dance, and were given a free piece of pie if they had their picture taken holding hands with a stranger.
Lovelee says she's interested in square dancing--Minnesota's state dance--because it makes her smile. But she's also interested in it because so much of what she read in graduate school was about the collapse of community in American society. "There's no place or space where we gather," she says. "Communication happens online." Lovelee's interested in creating opportunities for interaction where folks wouldn't normally find it, giving opportunities for people to connect with their neighbor. 

Square Dancing at Northern Spark

Square Dancing at Northern Spark

At the Walker's Free First Saturday guests can learn to square dance from 1 to 3 p.m. Local square-dance caller Ann Carter will guide participants in a traditional square dance. As the event progresses, she'll encourage the dancers to find a partner they don't know, and strangers will meet and interact. Music will be provided by a group of musicians who regularly play at Monday night's square dance at the Eagles Club in south Minneapolis. The bar has been hosting square dancing for the past 30 years.

Earlier in the day Lovelee's photo booth will be open and people can have their picture taken with a stranger to receive a free book imparting life lessons learned from square dancing. The books were made during Northern Spark.

After this weekend, there will be another chance to experience Lovelee's square dancing on September 24, when the Walker heads over to St. Anthony Park for a full day of events.

IF YOU GO:

Free First Saturday

Walker Art Center

Free

10 a.m. to 3 p.m.