After nearly 20 minutes of contra dancing, Mary Merges of Colchester, Vt., regained her breath and took a drink of water. She was ready for more.
“I’m looking for a partner. It’s the last dance,” Merges said.
She was one of nearly 1,000 people at the Rosenberg Hall in the Saratoga Springs City Center Saturday night as part of the annual Dance Flurry, a festival of traditional dance and music featuring workshops and performances from more than 400 artists representing global cultures. Today ends the three-day festival, which begins at 9 a.m. with a Sacred Circle Dance workshop at the Melita Ballroom of the Saratoga Hilton and continues with events until 6 p.m.
It’s a festival that has kept Annie Seeley coming back since 1992. This year, she’s fallen in love with the tango. Last year, it was Bollywood dancing. She said such high-quality dancing of different styles is unique.
“Moments of dance ecstasy achieved here don’t happen anywhere else,” Seeley said. “It’s uncommonly fabulous.”
Audience members tapped their feet to the efforts of about a dozen musicians gathered at Temple Sinai for the “Fiddle Jam.”
One man closed his eyes to listen to the melodies and experience the fusion of many fiddles playing as one.
“You are my trusted melody makers,” lead instructor David Kaynor said to the impromptu group of fiddlers.
Dance Flurry also brings together young and old and people from diverse backgrounds.
University at Albany senior Greg Ward said last year was his first time at the event. This year, he’s back as a volunteer, which gives him free access. Ward was on the dance floor doing the Balboa while the Doc Scanlon Trio played.
“It’s a dance I’ve never done before, and I learned something new,” Ward said.
The event helps people actually learn how to dance, he said.
“Before, I had been just making stuff up as I went along,” Ward explained about his previous ballroom dancing knowledge. “There’s not a lot of venues at my university for ballroom dance.”
The power of dance unites people, according to Akwaaba Ensemble member Saeed Abbas, who’s been teaching for 32 years. He was one of several who performed in the Dance Around the World event at the Music Hall.
“I love to teach people,” the Ghanian performer said.
For Vermont resident Sophie Theriault, it’s the people she meets at Dance Flurry that has kept her coming back for more than five years.
Her “flurry friends,” as she calls them, are people she looks forward to seeing every year in addition to indulging in her favorite types of dance — swing and blues.
The atmosphere allows novice dancers not to feel strange for not having all the right moves, she said.
“It’s uniquely friendly in that,” she said. “I love dance.”