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Math Trek

Contra Dances, Matrices, and Groups

By
1:00pm, March 5, 2003

Though unknown to many people, contra dancing is practiced with great devotion and abandon throughout the United States by fans of this lively dance form. What's striking is that a remarkably high percentage of contra dancing's practitioners are highly educated, often involved in mathematics, computers, or engineering.

The origins of contra dancing go back to colonial days, and its roots can be traced to English country dance. It has dance movements, or figures, that might remind you of traditional square dancing.

In contra dancing, the dancer

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