Ralph Page

Ralph George Page (January 28, 1903 – February 21, 1985) was an American contra dancecaller. He was influential in spreading it from New Hampshire to the rest of the United States and other countries, and was recognized as an authority on American folk dance overall.

American contra dance caller

Ralph Page, c.1940s

. . . Ralph Page . . .

Page was born on January 28, 1903, in Munsonville, New Hampshire.[1] He grew up in Nelson, New Hampshire, where his Scottish-Irish American[2] family had lived for several generations as farmers.[3]

In 1934, he was elected selectman for Nelson by a five-vote margin over a more conservative incumbent, Harry Green.[3]

External image
Page calls a contra dance in Nelson, New Hampshire, in 1941

Page began calling (prompting) contra dances in 1930 accidentally, when he was scheduled to play for a dance in Stoddard but the caller developed laryngitis.[4][5] He took five days off per year from his work.[4] Every Tuesday, he travelled to the Clarendon Street YMCA in Boston to call contra and square dances.[4]

In 1944, Page was one of three founders of the New England Folk Festival Association.[4] He was its president for several years.[1]

Beginning in the 1950s, Page led folk dance camps across the United States.[5]

In 1956, the U.S. State Department sponsored Page to tour Japan.[4] During this trip, he called a dance for more than 4,000 people in a Tokyo stadium; he used hand signals, as he did not speak Japanese.[6]

In 1966, Page toured England and led workshops with the English Folk Dance and Song Society.[4]

Page opposed the modern western square dance movement, and criticized its complexity in his writings.[7]

. . . Ralph Page . . .

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. . . Ralph Page . . .

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