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The Society of Folk Dance Historians (SFDH)

Dudley and Jaqueline Laufman

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Jacqueline and Dudley Laufman 1998


Information: Dudley Laufman, musician, caller, choreographer, and author of books about contra dance.

Since 1986, Dudley and Jacqueline have been playing for dances as Two Fiddles. Prior to that, Dudley, who has been playing and calling dances for over fifty years, has been the leader of the Canterbury Country Dance Orchestra, the first dance band to make an LP recording, in 1971, of the New England jigs and reels most often used for dancing.

As dance fiddlers, Dudley and Jacqueline have an earthy sound that combines with the beating of their feet as they call out the figures for old time New Hampshire barn and square dances. They are self-taught and play by ear, having learned by the oral tradition. They continue this tradition through their own students and apprentices.

Two Fiddles has toured widely throughout the northeast as well as the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, Hawaii, Québec, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Minnesota. They have a small ballroom in their Canterbury, New Hampshire, home where they hold dances whenever there is a fifth weekend.

The kinds of dances they do are Virginia reels, circle dances, square and contra dances, and dances from the colonial period to the present. Everyone is able to join in the dances; no experience needed.

They play in barns, private homes, town halls, schools, fairs, festivals, weddings, camps, Elderhostel's, etc. They average about 300 engagements per year and are often booked six to nine months in advance.

Most of their work is in New Hampshire, but they also travel to other parts of New England, United States, and Canada. They were selected to represent traditional dancing at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival 1999 in Washington, DC.

Dudley began calling dances in l948. Jacqueline began playing fiddle in l986. They live on the edge of the woods in a little house they built themselves. Besides the dance hall, it has one main room, with a loft overhead, and a bedroom to one side.

In 2009, Dudley was awarded the nation's highest honor in the folk and traditional arts, the National Heritage Fellowship, which is bestowed by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The house is heated with wood, no television, but three cats. A big garden provides much of their food. They do have a car, telephone, electricity, video cassette player, and a computer for their business, and a computer for Dudley's writing. They live this way by choice because it is fun and an adventure.

Portsmouth is their favorite city in New Hampshire but they enjoy visiting Québec City, Canada, especially in winter. They like good books, movies, and special food at holidays. They often go hiking, cross country skiing, and canoeing.

Dudley is interested in tornadoes, lacrosse and ice hockey. He has edited a manuscript of his poems. Jacqueline likes being creative in many mediums, teasing Dudley and beating him at hockey.

Playing their fiddles for dancing is what they love best.

Dudley's articles and publications include

Dudley and Jaqueline have recorded music which is available from Dudley himself, including Where'd You Get Them Great Chunes, with Dudley and Jaueline Laufman and the Sugar River String Band (CD released October 2006). Check their website.

Dances Dudley and Jaqueline have taught include Big Circles, Birdie in the Cage, Brandy, Chimes of Dunkirk, Contras, Crooked Stovepipe, Fallen Leaves, Grand March, Grande Salute, Hinky Dinky, Old Cotillionb, La Bastringue, Lancer's Reel, Low Backed Car, Marching Through Georgia, Morgan Magan 2, Mozart, Paul Jones, Polkas, Portland Fancy, Rye Waltz, Sir Roger de Coverly, Squares, Virginia Reel, Waltzes, and Wedding Reel.

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