2023 TAADA Board
Lissa Bengtson (President)
I was introduced to contra dancing at Austin International Folk Dancers by Chuck Roth. He would always call a contra after the break, and I was delighted because I could usually find a partner and not mess up too much. Every place I’ve lived I was able to find contra dancing (DFW, Denver, San Antonio) and where there wasn’t contra dancing I found like-minded folks to create it (Tulsa). I still love international folk dance, and have expanded into Scottish Country Dance and English Country Dance, as well as square dance and Israeli dance. The pandemic did a number on everybody–but let’s try to get all the joy and activity back that we had before it happened! If you’d like to discuss ideas: two one zero six twenty-seven fifty-nine forty.
Pamela Weems (Vice President)
I discovered international folk dancing in the 1980’s and contra and English in the late 90’s. It’s been a joy to be able to move to music and meet the most interesting people, while staying active both physically and mentally.
My hope is to be of assistance in growing the community’s awareness and involvement in traditional dance, music and song.
Catherine Best (Secretary)
I saw a group of contra dancers in 2006 and thought they were having great fun. Soon afterward I started contra dancing and have enjoyed ever since. Contra dancing is very welcoming to newcomers. I have met many other contra dancers in other communities that have weekend dances. The live music on Wednesday evenings is enjoyable.
Donna Baker (Treasurer)
I have great childhood memories of folk dancing at Girl Scout camp, and have been doing international folk dancing with AIFD. My sister is an avid dancer and on one of her visits to Austin, we decided to see what dance opportunities Austin had to offer. I think we went to 11 dance events that week and in the process discovered that we really liked English Country Dancing. It was fun, easy enough that even newcomers could enjoy it, the people were friendly, and the music was beautiful. Was barely getting my feet wet when the pandemic hit, so am really looking forward to being able to dance in person again.
Chuck Cross (At-Large)
A refugee from the big hair, shoulder pads, and terrible pop music of the early 1980s, I became a folkie and started contra dancing in 1982 while in graduate school in Pittsburgh. My wife Elaine and I met contra dancing and playing old-time music together back then, and we have danced in every place we’ve lived. Decades later I can barely imagine life without contra. I travel to a contra dance weekend or two almost every month and see the familiar faces of other dancers who are doing the same thing. Back in the day we were a roomful of sweaty 24-year-olds, and we dance as if that were still the case as we welcome new generations of dancers.
Jennifer Reinhardt (At Large)
My love of dance began in the late 90s, when I attended my first contra dance in Worcester, MA. It opened up a whole new world to me, and a very welcoming community, whether dancing close to home or traveling to faraway dances. Contra led to swing/lindy hop, West Coast swing, two-step, English Country dancing, even a brief flirtation with bellydancing, and I met my husband in a Blues dance class. After being a dance ‘consumer’ for all these years, I look forward to participating a bit behind the scenes now.
RosieLee Salinas (At-Large)
I started at the age of 10 dancing at events that are common in my Hispanic community, family celebrations and festivals. I have not stopped enjoying this art form since that early age. I have served on different boards supporting this art form, namely, The Folklore Society of Greater Washington, the Texas International Folk Dancers and the Austin International Folk Dancers. I have enjoyed the friends and experiences I have had serving in this manner. I do what I can to make folk arts, including dance, available and accessible to the broader community.
Stuart Spates (At-Large)
I did lots of musicals and theater performances in school and afterward, but really, my mother loved to dance and she had me dancing early in my life! In upper elementary school, we had weekly dances at the recreation center across the street from my school. We’d put on the records—Bop, Swing, Big Band, and more—and had a lot of fun. Later, I did International Dancing and then after moving to Austin I found out about Contra and English Country Dancing.
Linda Byers (San Marcos Rep)
I attended my first Contra Dance in 2001 and fell in love both with the dance and with the community that talks about where to dance next. I have been active on dance committees. I enjoy traveling for dance weekends and making new dance friends.
Linda Beamer (ECD Rep)
I have been doing contra and English country dancing since (egad) the early 1980s, when I met my husband-to-be, Ruven Brooks, at a contra dance in Connecticut. Ruven and I are proud to have hosted the first English country dance in Austin in 1994. It consisted of one dance, the only one I could remember in its entirety and for which we had danceable music. I take no credit for ECDs longevity in Austin (Dale Rempert started the first regular dance, and Ruven and I were away dancing in Wisconsin from 1996 to 2010), but I am delighted to be able to help keep it going now.
Become a member of TAADA
You can help us support traditional dance and music in Austin! TAADA members receive discounts at TAADA-sponsored events, can vote for the TAADA board candidates and changes to the bylaws, and are eligible to run for office.