Monthly Archives: December 2012

Some Seasonal and Holiday-themed Dances

by Pat Petersen

Last weekend, I took a notion and sorted thru several stacks and folders of unfiled and out-of-place dance materials. Coming across several dances I had intended to do “some day,” and quite a number that I had forgotten about, it seized me to list all of the dances appropriate to the current season, and teach as many as possible at the regular Sun Assembly (Durham, NC) dance. Well, why go to all that work of making a list if not to share it? Thereby I offer the following, with sources. I’d be delighted to add to it!  All opinions welcomed.

Dance titles, authors, sources:

  • As Tiny Tim Observed, Fried Herman, Fringe Benefits
  • Candles in the Dark, Loretta Holz, Candles in the Dark
  • Christmas at Zeist, Philippe Callens, Belgian Boutades
  • An Early Frost, Philippe Callens, Continental Capers
  • For Mary, John Woods, Blind Harper Dances
  • Gower Wassail, Sol Weber, CDSS News, #193 Nov/Dec 2006
  • Jingle Bells, Jonathan Sivier (2005 email)
  • In the Bleak Midwinter, Robin Hayden, CDSS News, #134 Jan 1997
  • In the Fields in Frost & Snow, Fallibroome 1
  • Michael and All Angels, Fried Herman, Potters’ Porch
  • Midwinter Maggot, Gary Roodman, A Group of Calculated Figures
  • A New Beginning, Gary Roodman, Additional Calculated Figures, Old Friends
  • New Year’s Day in the Morning, Fallibroome 3
  • Old Wife Behind the Fire, A Choice Collection…Neal
  • Oranges and Lemons, Playford Ball
  • Peace Be With You, Fried Herman, CDSS News, #164 Jan/Feb 2002
  • Red and All Red, Charles Bolton reconstruction
  • Round About Our Coal Fire, Tom Cook reconstruction, Hunter’s Moon
  • Shepherd’s Delight, Hilary Herbert, Hilary’s Humours 1
  • A Solstice Snow, Gary Roodman, A Group of Calculated Figures
  • Thanksgiving, A. Troxler when no one showed up for the 2012 Thanksgiving dance
  • Thanksgiving Anniversary, Mary McConnell
  • Twelfth Night, Lou Vosteen
  • Welcome to Winter, Gary Roodman, Even Odder Calculated Figures
  • Winter in Brasstown, Philippe Callens, Seasons of Invention
  • Winter Dreams, Gary Roodman, Sum Further Calculated Figures
  • Winter Garden, Brooke Friendly & Chris Sackett, Impropriety 1
  • Winter Memories, Colin Hume, Dances With a Difference 4
  • Winter Oranges, Carl Dreher, CDSS News, Spring 2011
  • Winter Solstice, Wendy Crouch, Further Flights of Fancy
  • Winter Waltz, Fried Herman, Serendipity
  • A Winter’s Day, Gary Roodman, Even Odder Calculated Figures

I’m tempted to include The Homecoming and Whiskey Before Dinner, but I may be reaching a bit! Have also not included all the dances with “red” in the title.

Suggestions for other titles?

Stories of Dancing with Veterans with PTSD or TBI

Deborah Denenfeld, Director, Dancing Well: The Soldier Project

All participants wear a red ribbon on their right hand as a memory aid: Red for Right hand. As the dance series at Fort Knox, KY progressed, soldiers, their partners and children began to cherish their red ribbons, some refusing to remove them between sessions. They became our uniform, our Red Badge of Courage, uniting us in our courageous actions toward wellness. (Photo courtesy Deborah Denenfeld)

Great News from Dancing Well: The Soldier Project! Critical pieces are coming together to bring the healing power of traditional dance and music to veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and to their families. The VA Medical Center system is assisting with logistics, planning, and recruitment of families to participate in the first dance series, and CDSS is supporting the project by acting as fiscal sponsor, lending nonprofit status so that donations are tax deductible.

If you’re wondering whether dance with this population really helps, I’d like to share the stories of two people I danced with recently when I participated in a retreat for veterans and their spouses sponsored by the local VA.

At the retreat, veterans and their partners learned relationship skills through a unique program offered by the PAIRS Foundation. Between each relationship session, I led dancing with the veteran couples and VA staff. While the adults were busy with their training, I was dancing with their children. In the evening, following a gala banquet, I led a family dance for everyone together, complete with live music.

Many of the veterans had been recently discharged and were newly home from action overseas. Several had wounds that were apparent: they walked with a cane, were in a wheelchair, or mentioned feeling dizzy quickly. Others had wounds that weren’t so obvious, but they were present, too – I could see it in their serious faces and hesitant interactions.

One veteran held back. He didn’t want to participate in the dancing even though his wife dove right in. Eventually, though, seeing the fun others were having, he joined in for several dances. I was told later he had only been back from deployment for two weeks, and in that time he hadn’t smiled once. It took the dancing to return him to smiling again and joyfully interacting with his partner. His wife later remarked that she couldn’t remember the last time she’d had so much fun.

A second veteran also watched the dancing for a while before deciding to join in. He could only dance a couple dances, though, before his physical pain became too intense and he had to sit down. But then he started calling out the dance moves right along with me! I talked with him later and asked if he was a dance caller. He said he wasn’t but he remembered attending similar dances as a boy in Arkansas. Even though his injuries kept him from dancing as much as he would have liked, he took great pleasure in watching, remembering, and participating in his own way.

That Saturday I was only able to reach a tiny number of our returning veterans. PTSD and TBI are so widespread. My hope is that Dancing Well: The Soldier Project can help those of us who care so deeply about traditional music and dance to bring its benefits to those in our communities who need it most.

Please consider making a donation to Dancing Well: The Soldier Project this holiday season. Your gift will help fund three ten-session dance workshops with veterans battling PTSD and TBI and their families. It will also fund development and implementation of a comprehensive curriculum to train dance callers, VA activities directors, social workers, dance therapists, and others to facilitate traditional dance with afflicted veterans and their families.

Please visit Dancing Well and click the “Donate” button to make your contribution.

Dancing Well is an ambitious and enormously rewarding project. In an upcoming blog, I’ll share other ways you can get involved. In the meantime, feel free to contact me at any time at or 502-889-6584 to talk more about Dancing Well.

Our veterans have done so much for us – help us dance them home!

Disclaimer: Dancing Well is not a member of, or affiliated with, The American Dance Therapy Association, and classes are not run by licensed therapists. Dancing Well is not intended to be therapy, and our programming is provided for recreational and social purposes only.


A special thank you for Valley Gives Day

by Rima Dael, Executive Director

Karana says thanks and talks about CDSS

Hello CDSS Friends,

Thank you seems too small a phrase to capture the enormous sense of gratitude that we have for each and every dollar given to us during Valley Gives Day, 12-12-12. Beyond the donations to our work and arts-in-education programs, these gifts enabled us to be seen all day on the Leader Board and helped us to be seen by all Western MA donors, grant makers and corporate giving programs. The sponsoring foundations really liked what we do and showcased us in all their multimedia press, including their thank you video.

Beyond the fundraising goal of $4,500 for the day (which we almost doubled) we wanted to be sure we could leverage this day to better promote traditional dance, music and song and introduce ourselves to those outside our community. These are also some of the themes that our Centennial Planning task groups have raised in their projects.

CDSS’s totals for the day, within the pool of 125 “large” nonprofits, were $7,640 raised, with 116 unique donors. We placed 6th in number of unique donors and 18th in amount raised. (Final numbers, including donations that didn’t count in the 12/12/12 tally because they registered too early or too late: $8,029 raised and 118 unique donors.)

Thanks to the donors, board members, community volunteers and the Valley Gives Day initiative that made this all possible. Revisit our blogs from last week that showcase all the fun, media buzz and hard work for this fundraiser, such as the singing and dancing flash mobs.

In closing, here is CDSS’s thank you video that we’d like to share that many donors saw when they gave through Valley Gives.

Our heartfelt thanks to all!


P.S.  Valley Gives Day’s overall totals, raised by 264 large and small nonprofits, were $1,174,737 raised, with 6,646 unique donors and 10,606 donations.

CDSS Flash Mob Dance!

Here it is in all its glory! The flash mob dance that CDSS staff, board members and friends did at Mama Iguana’s restaurant in Springfield, MA, on 12.12.12 to celebrate Valley Gives Day. It was great fun… Thanks to Doug Creighton from The Button Box in Sunderland for playing and Linda Henry for stepping in to call at the last minute!

CDSS Flash Mob at Mama Iguana’s on Valley Gives Day


All Dancing, All Singing, All Giving

by Rima Dael, Executive Director

Hi everyone! Today is Valley Gives Day for CDSS, a participatory 24-hour e-philanthropy day in Western MA! We are a little more than halfway  through and have been about town singing — this morning in Hadley at Whole Foods at 8:30 and in Northampton at Thornes Marketplace during lunchtime — giving greater visibility of CDSS to the Western MA community and Western MA foundations.

Here is a photo from the Whole Foods sing, and we expect to have Northampton video up in a little while. We’re pleased to say we’ve been able to achieve 100% staff giving. Will you join us today to make a gift? Support CDSS! Support dance and song and our new educational project!

We’ll be contra dancing in Springfield tonight — check our Facebook page for updates. In the meanwhile, donate here:

Thanks from Rima.



CDSS Valley Gives team goes dancing!

by Pat MacPherson, CDSS Education Department Director

Nils, Pat & Rima

Wednesday night some of the CDSS staff visited the vibrant Downtown Amherst, MA contra dance. Executive Director, Rima Dael and her daughter, Karana, Pat MacPherson, Mary Wesley (the evening’s caller), Nils Fredland and Linda Henry — clad in our new CDSS t-shirts – danced a lot, laughed a lot, and represented CDSS.

At the break, Rima took the microphone and talked about CDSS, our work as a national supporter of participatory traditional arts, and the Valley Gives e-philanthropy day on 12.12.12. Money raised during Valley Gives will jumpstart our work on online courses in traditional dance and music for teachers. We hope to involve Amherst schools in our work, and this announcement got a cheer from the dancers on the floor.

As an aside, the Amherst dance was a recipient of a CDSS grant, and Will Loving, the Downtown Amherst organizer, spoke spontaneously and eloquently about the importance of the grant to getting his series off the ground. What a great way to end our visit to the dance!

Donate on 12.12.12 or schedule a donation.

WATCH videos of the dance:



CDSS Sings!

by Caroline Batson, Promotion & Periodicals Director

CDSS staff singing, 12.5.12

As you may know, CDSS is joining in a regional e-philanthropy event next week on 12.12.12. We invite you to support our work with a special gift that day (or you can schedule a donation anytime between now and then). Since not everyone who’ll be giving that day knows what we do here at CDSS, we’re showing them. We’ll have a blog up tomorrow about an event last night, and on Monday we’ll be videotaping us doing the Abbots Bromley Horn dance for folks in our building. Check back again tomorrow and early next week to watch.

In the meanwhile, SING ALONG WITH US NOW! The words are — “You are welcome, you are welcome, you are welcome in this place.”

Video: Steve Howe. Singers, L to R: Mary Wesley, Robin Hayden, Linda Henry, Pat MacPherson, Nils Fredland, and Caroline Batson. Kathy Bullock led the song last summer at our Harmony of Music and Dance Week.

Okay, everyone ready? Sing!

Nat Hewitt

by Nils Fredland

New England fiddler Nat Hewitt died on the morning of Friday, November 23rd of complications from cancer. He leaves behind a 25-year-old son and two teenage daughters, and will be missed by the many people whose lives he touched through his music, generosity, and kindness.

When I think of Nat, I think of the sea, and of his love of sailing…that’s odd, because he and I never had a conversation about either of those things. I knew of Nat’s love of the ocean from his friends who joined him in that part of his life, and while I know he would have welcomed me onto his boat, I never asked to be included, and he never extended the invitation.

I have a lifelong reverence for the sea. But, when I am in the presence of big water, I am an observer – a member of the congregation – seeking perspective and healing, but also full of fear. Nat was an active participant in the company of the sea. I like to think of him as more like a preacher; similarly reverent, seeking perspective and healing, but also striving to gain a deep understanding of how to respectfully harness the power of the ocean, in order to live in tandem with it. I will always admire Nat’s courage, marked by his willingness to be out in the midst of all that chaos and beauty.

As a dance caller, I’ve shared the stage with many great fiddlers. I haven’t been able to explain why Nat’s fiddling stood out to me as unique in the midst of all of that greatness; why, despite the fact that Nat and I weren’t close friends, I always felt a certain kinship with him that went beyond our musical collaboration.

I realize now – it’s the sea. I could hear it in the way he played: polished and beautiful; but also passionate, raw, and fearless. His music never failed to fill me with the same feelings I get when I sit on the beach to watch the waves.

Thank you, Nat, for keeping me in touch with the wonder of the ocean. I miss you, friend.

Young Nat sailing


Should you wish, the family suggests gifts in Nat’s memory be sent to CDSS, 116 Pleasant St #345, Easthampton, MA  01027-2759.  Please include a note with your check directing the gift in memory of Nat Hewitt. You may also make a memorial gift online at


Fully-grown flowers are more than just stems

by Caroline Batson, CDSS Promotion and Periodicals Director

photo by Barbara Dyskant; courtesy CDSS Archives

A recent opinion piece in the Miami Herald by Luis Martinez-Fernández, talks about the importance of a well-rounded education that includes not only STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), but also HAS (humanities, arts and social sciences).* As dancers, singers, musicians, teachers and organizers of the traditional arts, we agree with the well-rounded approach. We know what these arts mean to us and have meant during our lives. Other than a brief Phys. Ed. session of square dancing in primary school, many of us didn’t embrace these participatory arts until adulthood. What additional richness if we’d contra or English country danced, or sang and played music, from a younger age!

There are many subjects that must be included in school curricula today, all of them important, but because it seems the arts are being left behind, the Country Dance and Song Society is planning a new education  project—online courses in traditional dance and music for public school teachers. Our goal is to give teachers the basic skills to easily incorporate these traditional arts into the contemporary classroom.

We will be participating in a regional fundraising event on 12.12.12 called Valley Gives Day, an e-philanthropy day to raise the profile of over 200 Western Massachusetts nonprofits. We have chosen to dedicate funds raised on that day to jumpstart our new project. You can help by donating on 12.12.12 or by scheduling a donation now.

“…we need poets, painters, musicians, ballet dancers and clergy to nurture the spirit of those who now lead longer and healthier lives,” Martinez-Fernández writes. “[A] STEM without flowers is just a bare stem.”

Let’s help grow those flowers! Please support our new project by contributing through Valley Gives.


* To read the full article, “STEM Promotes Science Instruction at the Expense of Humanities,” go to the ArtsBlog,