Raised in the cradle of Vermont’s Green Mountains, Mary Wesley found her way to a Burlington contra dance in the fall of 2005 and was immediately hooked. She was later happy to learn that the tradition is in her DNA – she is the granddaughter of two square dance callers!
It wasn’t long before she took to the mic herself. She started calling in 2008 and keeps a full schedule, which includes gigs up and down both coasts. Mary loves to share her infectious joy for traditional dancing with dancers of all ages and she has something to offer every crowd. After unearthing her grandparents’ collection of dance records she was inspired to start practicing patter and add some squares to her arsenal. She calls family and community dances with great joy and finds “chestnuts” absolutely irresistible.
After taking a course with Ralph Sweet and Nils Fredland at Pinewoods in 2011, Mary has also been working on building her repertoire of singing squares. Her calls are sure to make dancers smile and sing along.
In her local community Mary stirs many pots.
Mary is proud to be a founding member of the Mad Robin Callers Collective – an innovative consortium of dance callers who work together to provide peer support and create opportunities for callers of all experience levels. As a Mad Robin, Mary helps run a monthly dance series on 4th Fridays in Burlington, featuring the Collective at the mic. She helped found Burlington’s “On the Border Morris,” Vermont’s only Border side, and now serves as their Fore-woman. Mary also serves as an active board member of Young Tradition Vermont, a non-profit fostering youth involvement in traditional dance and music, for which she helps coordinate various workshops, concerts and an annual Youth Showcase.
Even off the dance floor Mary can’t stop talking about dancing – with the support of the Vermont Folklife Center she is conducting an oral history project to learn how contra dancers and members of the Capital City Grange in Montpelier, VT are working together to maintain a building and community that is dear to them (read more). In September, 2011 Mary stepped up as the new Youth Projects Intern for the Country Dance and Song Society, where she serves as a resource for young dancers, musicians, callers, singers and organizers.
When not dancing Mary moonlights as an archaeologist, museum caretaker and sometimes goatherd.