Groups & Events
When it comes to young people getting involved in traditional music, dance, and song there are a lot of exciting things going on. This page provides a list of groups, events, and teams organized especially by and/or for young people, including contra and English dance groups, ritual/display dance teams, college groups, and facebook groups.
This page is not meant as an exhaustive catalog, but instead to highlight the creative and exciting ways that different folks are approaching the issue of youth involvement. If we missed your group or you know of an event that should be added to the list, let us know.
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Indicates an event/group has been a recipient of a grant from CDSS.
Contra, English, etc.
Boston Intergenerational Dance Advocates
Boston Intergenerational Dance Advocates (BIDA) is a new association promoting involvement in traditional dance and connecting generations in the Boston dance community. BIDA sponsors events, including dances, parties, jam sessions, and workshops, and work to encourage musicians and callers. Check them out on the web and on Facebook.
Maine Fiddle Camp
Nestled in the Maine woods, Main Fiddle Camp draws musicians young and old for workshops, concerts, dances, and immersion in New England and Canadian fiddle music and dance. ME Fiddle Camp is a truly intergenerational scene, with participants from young children through adults, and a staff that highlights talented young adults along with older teachers.
The Whipperstompers contra dance weekend took place in June, 2008. More than 100 folks from all over the east coast and midwest gathered for a weekend of sweaty dancing, great music, leadership discussions, and dance skills workshops. Keep your eye on the Whipperstompers web site for info on future events.
Mountain Folk Festival
Students in grades 4 through 12 get together each year for the Mountain Folk Festival at Berea college in Berea, KY. Now in its 73 year, the festival gives young dancers a chance to dance together, to learn a common repertoire, and to demonstrate their skills to other young people.
St. Louis Youth Contra
The Saint Louis Youth Contra is a monthly dance geared towards people in their teens and twenties and open to all ages. The event presents a range of dance traditions, including contra, English country, swing, and waltz. They've also developed a great group of young musicians and callers who often perform at the dances.
Homeschool Educators who Appreciate Dance
Homeschool Educators who Appreciate Dance (HEAD) is an organization headed by John Ramsay that helps homeschool families and groups learn how to organize English and American country dance events in their communities. HEAD put on a Leadership Workshop in St. Charles, MO, in September of 2008.
Youth Dance Weekend
Youth Dance Weekend is an annual youth-focused dance and music gathering that takes place at Farm and Wilderness in Vermont. The first YDW happened in 2008, and the next weekend is planned for September 2009. YDW is open to ages 18 and up and features a range of dance styles, including contra, English, swing, kerry sets, waltzing, and more.
Set to Music
Set to Music English Country Dancers sponsors English dances, formal Balls, and workshops in McMinville, OR. The group, organized by Laura Plett, has been tremendously successful at attracting young people to ECD, and has also trained a number of young callers. Check out the group's blog and info about their events.
Youth Weekend West
Youth Weekend West is an annual Scottish Country Dance workshop for youth ages 15-30ish. Information about the 2008 event in Vancouver is here. The 2009 weekend will take place in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Ritual/display dance teams
Clownfish Rapper is a youth team affiliated with the Vineyard Swordfish, and based in Martha's Vineyard, MA. Clownfish took a trip to the International Sword Spectacular in York, England, May 23-25, 2008, with the financial support of CDSS. Take a look at photos from the trip.
Great Meadow Morris and Sword
Great Meadow Morris is a group of high-school age dancers from the Boston area who perform Rapper and Morris dances. The Great Meadow umbrella includes youth sides like Candyrapper, Velocirapper, and others, under the instruction of Tom Kruskal.
Maple Morris is a group of young Morris dancers from throughout the Northeastern US and Canada who get together at least once a year to practice, develop new repertoire, and perform together. The fourth annual Maple Morris weekend took place in Ottowa in August, 2008, with 16 dancers gathering for a lively weekend of dancing, music and singing. See their article in the News.
Green Mountain and Maple Leaf Morris Dancers
Green Mountain (men) and Maple Leaf (women) are youth teams based in the Upper Connecticut River Valley of VT and NH, with participants in middle and high school. Under the direction of Chris Levey, Maple Leaf and Green Mountain perform various Morris and sword traditions.
Berea Festival Dancers
The Berea Festival Dancers are a talented group of (mostly) high school students who study and perform English, vintage American, Rapper, Morris, and various other styles of dance. They perform for demonstrations and festivals around Kentucky and on excursions further afield. In 2008 they traveled to Ireland and wrote about it on their blog.
The Swarthmore Folk Dance Club runs twice-weekly classes where students learn English, Scottish, and contra dancing (PE credit available). The classes feature live music organized organized and performed by students and recent alumni. The club also organizes a large annual English-Scottish Ball, runs a sword dance team, and puts on other occasional dance and music events.
Bryn Mawr and Haverford both have active student dance groups, including the Bi-college Scottish Country Dance group and the Bryn Mawr Folk Club. Students from Haverford and Bryn Mawr are active in the local Philadelphia dance scene and in events at other area colleges.
Appalachian State University
The Appalachian Heritage Council at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC provides entertainment rooted in Appalachian traditions for the campus community. The Council sponsors regular contra dances, as well as concerts, workshops, storytelling, and more.
Oberlin is an incredible hot bed of campus dance and music activity. The Oberlin Contra Club organizes regular monthly dances, featuring student callers and musicians with some off-campus band and caller appearances. The club also puts on the Dandelion Romp (now in its 10th year), an annual dance weekend with top national bands and callers that draws dancers from all over the Midwest. The Oberlin Folk Music Club organizes a folk festival every year with great, nationally-known bands. Over the years Oberlin students have taken advantage of the Experimental College program to offer classes in Morris, Rapper, contra, and a whole host of other dance and music related topics. The story of Oberlin's sword team KAOS is recounted in this article from the CDSS News.
The Brown University Contra Dance takes place on 1st and 3rd Fridays and features top New England bands and callers. The dance attracts a great mix of students and community members from the area. Brown alum and former Brown dance organizer Julia Nickles is the origin of the now famous (and effective) "Ants! Pants! Contra Dance!" publicity scheme, featured in the college Starter Kit.
Wesleyan has a thriving contra dance scene, thanks to a contingent of dedicated student organizers, dancers, and musicians with strong ties to Pinewoods and CDSS. The dance attracts large numbers of students, as well as dancers from off-campus. The Wesleyan dance doesn't have its own web site, but check out this article about the dance from the campus paper.
The MIT Folk Dance Club sponsors three nights of dancing each week, including contra, Israeli, and International sessions. The club welcomes students and the general public, also offers PE credit for students who participate in contra dancing.
University of Chicago
Old Farmers Ball / Warren Wilson
The Old Farmers Ball hosts a massive weekly contra dance that until recently took place at the campus of Warren-Wilson College in Swannanoa, NC (near Asheville). The dance moved to a new location after the dance hall ceiling collapsed (updates here), but continues to see large particiption by Warren Wilson college students who pay $1 admission to the dance.
Contra Dance Carolina organizes regular dances on the Campus of University of North Carolina at Charlotte (as well as other locations), featuring high-energy bands and callers, and involving students and members of the greater Charlotte community.
It seems like every week we hear of another college where students are putting on a dance. Here is a list of colleges we know about that have occasional dance events or Morris teams.
- Harvard University: The Harvard Outing Club organizes an annual contra dance that attracts upwards of 250 energetic students, most of whom are brand new to contra dancing.
- University of Vermont: various student groups at UVM, including the Eco-reps, the program board, and the Outing Club collaborate to organize several on-campus contra dances each semester.
- SUNY Binghamton: The Binghamton dance community collaborates with students from SUNY to organize occasional dance events on campus.
- University of Rochester (NY): CDSS supported a student-run dance at U. Rochester for students and members of the community in April, 2009.
- The University of Victoria (BC) has a Scottish dance group (the Caledonian Club), contra dance club, and several student Morris teams.
- Princeton University: CDSS supported a special event at Princeton in the spring of 2008 to introduce students to contra dance.
- Fancy Feet and Fingers, a student organization at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC teaches contra and swing dance and sponsors occasional dance events on campus.
Many traditional dance, music, and song organizations have found Facebook to be an incredibly useful way to publicize events, attract participants, and connect with other people who have similar interests. Here are a few Facebook groups of interest. If you are not a member of Facebook, you can sign up here.
- CDSS: from the CDSS group you can also find links to Facebook events and groups for our different camp programs.
- Contra Dancers: 2400 members and counting
- English Country Dance
- Young English Dancers
- Young Contra Dancers
- Morris won't die out: a response to press coverage of the supposedly imminent demise of Morris dancing; also a large association of Morris dancers all over the world
- Youth Dance Weekend