Remembering Ted Sannella
I didn't know Ted Sannella REAL well. He moved to Maine about 12 years
ago and a couple years after that, Jim Spicer started the North Whitefield
dance on fourth fridays. This was "Ted's" dance and was an immediate success.
Actually it false-started a few times at various halls but ended up in
North Whitefield because that's where my friends John Pranio and Toki Oshima,
who were going to be the "house band", lived, and that was close to Ted's
and there was a nice hall there. I started doing the sound for the dance
and sitting in with the band on Bass or percussion occasionally. So I got
to see Ted in action from "behind the scenes" once a month. At first we
all thought he was a little stiff and demanding, well let's say I did.
Who was this guy coming in here from away, telling US what to do!!?? I
mean he seemed very fussy about how the band sounded and everything had
to be just so, and he had these lists of dances and tunes to go with them
printed up to pass out to the band before each dance, I mean really!! Of
course the dancers all seemed like they were having a good time and the
dance grew very quickly. And Ted and I became friendly and he always had
helpful suggestions about the dances. If I asked about a dance sequence,
he'd give me the card to copy it down and point out the important stuff
- often he'd do this while calling the dance at the same time. I mean this
guy was GOOD. Ted used to like to play his wooden spoons along with the
music sometimes. He'd beat them between his hand and chest, all the time
with this big grin. I used to play bottlecap rattle with the band sometimes,
too. One time we took a percussion break together on wooden spoons and
bottlecap rattle, me and Ted both with these big shit eating grins. John
saw it, said he wished he had had a camera. Anyway, everyone warmed up
to Ted and realized he really KNEW how to get the most out of any situation.
He had a gentle way with beginners that kept them coming back and a way
of making ANY dance seem fun for the experienced dancers. I think the Maine
experience loosened Ted up a bit, too. It was wicked fun working with him.
So now he's gone and we all miss him. There's so much more I would like
to ask him, but it's too late. But I think about him when I'm passing out
my sheets printed out with the dances and tunes before each dance....