Brooke Friendly: Let's dance

Brooke Friendly thinks it's time for everyone to give English and Scottish country dance a whirl.

Friendly, who has managed arts and adult community education programs, has also taught folk and country dancing for 30 years, encouraging her students to move gracefully to a range of music, from "the lyrical to boisterous, silly to sublime."

Some of her classes are held through Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and in January, she starts a 10-week course on English country dance from Jane Austen's time to new compositions.

The aptly named Friendly also leads a weekly lesson for the community starting at 7:30 p.m. on Mondays at The Dance Space, 280 E. Hersey, No. 10. And she organizes English and contra dance events, camps and festivals across North America.

She has lived in Ashland since 1978, having moved here from Portland, and before that, Los Angeles and New York.

Favorite aspect about Ashland: Small town with lots of natural beauty and outdoor activities, plus theater and other cultural opportunities.

Give us a few career highlights: I was the director of the Arts Council of Southern Oregon and was running arts and community education programs at Southern Oregon University's Extended Campus Programs before it was disbanded, and then I became the director of the Ashland Center for Theatre Studies at SOU.

What gets your students' attention?: It's a dance class — moving to great music and the sociability of the dance form is what gets their attention.

How do you introduce yourself to your students?: Hi, I'm Brooke. Let's dance.

What do you do during your spare time?: Hike, practice yoga, read and work in my huge vegetable garden.

What do you still have on your to-do list?: Visit the Galapagos, ride ponies to explore Iceland, more dancing and walking in the U.K., travel and dance across the U.S. and Canada.

How can we learn more about you?: My website includes my published dance books and CDs.

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