This section of the Resource Portal was inspired by our core value of Inclusivity. As an arts organization, CDSS understands inclusivity to mean striving to promote cultural equity. Cultural equity embodies the values, policies, and practices of providing equal access to the arts, including our dance, music, and song traditions, especially to people who historically have been underrepresented or denied access based on:

  • age
  • body size or type
  • citizenship status
  • disability
  • gender identity or expression
  • military or former military status
  • national or ethnic origin
  • race
  • religion
  • sexual or romantic orientation
  • socioeconomic status

In our communities, this means we are working to ensure that everyone who wants to participate in our traditions is empowered to do so with a full sense of belonging and ownership. This also means we are working to educate ourselves on the full history of our living traditions, including where and how these traditions have silenced marginalized voices and appropriated ideas from them.

With that in mind, the resources here are categorized by three purposes:

  1. Amplifying marginalized perspectives (noted as “perspectives”) from modern-day folks in participatory dance, music, and song communities with identities that have historically been unacknowledged or ignored. 

  2. Expanding/retelling history (noted as “history”) of our various traditions to include narratives outside of the history written by the dominant culture that most of us are already familiar with.

  3. Increasing inclusivity in our communities (noted as “communities”) using practical advice from folks who have implemented both specific and general strategies in their own organizations.

Because many of these resources are specific to one or two marginalized identities, they are further categorized by the identities listed above. For the initial launch of this section, we focused on race, sexual/romantic orientation, and gender; as this section grows, it will include more resources related to different marginalized identities.

The resources on this list are included not because they are “perfect,” but because they each make valuable contributions to the larger discussion of equity and inclusivity.

If you’ve come here inspired by the 2020 Black Lives Matter and anti-racism movements to learn more about the Black history of our traditions, welcome! We recommend starting with the starred (*) resources as an introduction to this history.

Suggest a New Resource Suggest an Update to a Resource

ResourcePurposeAs it relates toTradition
A list of Equity Training Consultants
Americans for the Arts
Americans for the Arts has created a crowdsourced list of individuals and organizations offering consultation and/or training at the intersection of the arts and diversity/equity/inclusion.
communities overall all
Breaking Down the Legacy of Race in Traditional Music in America
2020, National Public Radio
This NPR radio piece and associated article explores the intersection between racism and traditional music & song. Both Jake Blount and the Youth Traditional Song Weekend are featured.
communities race song
5 Things... Inside the Dancing Mind of... an evening chat focused on Global Terminology/Positional Calling with Brooke Friendly
2020, The Historical Tea and Dance Society
Darlene Hamilton’s discussion with Brooke Friendly focused on teaching with global terminology and positional calling – something Brooke has been doing for years but which is particularly relevant to the current interest in teaching without reference to gender roles.
communities, history, perspective gender  ECD
Fostering Intergenerational Community
2015, Youth Traditional Song Weekend
These notes from a session at YTS 2015 list ways participants promote age inclusivity in their own communities.
communities age song
Age Segregation at Contras
2012, Jeff Kaufman
In this blog post, Jeff explores the complexities of dance communities segregating by age. The post is followed by a community discussion.
communities age contra dance
Switching to Gender-Neutral Language in a Positive Way
Diane Silver
In this handout, caller Diane Silver outlines a number of ideas for both organizers and callers to consider when switching to gender-neutral language.
communities gender contra dance
Larks and Ravens: A Report from the Field
CDSS News, Spring 2018
Dela and Dugan Murphy
Callers and organizers Dela and Dugan Murphy make a case for gender-free calling and describe how communities can transition to using gender-free terms.
communities gender contra dance
Positional Calling
2019, Jeff Kaufman
In this blog post, Jeff Kaufman explores positional calling (i.e. calling without using role terms). The post is followed by a community discussion.
communities gender contra dance
History of Larks/Ravens
2019, Jeff Kaufman
In this blog post, Jeff Kaufman presents a history of the role terms "larks" and "ravens." The post is followed by a community discussion.
communities gender contra dance
What's Your Pronoun?
CDSS News, Winter 2015-2016
Miriam Newman
In this article, Miriam explains why and how to ask people their pronouns.
communities gender all
Gender-Inclusive Restrooms
2018, Boston Intergenerational Dance Advocates
This blog post from the BIDA dance outlines their restroom labeling strategy and shares a template that other communities are free to use.
communities gender contra dance
Welcoming Diverse Populations
2015, Putting on the Dance 2
Sophia Donforth and Julia Bennett
Notes from a workshop given at POTD2: Who are your dancers? Who is missing from your dance floor, and why? We’ll examine ways to reach out to more diverse populations and how to make a more welcoming dance community for everyone. Bring an anecdote to share about a magic moment, or something you’d do differently. Participants will leave with a list of ways to reach new dancers, and make an inclusive dance “commons” that brings them back a second time!
communities inclusivity overall dance
Issues in Traditional Song Past and Present
2016, Youth Traditional Song Weekend
These notes from a session at YTS 2016 list issues around diversity and inclusivity present in the trad song community as good jumping-off places for further discussion and action.
communities inclusivity overall song
Women / Black / Indigenous / POC / LGBTQIA+ / People with Disabilities Music Instructor Nominee Directory
This enormous spreadsheet is a crowd-sourced list of tradtional music and dance instructors, conceived and compiled by A'yen Tran.
communities inclusivity overall dance, music, song
Be Square: OldTime Square Dance Handbook - A Southern Subset
This resource for sqaure dance callers and organizers touches on many aspects of the dance and community, particularly some that are often not mentioned elsewhere, including geography, politics, and patriarchy.
communities inclusivity overall square dance
CDSS Resource Portal: Community Safety and Etiquette
From the Dance Organizers section of the Portal, this collection of resources focuses on promoting good etiquette at dance events.
communities inclusivity overall dance
Race in the Trad Song Community
2019, Youth Traditional Song Weekend
These notes from a session at YTS 2019 explore the ways race intersects with the trad song community, some potential impacts of having very white communities, and how communities can move forward with similar discussions and actions.
communities race song
Dinah, Put Down Your Horn: Blackface Minstrel Songs Don’t Belong in Music Class
2019, Dr. Katya Ermolaeva
In this article, the author puts forward the need to remove racist songs from school music programs and discusses a number of songs with racist messaging.
Submitted by Jan Elliot
communities race song
Queer as Folk: Traditional British Music is Now Telling LGBT Stories
2020, Guardian
This article gives a quick overview of trends in LGBTQIA+ songwriting and music clubs in the UK.
communities sexual/romantic orientation song
Why the Sliding Scale?
2014, Boston Intergenerational Dance Advocates
In this short blog post, the BIDA dance outlines why they use sliding scale admission for their events.
communities socioeconomic status contra dance
Rhiannon Giddens: On the Lost History of the Black Banjo
Rhiannon Giddens is a Grammy-award-winning musician and co-founder of the Carolina Chocolate Drops who discusses the history of the African banjo and how it became a keynote instrument of American music through the minstrelsy and beyond.
history race instrumental music
* 1619, Episode 3: The Birth of American Music
2019, New York Times
This episode of the podcast 1619 gives an overview of minstrelsy's influence on so many other American musics.
history race instrumental music, song
American Songster Radio
American Songster Radio is podcast looking at the roots of American popular music. It’s hosted by world renowned musician and folklorist Dom Flemons, who playfully refers to himself as The American Songster.
history race song
Addressing Racism as a Dance Community
2020, Portland Intown Contra Dance
In this short overview, the organizers of Portland Intown Contra Dance acknowlege and explain some of the various Black and Afircan influences on American folk dance traditions.
history race contra dance
Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics: Roots and Branches of Southern Appalachian Dance
2015, Phil Jamison
In Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics, old-time musician and flatfoot dancer Phil Jamison journeys into the past and surveys the present to tell the story behind the square dances, step dances, reels, and other forms of dance practiced in southern Appalachia. He argues that these distinctive folk dances are not the unaltered jigs and reels of the early British settlers, but hybrids that developed over time by adopting and incorporating elements from other popular forms. He traces the forms from their European, African American, and Native American roots to the modern day.
history race square dance, family/community dance
* Sinful Tunes and Spirituals: Black Folk Music to the Civil War
1977, 2003, Dena J. Epstein
Author Dena Epstein's seminal research redefined the study of Black music in the slavery era by presenting the little-known development of Black folk music in the United States, including the use of drums, the banjo, and other instruments originating in Africa; a wealth of eyewitness accounts and illustrations; in-depth look at a wide range of topics; and a collection of musical examples
history race instrumental music, song
Radiolab: Birdie in the Cage
2019, WNYC Studios
This episode of the Radiolab podcast gives an overview of the history of square dance in the U.S.
history race square dance
America's Wholesome Square Dancing Tradition Is a Tool of White Supremacy
2017, Robyn Pennacchia
The article explores the impetus behind Henry Ford's revivial of square dancing in the U.S. in the early 1900s.
history race square dance
A Figure By Any Other Name: Exploring Alternatives to Gypsy
CDSS News, Summer 2019
Katy German, Sue Stanton, Jeff Kaufman, and callers
This article explores the use of the term "gypsy" in calling and presents a range of alternative options.
history, communities ethnicity dance
The Music I Love Is a Racial Minefield
2018, Mother Jones
In this article, journalist and old-time fiddler Michael Mechanic explores prejudices that exist in old-time fiddle tunes and songs and gives suggestions for acknowledging these issues or choosing to no longer play problematic tunes.
history, communities race instrumental music
Old Tunes, Troublesome Titles
2018, No Depression
In this article, Isa Burke touches on racial slurs in common tune titles, specifically those related to indigenous peoples, and gives suggestions for renaming.
history, communities race, ethnicity instrumental music
Traditional Music Today
This Facebook group “attempts to be a safe(r) space to discuss traditional music, culture, and our lives as members of it.”
perspectives inclusivity overall song, music, and dance
BIPOC Folk Artists Playlist
This CDSS-created YouTube playlist features BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) folk music artists.
perspectives race instrumental music, song
Talking with Banjo Player Kaia Kater
2016, Indy Week
In this interview, Grenadian-Canadian musician and songwriter Kaia Kater explains how her race relates to her songwriting and experiences playing for mostly white audiences.
perspectives race, ethnicity instrumental music, song
Sing, don't shout — an alternative approach | Crys Matthews | TEDxHerndon
2017, TEDx
When you are black, a woman, a lesbian, a preacher's kid, and in an interracial marriage in the south... difficult conversations abound! Singer-songwriter Crys Matthews shares what she's learned during her life as "the poster child for intersectionality."
perspectives race, sexual/romantic orientation song
Che Apalache: Connection through Context
2018, The Bluegrass Situation
In this interview, Argentinian bluegrass band leader Joe Troop discusses how his perspective on music and songwriting coming from South America and from being gay is different than—but also similar to—perspecitives from more commonly seen identities.
perspectives race, sexual/romantic orientation song
Nic Gareiss: The Subtle Art of Queering Traditional Dance
2018, The Bluegrass Situation
In this interview percussive dancer Nic Gareiss explores greater ideas about his listeners’ and audiences’ expectations about the relationships of dance and melody, dancer and musician, dance partner and dance partner, song and singer, and performer and audience. Not only does he “queer” dance, by stripping it of its normative trappings, and laying its essentials bare, he also queers its heteronormativity, its patriarchal tendencies, and its binaryism — in a fashion that’s supremely gorgeous to both the ears and the eyes.
perspectives sexual/romantic orientation percussive dance
Dolly Parton's America: The Only One for Me, Jolene
2019, WNYC Studios
In this episode of Radiolab's Dolly Parton's America podcast, host Jad Abumrad interviews openly gay folk musicians about the intersection of queerness and music.
perspectives sexual/romantic orientation song
A Not-At-All Exhaustive LGBTQIA+ Country Playlist
2020, NPR
This playlist, curated by NPR, highlights a number of modern queer country/folk artists.
perspectives sexual/romantic orientation song
From Appalachia with Love: A Conversation with Sam Gleaves and Tyler Hughes
2017, The Bluegrass Situation
In this interview, Sam and Tyler talk bout being openly gay musicians in the American South.
perspectives sexual/romantic orientation, socioeconomic status song
Decolonizing the Music Room
This website provides research for music educators on unsung narratives in U.S. folk music, resources, and tools for decolonizing practices.
perspectives, communities race song, family/community dance
New Old Songs: Writing Within the Tradition
CDSS News, Summer 2020
Alex Sturbaum shares tips for writing new songs within folk traditions and touches on writing with less-often-mentioned themes in mind.
perspectives, communities sexual/romantic orientation, gender song
Response to: "A Figure by Any Other Name: Exploring Alternatives to Gypsy"
CDSS News, Fall 2019
Dragan Gill
This article presents the history of the term "gypsy," both in terms of how it is used in dance as well as in the broader cultural context.
perspectives, history ethnicity dance
* Bones and Banjo: Confronting Cultural Appropriation | Kafari + Jake Hoffman | TEDxDirigo
2017, TEDx
Much of the music we listen to and the instruments used to make it is taken for granted by audiences and musicians alike. Kafari and Jake Hoffmann reveal the histories of their instruments (the bones and banjo) and the music they make in both objective and personal terms. Furthermore, what does it mean to play them today? As a black man, can Kafari play music on his own terms? As a white man, can Jake play music with honor that has history both to be proud of and deserves reconciliation?
perspectives, history race instrumental music
Sankofa: Reclaiming History: Carolina Chocolate Drops at TEDxUNC
2013, TEDx
Starting with material culled from the Piedmont region of the Carolinas, the Carolina Chocolate Drops sought to freshly interpret this work, not merely recreate it, highlighting the central role African-Americans played in shaping our nation's popular music from its beginnings more than a century ago.
perspectives, history race instrumental music, song
* Community and Connection: Rhiannon Giddens's 2017 IBMA Keynote Address
In this transcription of her 2017 keynote address, musician and scholar Rhiannon Giddens describes some of the historic erasure of Black and African American music and the influence that not knowing a full history of folk music had on her own life.
perspectives, history race instrumental music, song
Cultural Appropriation in American Folkways
2020, Kefari and Jake Hoffman
On June 18, 2020, Kafari and Jake Hoffman led a discussion for Portland Intown Contra Dance on cultural appropriation and decolonization in American folkways. They talked abut their personal experiences, what distinguishes cultural appropriation and how each of us can take action to decolonize the folkways we practice.
perspectives, history race all
African Americans in Oldtime: 10 Resources for Learning the History of the Music
2020, Oldtime Central
A list of 10 books, albums, and podcasts highlighting some history of African Americans in old-time music.
perspectives, history race all
* Live with Carnegie Hall: Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi
2020, Carnegie Hall
Rhiannon Giddens is one of the most vibrant musicians of our time. With her partner, multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi, she leads us through the music and history of minstrelsy—the most popular form of entertainment in America during the 1800s and a major influence in the creation of the American cultural identity. The two restore minstrelsy to its global context through the journeys of the banjo and the tambourine, and in tracing those journeys show what there is to reproach versus celebrate in the birth of American music.
perspectives, history race instrumental music, song
* Jake Blount Looks Deeper into the Black Traditions of Old-Time Music
2020, The Bluegrass Situation
Kaia Kater interviews musician Jake Blount about his album "Spider Tales" and some of the history that inspired this collection of songs.
perspectives, history race, sexual/romantic orientation music, song
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