Justin Morrison (Burlington, VT) has been a part of song and dance communities in Canada and the US for as long as he can remember. He earned his first Pinewoods crew t-shirt around age 7, and has taught Morris classes there in (much) later years. During a tour with the dance collective he co-founded, Maple Morris, Justin won the Best New Entrant prize at the Sidmouth Folkweek Morris jig competition in 2011 and respectfully declines to mention how many other new entrants were performing that year. In 2013, he was an organizer and artistic director of an international Morris stage show for Maple, which brought together dancers from Canada, the US, and the UK. He currently travels various distances to enjoy English, Contra, and song, and dances Morris with the Toronto Morris Men, Pinewoods Morris Men, and Thames Valley International.
In his professional life, he is an educator of young children, and seeks to bring singing and music into the classroom every day. He has been excited to share songs with colleagues to bring into their own rooms and even teach them to play mandolin. He often reflects on how his time leading Morris teams informs his experience as a teacher.
Justin feels that dance and song can find a chord in all of us, and comprise a natural language understood by young and old alike.
Luanne Stiles (Asheville, NC) discovered traditional dance later in life upon spotting an advertisement in the local Amherst, MA, newspaper for a Monday night English country dance. She thought, “‘No experience needed, no partner needed, all dances taught,’ that’s me!” Her love of the variety of dance tempos, amazing musicians, thoughtful teaching, and a generous community had her immediately hooked. For over 15 years, Luanne has danced extensively in communities and at camps throughout the Northeast and Southeast as well as California, Ohio, Illinois, and Canada. Luanne organized dance events in Massachusetts, and, after moving to the Carolinas, she and her husband John lead a biweekly ECD in South Carolina. After moving to Asheville, she continues calling and has joined the Ashegrove Garland team. It was the move south that really drove home the support CDSS provides to its affiliates. She was a community member on the Fund Development Committee for the past two years and is happy to continue to “pay it forward” by contributing as a board member. Luanne believes that her professional experiences within the corporate world of insurance services will serve to assist CDSS’s vision and goals.
Marni Rachmiel (Seattle, WA) grew up outside Detroit and studied Music History/Musicology at the University of Michigan, where she played & sang in concert bands, Early Music Ensemble, Javanese Gamelan, and the U-M Gilbert & Sullivan Society. She started dancing and playing for contra and English dances in 1990 in Albuquerque, NM, when she stumbled into a Bare Necessities weekend that totally changed her life. Returning to Michigan, she was active in the Ann Arbor dance and music scenes and became an avid dance-wanderer, including pilgrimages to Buffalo Gap and Pinewoods.
Shifting west in the later ‘90s, Marni danced and played in and around Boulder, CO, while getting her MA in Contemplative Psychotherapy at Naropa University. The siren song of the Northwest Folklife Festival drew her further west to Seattle, where she moved in 2004.
Marni’s band Contra Sutra actively tours and has played weekends up and down the West Coast and around the Southeast so far. She also plays in Reverie and The End Effects, among other dance band configurations, and for many years has been part of the wacky Fremont Philharmonic, stage band for Seattle’s British Panto and Moisture Festival. She’s composed a handful of tunes, including “Violet,” the title track of Reverie’s CD that now has a locally-grown ECD to go with it.
Marni also serves on the boards of the Seattle Folklore Society and FAR-West (Folk Alliance Region West). She and her husband Robert Orr co-host Two Pools House Concerts.
Peter Baker (Ann Arbor, MI) began square dancing in 7th grade in Bay County, MI. He was introduced to contra and ECD in the early 1980’s, and within six weeks was attending Kentucky Summer Dance School and Berea Christmas Country Dance School. He began leading dances because there was no dancing within 100 miles of where he lived. He later became staff for Kentucky Heritage Institute dance camps. Peter leads contra and community dancing. He believes dancing is for everyone and has lead numerous events for “non dancers”, including organizing the 1998 Guinness Book of World Records “Longest Contra Line” in Ann Arbor. He leads dances in schools, churches, street festivals, and wherever he is invited to share this passion. He has been an active organizer and leader in the Ann Arbor Community for Traditional Music and Dance.
Peter has also been organizing folk events since the mid-1980’s, starting with the Dow Gardens Folk Festival in Midland, and has been a co-founder of several organizations and events including the Midland Country Dance Society (1984), the Michigan Dance Heritage organization (1987), Dancing in the Streets in Ann Arbor (1998), and most recently, the new CDSS Dance, Music and Spice Camp at Camp Cavell (2016) in Michigan.