Monthly Archives: November 2012

Were you in this picture?!

by Rima Dael, CDSS Executive Director

We got a CDSS postcard in the mail that was found in a flea market from member Karin Gottlier in Tolland, CT — the back of the postcard says Country Dancing at Pinewoods Camp. We’ve identified a few of the dancers, but would love to hear from you on who else you can identify in this picture.

Our board president, David Millstone, says this: “We have it in our collection of postcards at the website. Our identification information for that card reads, in part:

“Among the dancers are Jack and Genny Shimer, the farthest couple in the line of four on the left. Bob Dalsemer surmises, ‘They are probably dancing a double version of Cumberland Square with the basket figure. I also recognize Bob Salmons (with the glasses in the basket) and John Owen, first in the line on the right.'”

We’d really love to hear from you if you were sitting in the crowd or dancing in this photo.

Happy Friday!



P.S. Check out our gift membership that comes with the 2013 Contradance calendar or pick up a water bottle or tote bag in our Store. And have you heard about our participation on Valley Gives Day? Check it out. A great way to leverage a year-end gift to CDSS!


Support Our New Education Initiative

by Rima Dael, CDSS Executive Director

Family Dance in Amherst, MA; photo by Rima Dael

Today marks the launch of our participation in the upcoming Valley Gives Day on 12.12.12, an e-philanthropy event to encourage residents in Western MA, and their friends outside the area, to contribute to their favorite nonprofit organizations. You can schedule a donation to CDSS today or any time before 12.12.12 (or on the day itself). Go to, and click on “schedule one for Valley Gives” under Make a Donation.

By scheduling your gift to CDSS as part of Valley Gives Day, you may increase our overall fundraising on 12.12.12. Grants from Western MA funders will be awarded to organizations who raise the most money and to those who receive the most donations on that day, and, with the generosity of local funders, randomly-selected organizations will receive grants.

What are we asking you to help support? Arts-in-Education!!

Americans for the Arts reports that instruction time for the arts is decreasing across the nation since the implementation of No Child Left Behind. Meanwhile, the benefits of arts learning are well-documented and positive.

The CDSS Education Department is responding by envisioning the creation of online courses and toolkits for the busy public school teacher using participatory dance, music and song with roots in English and North American traditions. Our goal is to give classroom teachers the basic skills to easily incorporate these traditional arts into the contemporary classroom.

CDSS’s participation in Valley Gives and your support will fund and jumpstart this project.

Participatory art “teaches children life skills such as learning to solve problems and make decisions, building self-confidence and self-discipline, developing the ability to imagine what might be, and accepting responsibility to complete tasks from start to finish.” (Americans for the Arts, 2002) We agree!

Please help CDSS with a gift of support. By scheduling a gift now for Valley Gives Day on 12.12.12, we are leveraging that gift to attract more funding from the Western MA funders.

We’ll be showing off a bit occasionally for the next two weeks, so stayed tuned to our blog and Facebook. May Valley Gives Day become a new tradition to strengthen our year-end gifts!

Rockets, Dancing and a Welcoming Community

by Rima Dael, CDSS Executive Director

Rima laughing at the community meeting; photo by Linda Lieberman

I dreamed of going to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. (Yes, it was because of the movie “Space Camp” in the ʾ80s.) Alas, those dreams were dashed…but I did get to go to Huntsville recently, the weekend before Thanksgiving, and I did see the rockets and I got to go dancing!!

Twice a year, CDSS has a traveling meeting when we visit places where we may not be that visible and where we have our Executive Committee meetings in conjunction with a community meeting. It is a way to meet people around the country, to hear about their needs and how CDSS can better support them. It is also wonderful to dance in different communities and Huntsville welcomed us warmly! North Alabama Country Dance Society was our host, and longtime CDSS member Jane Ewing spearheaded the planning. It was the 30th Anniversary for their Saturday night contra dance. While there, we introduced at least 25 new folks to English country dance who came out to join us on Friday night for English country dancing. And yes, rocket scientists do dance!

It was a great visit, as evidenced with the picture of me laughing during our community meeting. Some of my favorite takeaways from our community meeting: Social media does work for Gen X and Gen Y. Public Service Announcements is a great way to promote your dance. Picking up the phone works too! Dance buddies buttons, where experienced dancers are identified and tasked with seeking out the beginners. I met some wonderful young leaders from the home school community, young dancers eager to continue dancing and playing music in college and more seasoned dancers who shared wonderful stories about dance weekends, favorite bands and thoughts about what else CDSS can do to continue to support their communities.

Jane Ewing called the last dance at the Saturday night contra without a walkthrough and it was so much fun! A special thank you to Chuck and Katrina Weber, musicians and artists who housed me and CDSS VP Jenny Beer.

Thank you, Huntsville and North Alabama Country Dance Society!

Order of dances at the Friday evening English country dance; photo by Rima Dael

Contra dancing in the gym on Saturday; photo by Rima Dael



Fractured Atlas

by Jeff Martell, CDSS Sales and Group Services Manager

CDSS is proud to announce that we are partnering with Fractured Atlas in their Open Arts Network to bring their services to our members. Any CDSS member can now become an Associate Member of Fractured Atlas for free and take advantage of the services they offer. Fractured Atlas is a nonprofit organization that serves arts organizations nationwide. Services available to CDSS members include access to health insurance, online courses to help with fundraising, marketing and other business topics, access to their calendar, and special offers and discounts. The online courses, in particular, will be of interest to many of our members. The courses deal mainly with the business of art. And let’s face it, many of us ARE in the business of art in one way or another. Fractured Atlas also offers some interesting cross-disciplinary networking opportunities for our members. We believe that this partnership will be a boon to CDSS members on many levels.



Calling in Zurich

by David Millstone

Editor’s note: CDSS President David Millstone has been traveling and calling dances in Europe (Czech Republic and Switzerland) during October. His flight back to the US delayed for three days by Hurricane Sandy, he sent this note from outside of Zurich.

It’s a Saturday in Dietlikon, Switzerland, a suburb just outside of Zurich. I’m leading an afternoon workshop of square dances and an evening barn dance. This is a monthly event, hosted by Swiss caller Katja Hunn for ten years. With music provided by Over the Isles (a trio featuring Katja’s husband, Philipp, on accordion), as far as I know this is the only regular series of contras and traditional squares in Europe (excluding the British Isles) with live music.

Despite an early season snowfall, the workshop attracts three dozen dancers, including a handful of modern square dancers who have been encouraged by one of their number to check out this other kind of American dance. Dancers are uniformly friendly, and they cheerfully swap partners when requested. With my repertoire augmented with material picked up at the Dare To Be Square weekend in NC last November, we do a mix of New England squares, a southern Appalachian big set, some four-couple squares from the south and west, and a few singing squares.

At the break, an older dancer (aged 90, I learn) comes up to ask, “Do you know George Fogg?“ I am dumbstruck for a moment, then we swap stories. He knows George from having attended many sessions at the Maine Folk Dance Camp, and then he shows me a photograph of Ted and Jean Sannella. Another dancer comes up to tell me about Maine camp hijinks with caller Ralph Page, and a third adds yet more stories.

Throngs of new faces show up that evening, a total of about 50 dancers. The young English couple, regulars at the dance, have brought five friends who bounce up and down merrily as they swing; the older Swiss dancers are delighted to welcome them as partners. We have a lively mix on the floor—modern square dancers, contra dancers, international folk dancers, Swiss, American expats, English, Austrian, and one man from tiny Liechtenstein—and so, for the final contra of the evening, I select one by New Jersey caller Bob Isaacs: United We Dance.

Photos courtesy the author.