Joanna smiles at a group of musiciansCalling with Alchemy (Karen Axelrod, Eric Martin, and Rachel Bell) on the last night at camp. Photo by Susan Kevra.

From the Director of Programs

August 2021

Hello from English Dance Week at Pinewoods!

Every day, at the beginning of the all-camp gathering, program director and gathering leader Alex Cumming asks us to listen—what does the air sound like today? One day, the breeze wafting through the trees is predominant. Another day, the stillness. And now, at almost the end of the week, it’s the sound of the constant rain that fills in every quiet moment.

From the very first time I went to Pinewoods more than 25 years ago, the indirect sound experience was such a key part of my time there. As a Scottish Week camper, I found it amazing that you could hear bagpipes through the woods at all hours of the day (I didn’t find out until later that there was a piper who lived across the pond; yes, sound does carry that far—be careful of those late night chats on the dock...). As a Pinewoods crew member, I was enchanted by the sound of recorder-playing wafting through the woods, even if less so by the recorder player practicing on the crew dock at 6:00 a.m.

This year’s sounds were more precious than ever because so many of them were missing for the last two years. Here are just a few aural memories to tide me over until next year:

An overheard solo piano player practicing one of the tunes from a dance I taught in class earlier in the day

The sheer volume of conversations in the dining hall when the rain curtains are drawn

Sounds drifting across camp into my cabin, keeping me company as I prepare for the next day’s classes: the rhythmic pounding of fifth period English clogging class, French tunes from the after-dance bal folk party, the muffled sounds of my neighbors up the hill debriefing the day with conversation and laughter

The cacophony of the frogs in the vernal pool next to C#, the main dance pavilion

The almost-holy silence of my early morning and late night swims

The bit of the tune I ask the musicians to play before each dance to get the dancers to settle down, hear the meter of the music, and feel the mood of the dance. The first dance of English Week was “Farmer’s Joy,” a great dance by Joseph Pimentel to a fabulous tune of the same name by Adam Broome. And it was played by three musicians playing together in the same place, at the same time. I don’t think I’ll ever take that for granted again.

As I finish this note, I’m home from camp and my clothes are clean and dry at last. I’m impatient for everyone who took pictures at camp to post their photos on social media so I can relive my immediate past. And today, those snapshots and all of those soundbites are just a bit more poignant as the news is spreading that our camp season has to come to an early close. I am so grateful I was able to dance and be in company with 150 of my closest friends. I can’t wait to be there with you next summer.

Joanna's signature
Joanna Reiner Wilkerson, Director of Programs

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