Camp Flyer in the Mail

Keep an eye on your snailmail box -- a colorful flyer about our 2011 camp programs is on its way to you. It lists the weeks, their dates and staff, and includes a registration form. (The flyer replaces the booklet we’ve sent in recent years.) You can read all about our summer programs in the Dance and Music Camps section of our website. New as well this year is online registration.

Award Celebration for Tom Kruskal

As previously announced, a celebratory party for Tom Kruskal, a 2010 CDSS Lifetime Contribution Award recipient, will be held on April 2 in Framingham, MA. You can see a flyer about it or go to the “Celebrate Tom!” page on Facebook. And be sure to read Pat MacPherson’s interview with Tom on our website.

Thank You

by Robin Hayden, Development

We are grateful to all our friends and members for the many ways in which they support our work, and we’re especially grateful to those who gave extra gifts through the fund appeal, to special funds and scholarships, matching gifts, etc. It’s our habit to recognize all these good people, and the list of 2010 donors is now online.

Remembering Mary Kay Friday ~ Ten Years Later

by Robin Hayden, Development

It occurred to us recently that this month marks the ten year anniversary of the death of Mary Kay Friday, and we have been reflecting on how much we still miss her lively presence, and how amazed and pleased we know she would have been to see how far we have come and how much we have done since her passing.

Mary Kay was a dancer, organizer, CDSS Board member, and emerging caller in the greater Washington, DC area. You can read more about her and about the CDSS Leadership Fund named for her on our website. It was a gift in her memory from her brothers that lit the spark for what became the New Leaders, Good Leaders campaign. Since the launch of that initiative, CDSS has awarded dozens of grants to groups and individuals to support workshops, regional conferences, new dance series, and mentorships; hired two youth interns; and published numerous resources to support leadership development.

Mary Kay, we wish you could be here to see it all, and to know that dance, music, and song are flourishing far and wide!

If you would like to honor Mary Kay’s memory on this anniversary, how about:

  • making a gift to CDSS in her memory
  • organizing a leadership workshop or conference in your community
  • including a dance written in her honor in your next program: Gary Roodman’s wonderful English dance "Mary K" (tune by Dave Wiesler), or Tom Hinds's contra dance "The Other Mary Kay's Reel." (You can find dance instructions in our store, in Gary's New Friends book and CD and Tom's book Dance All Night 2. Tom's dance is also included on page 33 of this free pdf.)

Blog Notes

by Max Newman, Youth Projects Intern

Where can you read about overcoming the “body-mind disconnect” through dancing, a morris game show, and Bugs Bunny's patter calls? The CDSS Blog! We've been enjoying the chance to share some of the topics that come across our desks. We hope you have, too. We're welcoming submissions and suggestions. If you have anything you'd like to blog about, let us know.

Newsletter Update & Preview

by Caroline Batson, CDSS News editor, and lydia ievins, Webmaster

Print & Online: Seeking More Input

We heard some eloquent reactions in response to our intentions to cease print publication of the CDSS News. We've decided to slow down a little to investigate more thoroughly how we can best reinvent its online presence to take advantage of features available to us here--color photos, videos, audio snippets, community interaction--while ensuring that we still meet the needs of our loyal readership. We'd love to have your input on our 5-minute survey about some possible futures.

In the Next Issue

The next issue of the News, Spring 2011, will be snailmailed around May 1st, and will include an essay (“Confessions of a Contra Dancer”), the “Yoga for Dancers” column (“Tackling the Calves”), and articles about the Exec meeting in Ann Arbor last fall, contra dancing in Montreal, a stage show about winter musical traditions and lore, and more.

Outreach Notes

by Linda Henry, Outreach Manager

Announcing... an upcoming leadership event co-sponsored by CDSS! Puttin' on the Dance: A Conference for Northeast Dance Organizers will happen on November 11-13, 2011 in White River Junction, VT. If you organize any English or American dance series (contra, square, English country, community, family, etc.) in the northeastern U.S. or Canada, join us for this rare and exciting opportunity. Meet with peers, share ideas, learn new skills, dance, have fun, be organizer geeks, and more! For more information: Contact Chrissy Fowler (ME), Delia Clark (VT), Linda Henry (MA):

And if you need support for a music and/or dance event or project, CDSS can help! See our Outreach Funds page to apply for a grant. The next deadline is April 1. Contact Linda Henry for logistical support and advice: or 413-268-7426 x 105.

CDSS to Cease Operations!

by David Millstone, Chairman, Nominating Committee

Aha! Caught your attention, did we? No, this organization is moving ahead with all manner of projects, but this doesn't just happen by chance. The staff works under the overall direction set by the CDSS Governing Board, a large group of hardworking volunteers who look at the big picture and hone a collective vision of where we're heading and what we want to be doing. Board members come from all parts of the United States and Canada, and represent varied interests in music, dance and song.

Bruce Hamilton's last year as president begins with the Board's annual meeting in May; several other at-large positions on the Board also will need to be filled. The CDSS Bylaws specify that the Nominating Committee each year submits a slate of qualified individuals. However, our committee of five needs your help finding candidates for the Board who possess the appropriate mix of skills, experience, energy, time, and teamwork style.

Look around your own community of individuals involved with traditional music, dance, and song. Think about folks you have met at weekends, conferences, and camps. Who are the shining lights? Who is looking to the future? Who has suggested innovative ideas and then worked with others to turn vision into reality? Who are the folks who are well organized, thoughtful, creative, responsible? Send them our way!

Board members must be members of CDSS. Especially welcome are people with professional experience in management, finance, human resources, fundraising, and publicity. Experience with small nonprofit organizations is certainly a plus. Of course, we want to know about active, creative people of all types, and we are especially interested in increasing the number of younger Board members.

If you have candidates to suggest (and this includes self nominations), send a short paragraph or two with the following information:

  • why you think they are a good Board candidate
  • what work/activities they do that are useful and relevant
  • what they do in the world of music, dance, and song
  • how to contact them by email, phone, and snailmail

Most of the work of the Nominating Committee takes place during the summer months, which means we need names for consideration by June 30. Please send your suggestions to the CDSS Nominating Committee chairman, David Millstone: or 176 Farnum Hill Road, Lebanon, NH 03766.


by Pat MacPherson, Education/Publications

21 Easy English Country Dances: Dances Selected from The Playford Ball with Music Selected from CDSS Recordings

People have been asking for this kind of booklet for years, so here it is! This booklet/CD set is designed for beginning dance leaders and dancers and should work as a wonderful resource for school teachers. It presents really good, easily understood and taught Playford dances with the excellent addition of highly danceable music. Helpful aids include a glossary of figures, steps, and formations; thoughts on the character of English dance; how the music fits the dances; plus additional online resources provided on the CDSS website.

It’s really the ultimate in recycling -- the dances are selected from The Playford Ball, the authoritative book of English dances and dancing co-authored by the late dance leader Genevieve Shimer and dance historian Kate Van Winkle Keller (CDSS, 1994). The cuts on the CD were selected from historical recordings produced by CDSS (CDS 1-9) plus two cuts from Country Capers (Arabesque Records).

The dances include: Black Nag, Childgrove, Christchurch Bells, Draper’s Maggot, The Duke of Kent’s Waltz, Epping Forest, The Fine Companion, Gathering Peascods, The Geud Man of Ballangigh, Heartsease, Hit and Miss, The Hole in the Wall, Indian Queen, Juice of Barley, Knole Park, The Queen’s Jig, Rufty Tufty, Sellenger’s Round, A Trip to Paris, Upon a Summer’s Day, and Zephyrs and Flora.

Learn more about this publication in our blog post, or find it in our Store.

Cecil Sharp’s Appalachian Diaries now online, transcribed and annotated

The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library of the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) has in its collection the only surviving copy of Cecil Sharp’s personal diaries from his trips to North America, 1915-1918.

We are proud to announce that CDSS has sponsored the transcription and annotation of the diaries, with funding from the Langstaff family, the Ithaka Foundation, and William Ritchie. The transcription project is dedicated to the memory and works of John (Jack) Langstaff, and is viewable at VWML Online.

On his first trip to North America, Sharp met with dance enthusiasts in New York (founding CDSS), and Boston (founding CDS-Boston Centre), including Mrs. Helen Storrow (owner of what became Pinewoods Camp), and made historic contact with Olive Dame Campbell, who had collected over 200 songs in the Appalachian region. Sharp decided that he had to make a thorough study of these songs and would need to visit the Southern mountains himself. In July 1916, with eventual funding from Mrs. Storrow, Sharp and his secretary, Maud Karpeles, travelled into the Appalachian Mountains to collect songs for the first time.

This was a purely amazing feat; Sharp was not robust physically but seems to have had deep reserves. As the EFDSS website says, “How on earth did this asthmatic, 56-year-old vegetarian survive in the heat and altitudes of North Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, and West Virginia, along with his young assistant, Maud Karpeles? How did he feel when he heard the news of the death of many of the young men of his English Folk Dance Society demonstration team in the trenches? And what did it mean to collect 1,600 tunes from people he considered direct descendants and carriers of British cultural traditions?”

For context, look at Dear Companion: Appalachian Traditional Songs and Singers from the Cecil Sharp Collection (EFDSS, 2004), sold in the CDSS Store, for a wonderful essay on Sharp’s and Karpeles’s adventures.

Farewell and Hello

A Note from Carol Compton, Operations Past

After ten years of working with a remarkable group of people and for a remarkable organization I am leaving the CDSS office for new adventures. When I arrived at CDSS in January of 2001 I was the first new hire in quite some time and a true "new kid on the block." What I found was a welcoming and dedicated community with whom and for whom I have had the distinct pleasure of working. A great deal has changed in ten years: the office went from two computers to a network, from a single email address to email for all, from a purely informational website to an online store, from publishing books to posting resources online, from looking for financial support for ourselves to offering support to the wider community. I never dreamt that I would spend a significant part of my professional life actually working to support traditions that have been a significant part of my family's history! As I move on professionally, I look forward to continuing my association with the CDSS community -- just from a different place in the set.

...and about Operations Now

Adina Gordon is our new Interim Operations Manager. Adina is an experienced contra and square caller, and is enjoying her first steps into calling English. She's delighted to have the opportunity to give back to CDSS, from which she's received so much.

Our New Webmaster

Since December, lydia ievins has been busy tackling a variety of projects involving our online presence. Several sections of the website have been spruced up and rendered more accessible: it is now much easier to register for camp, become a member, find advice about starting a dance, and more. Stay tuned for further improvements, including some much-needed upgrades to our store and a stronger connection between the website and the blog.