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.
Susie Lorand (Ann Arbor, MI) has been a CDSS member for most of her adult life. She had few opportunities for dancing before college, but pursued classical violin training in central Michigan and at Interlochen Arts Academy. Then the student folk musicians at Earlham College decided to “corrupt” her into a fiddler.
Later she spent many years in the central New Jersey and Philadelphia dance communities, playing for English, contra, colonial, morris, and sword dancing (when not dancing herself). Leadership roles there included coordinating the Princeton Country Dancers pick-up band, co-directing Rum & Onions, serving on the PCD executive committee and the Lambertville Country Dancers board, and writing the PCD Newsletter.
Susie has appeared on the music staff of dance weeks at Pinewoods, Buffalo Gap, and Berea, and numerous weekends and festivals. Now in Ann Arbor, she performs with the “Celtic roots” band Nutshell, directs music for Scottish dancing, plays for English, contra, and morris, co-directs the local Threshold Choir, serves on the AACTMAD board, and dreams of getting back into Renaissance music for voices and recorders. She enjoys welcoming and helping new dancers of all ages as well as mentoring musicians. In her spare time she works as an editor and librarian.
David Shewmaker (Washington, DC) grew up dancing in St. Louis and various festivals with his family. He started Contra dancing as a child, first at the Foxhollow Festival, then with the Childgrove Country Dancers in St. Louis, where he learned to flat foot to the Old Time music that was prevalent at the local dances. He is a founding member of Capering Roisters Morris in St. Louis, a former member of the Marlboro Morris Men in Massachusetts, the founder of Cutting Edge Sword in Washington, DC, served on the Board of Directors of the Folklore Society of Greater Washington as both Dance Chair and Vice-President, and was a sound tech for the St. Louis and DC dances.
Over the last 40 + years, he has volunteered for numerous festivals, ales, community radio and countless events. He first attended Family Week at Pinewoods as a child, returned as a teenager to volunteer, and spent many summers cooking and dancing at Pinewoods, with stints in the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s. He is a fierce advocate for traditional dance and music: Contra and Square dancing is home base, English is his favorite, Balkan is mesmerizing, Irish Sets, Scottish, Scandinavian, Swing, Cajun, Zydeco, Slow Blues, Latin have all had a place in his life. He is a drummer, and enjoys singing and playing English Concertina. He has enormous gratitude for the extended dance and music community that sustains his life. He is a professional chef, and brings the same sense of community and interconnection to his work life that he finds in his dance life.
Doug Plummer (Seattle, WA) was born in Chambersburg, PA in 1955, attended Antioch College in Ohio, and graduated from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA in 1980. He started taking photos and making prints in the darkroom at 6, learning the craft from his father. After college, and after a detour as a bird research field grunt, he turned to making a living with his cameras. He is now an established commercial photographer and filmmaker in Seattle.
He started contra dancing in Seattle in the mid 1980s, and he started photographing the dances then too. His photography assignments take him frequently to the East Coast, where he always finds a dance to attend and photograph. Since 2012 he has self-published the Contradance Calendar, a photo showcase exhibiting the vibrant life of the tradition. He made a series of short films for Northwest Folklife, and he is beginning work on a documentary film project on one of the CDSS tour communities, Coos Bay, OR. He is also a new piano player and is already in a contra dance band. He lives in Seattle with his wife, Robin Shapiro, and their cat, Shadow.
Pam Paulson (Waukesha, WI) has lived in WI all of her life and started contra dancing in Kansas City, KS. It’s quite fitting that she started contra dancing as a dance gypsy. After that start in Kansas City she found the local communities in Delafield and Madison. After dancing locally for 2 years she started going to dance weekends, Squirrel Moon, Breaking Up Thanksgiving, and then Pigtown! She was hooked on gypsying and for the next several years she was able to go to around 25 weekends a year! Things have slowed down a bit as far as weekends go, only 12-15 a year now. Pam has danced in 25 states with the goal of dancing in all 50! This year was the first time she was able to go to Pinewoods and it was amazing! She’s fortunate to be able to help with Squirrel Moon held at Folk Lore Village near Madison, WI in September. She makes sure everyone is fed all weekend. In 2008 Pam was the driving force behind starting IndepenDance held in July in Delafield, WI.
Because of her experience gypsying Pam was able to incorporate many of the best ideas and the weekend was a success from the first year! Pam is passionate about contra dancing and loves waltzing. No matter where she is, local dance or weekend, the contra dance feels like home. She’s looking forward to serving on the board to help continue the traditions and link those who love them. To support her dance habit Pam is the Business Manager for a Waukesha Funeral Home.
John Seto (Sacramento, CA) A reluctant acceptance to a New Year’s Eve International dance party in the Midwest almost 25 years ago, lead to a life-time avocation in the promoting of traditional dances… It was in Columbus, OH in 1991 where John began simultaneously attending Balkan kolo, English Country dancing, and American contra. He was employed then as Coordinator of Traditional and Ethnic Arts at the Ohio Arts Council. Since returning to California in 1994, John lived and danced in the Bay Area for another 5 or 6 years before returning to Sacramento, the hometown where he grew up since emigrating from China at the age of nine.
The Sacramento Country Dance Society (SCDS) will be celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2016, offering 2 - 3 contra dances per month as well as 13 years of a monthly English component. SCDS has also maintained its annual September “Echo Summit” weekend dance camp for over 20 years. John has served in various capacities on the SCDS board over the last 15 years. He currently serves as president, and is a member of a team that nurtured growth in both styles of dances in our regional community.
In addition, John brings to CDSS over twenty years of experience in public sector arts funding. He currently works for the California Arts Council, and has served on many national, regional and local panels that adjudicate grant applications. He hopes this background will be of assistance in funding research as CDSS becomes stronger as a national service organization that preserves and promotes English country, American contra and related demonstration dance forms.
Nancy Barbour (Monmouth Junction, NJ) currently lives in central NJ and is active in the local Princeton dance community. She first discovered the joy of folk dancing while living in Australia 25 years ago, and dance and music have been a focal point of her life ever since. She currently dances molly and rapper with Handsome Molly and Griggstown Lock, respectively, and has formerly danced Cotswold Morris, Northwest Morris, and rapper with 4 prior teams. Through the years she has danced with numerous social and performance dance groups in a variety of traditions ranging from Balkan to Scottish to contra, and has served the community through leadership of ritual teams, organizing family dances, and hosting sings. Her favorite week of the year is Ogontz family camp, which she and her family have attended for many years. Nancy and her husband have raised their children in the dance community and value the warm and caring environment that has nurtured and supported them.
Professionally, Nancy leads a research and development group, and brings to the board her experience in leading a portfolio of projects, managing a budget, and developing strategy and staff.