Weaving together movement and history, Mark Matthews teaches students community dances like squares, contras and circles or couples dances like the jitterbug, waltz, two-step and foxtrot while explaining the history behind the dances. He focuses on how Native American, European and African styles of dance and music blended together to form America’s unique popular culture. Dancing encourages eye contact, is a way to playfully interact, and teaches respectful physical contact in a setting that includes both genders. Like sports, dancing improves physical coordination and cardiovascular health, as well as relieving tension and strengthening social bonds.
At the end of Mark’s intensive workshops with students, community members are often invited to public dances in the evening where children share their new skills and knowledge with parents and friends.
Mark Matthews lives in Hysham, Montana. He is a historian and the author of Swinging through American History. He has studied ballroom dancing and teaches and calls community dances such as squares and contras.