By Denise Richardson
The Daily Star
---- — A series of dances will swing into Oneonta starting Thursday.
Oneonta’s Spring Swing Dance Series for all ages will be at the historic Oneonta Theatre, 47 Chestnut St., on the fourth Thursdays of February, March, April and May. Lessons will be from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. and live music will set the tone from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Nonprofit organizations First Night Oneonta and Friends of the Oneonta Theatre are collaborating on the series, which was inspired to help build the area’s social dance scene, said Carol Mandigo of LEAF Council on Alcoholism and Addictions in Oneonta.
“This is a great way for everyone in the community to get out of the house and literally shake off the winter blues,’’ Mandigo said Tuesday.
Community members and organizations interested in the project have contributed more than $6,000 in cash and in-kind donations toward making the series happen, a media release said. The series is billed “to benefit the Friends of the Oneonta Theatre and First Night.”
The $10 admission price includes a one-hour dance lesson with Mark Growdon, a swing and ballroom dancer, the release said. Beginners and singles are welcome.
Growdon, who is volunteering to teach, came up with the idea for the dances, Mandigo said, and the series is the first collaboration between First Night and FOTOT. The event will promote not only the theater but also the community, the arts and culture, she said.
“We hope to do a lot more in the theater,’’ said Mandigo, a co-chairwoman of First Night Oneonta.
Blues Maneuver, a seven-piece swing and blues band with local members, will be playing at the four dances.
“The music is awesome,’’ Mandigo said. “It would be good to just come and listen.’’
Friends of the Oneonta Theatre held an open meeting in January to get ideas for saving the historic theater owned by Tom Cormier. After Cormier announced in December that he would close the theater Jan. 1 for financial reasons, he and FOTOT members met and began to work on options for the long-term viability of the venue, which was built in 1897.
Cormier, who bought the theater in 2009, said he plans to attend Thursday’s dance.
“It’s something a little different and it fits with the interior of the theater,” Cormier said Tuesday. “It sounds like fun.”
The Oneonta Theatre will remove its front section of seating downstairs to create dancing space, the release said, and a variety of “retro sodas” and non-alcoholic drinks will be available.
LEAF is among sponsors, which also include Benson Agency Real Estate, Five Star Subaru and Savor New York.
For more information, call Mandigo at LEAF at 432-0090, ext. 106, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.facebook.com/FNOneonta.