CDSS ENews Header
Our Website Has a Fresh, New Look
Help Us Help You!
Camp Jobs Available
Matching Scholarships for Camp
Bylaws Vote
It Was a Fine Party
Group Membership Challenge
Happy Birthday to Us
Director's Report
Cracking Chestnuts Videos
CDSS Outreach Update
Upcoming in the CDSS News
Recent CDSS Blogs
2014 Camp Dates
Shop at the CDSS Store
Stay in Touch Online
Our Website Has a Fresh, New Look

We've refreshed our website design and reorganized the homepage as part of an ongoing project - take a look.

Help Us Help You!

Scene: a typical day in the CDSS office. The phone rings. A staff member answers it, and hears:
  • "Help! We need, yesterday!"
  • "I'm trying to start a new dance series. What do I do first?"
  • "Camp is beyond my budget....but I reeeeeally want to go!"
  • "Can you help us with our IRS Form 990?"
  •  "We need help developing musicians to play for our dances!"
  • "I need two hundred morris bells!"
  • "Is there a contra dance near....?"
  • "I'd like to promote my event with an ad in the News."
  • "Where can I find instructions for...?"
  • "How do I apply for a grant from my local arts council?"
  • "If we had just a little financial backing, we could..."
Simply put, your support of CDSS helps us help others-individuals, groups and communities who reach out to us every day for help making dance, music and song flourish in their lives.

We love this work! But we can't do it alone. We count on the support of friends like you. Please make a generous year-end gift to CDSS today. It's tax deductible, and it will really help.
P.S. Want to increase the impact of your donation? Schedule your gift for Valley Gives Day on 12/12/13.

Camp Jobs Available
Each year we need help running our summer dance and m  usic camps; if one of the jobs below appeals to you, write to Steve Howe, Director of Programs. By the way, we've recently added some mini-courses to next summer's programs; see the 2014 schedule below or go to our website.

Sound system operators are needed at all weeks, with compensation ranging from full scholarship to paid staff, depending on the session. Office positions are available at CDSS's Pinewoods programs from June 26-August 30, at Timber Ridge from August 9-17, and at Ogontz from August 1-9. These include bookstore and auction management as well as other logistical tasks.

In exchange for full scholarships, we need lifeguards with CPR/First Aid certificates for all sessions, dining hall managers for all sessions, and a doctor or nurse for Family and Campers' weeks. Some partial scholarships are also available for CDSS crew positions at Ogontz and Timber Ridge, and at Family and Campers' weeks at Pinewoods, and for evening monitoring of sleeping children as well as for assistant lifeguards at all Family and Campers' weeks.

Matching Scholarships for CDSS Camps
Are there up-and-coming leaders, musicians, callers or administrators in your community who would be enriched by attending one of our summer programs at Pinewoods, Timber Ridge or Ogontz? Are there people with a strong commitment to your group who would bring home what they learn and put it into action to benefit your local events?

If so, consider participating in the CDSS Matching Scholarship Program. We can often match, dollar for dollar, scholarships offered by CDSS affiliate groups to send people to our camp programs. Covered expenses can include the camper fee as well as travel costs. Here's a link for more info.

Bylaws Vote
For the first time in 15 years the CDSS Governing Board is recommending that the CDSS bylaws be amended. This is expected to occur in January. Members are asked to keep an eye out for the voting materials and return them quickly.

It Was a Fine Party
The presentation of this year's CDSS Lifetime  Contribution Award, to Glen and Judi Morningstar, was loads of fun. Over 200 people attended the potluck and evening celebration last month in Lansing, MI. Here are two videos shot by John Newsome. More of John's videos and Don Cardwell's photos will be posted on our website soon.


An interview with Glen and Judi is in our Fall newsletter.

Group Membership Challenge
Group Affiliates, you should have received the Group Affiliate Resources Handbook, membership brochures and more.  Those of you directly involved in organizing dance and song activities are aware of why it's important to support the national organization, but many of your local participants may not be, and we hope you will encourage them to join.

To encourage you, and as a thanks for all you're doing to support dance, music and song in your region, we're offering some incentives!

To get credit for encouraging someone to join, it's important that you remind folks to indicate "I was encouraged to join by..." with their membership payment. Questions? Please don't hesitate to let Christine know:


Happy Birthday to Us
The Country Dance and Song Society will be 100 years old in 2015. Our Centennial celebration goals are to:
  • raise the visibility of traditional dance, music and song;
  • reach and connect people in and outside our community who were not connected before;
  • and affirm that our participatory arts can change lives.
We hope you'll join us. Plans will be announced as they're confirmed; see below for one of them.


CDSS Tour - Coming to a Town Near You?
You may remember us telling you last time about the CDSS Tour, a special project we're planning for our Centennial. Inspired by our residential summer camps, with its triple emphasis on learning, fun and community, we think of the Tour as "Camp on the Road." Some of the best teachers and performers around will be visiting several communities for a stay of up to 10 days, offering workshops, master classes and special events.

In October we reviewed 37 applications, and we're pleased to announce the 7 groups who have been chosen to be our local partners for the Tour. Staff and schedule information will be announced next year. Thank you to everyone who applied - we wish we could visit you all!

United States
ARIZONA - Tucson Friends of Traditional Music* (Tucson)
KANSAS - Lawrence Barn Dance Association* (Lawrence)
OREGON - South Coast Folk Society (Coos Bay)
TEXAS - Traditional Austin Area Dance Association  (Austin)
WEST VIRGINIA - Morgantown Friends of Old Time Music and Dance  (Morgantown)

NOVA SCOTIA - Metro Square and Round Dance Association (Halifax)
ONTARIO - Fiddlefern Country Dancers (Owen Sound)

Two alternate groups were chosen if one of the above has to drop out; they are Bellingham Country Dance Society (WA) and Village Green English Country Dancers (Winnipeg, MB).

* Tucson and Lawrence will be partnering with their regional groups.

See more about the Centennial and the Tour.


We're in a celebratory mood these days as we move closer to our Centennial and we'd like to recognize others who have important dance, music and song anniversaries coming up. Do you know someone who is celebrating a milestone? Please share the news with us; email to

For instance, the Vissenbjerg Country Dancers in Denmark recently celebrated their 25th anniversary, as did callers P.E Christiansen and Inge Aakilde. Congratulations!

Director's Report: Connecting the Dots
with Tools and Support
I came home one night to find my daughter playing her  ukulele and shouting out "Guess what, Mom, I'm doing my reading homework!" "Okay...," I said hesitantly. My daughter went on to explain that out of her classroom's lending library, the source of nightly reading homework, she found music books. These books allowed her to read folk stories with accompanying music (with chords) and lyrics. "So cool, Mom, I get to sing and play my ukulele for reading homework!"

Yes, so very cool indeed! My daughter's second grade teacher has connected the dots for my daughter.  Reading is definitely way more exciting when you can combine stories, songs and playing music. We know that using arts as tools in our classrooms enhances learning by boosting creativity, confidence and problem-solving for kids. All three were in play (pun intended) as I watched my daughter read, figure out how to play the new songs, and try to sing and strum at the same time.  So my daughter reads more, is more excited to learn in the classroom, and she feels that her teacher really gets her.

I share this story, not just as an example of how arts can be integrated into a classroom, but for the example of connecting the dots. CDSS is hoping to do that more and do it better. What do we mean? Like dropping books with music and lyrics into a lending library, we want to drop our skill-building tools into your midst to help you become better dancers, musicians, singers, callers, organizers, and leaders, and to make sure you know about them! To make YOUR learning of traditional dance, music and song more fun and more supported. And to let you know that we get you!

For instance, one place where we promote our tools of skill-building and support is through our 9 CDSS summer camp weeks. The experience and connections gained through these weeks is invaluable.

And do you know that we have matching scholarships for CDSS group affiliates? We match up to half the expenses of coming to camp if an affiliate offers a scholarship to one of their members. This kind of support has helped 125 callers, organizers and musicians attend one of our camp programs since we began matching scholarships in 1998. It's a great way to get up-and-coming talent to camp to have that experience and make those connections, and we love partnering with our affiliates in this way. Details are available here.

We also have other scholarship opportunities that help those who might not otherwise be able to make the investment for skill-building at camp. Check out that scholarship information here.

Have you seen the refreshed CDSS website? Our goal is to make it easier to find tools and resources. From our homepage you can now easily go to Resources to find information on CDSS publications, online library, how-to guides, and support and outreach funding.

Finally, we'll be "dropping" our tools and skill-building opportunities along the road during the CDSS Centennial Tour in 2015 (see above). See you there.

Happy dancing, singing and playing! Thanks for a great 2013!

Warmly, Rima

Cracking Chestnuts Videos
In March 2004 a group of 22 callers met in Syracuse, NY, for a day of dance and discussion about classic contra dances. This workshop inspired the "Cracking Chestnuts" column in the CDSS News (2004-2007), authored by Syracuse caller David Smukler, with occasional history-related columns by David Millstone. In 2008, CDSS published Cracking Chestnuts: The Living Tradition of Classic American Contra Dances, a book based on the series, describing 17 dances in detail, and arguing for an inclusive approach to contra dancing, one which embraces the newer and older dances alike.

Meanwhile, David Millstone has been collecting video of chestnuts for years (see Square Dance History Project), and he and David Smukler agreed that video of the dances in the book, plus the 20 in its appendix, would be a valuable learning tool for callers, and an important historical collection.

In March 2014 the Syracuse Country Dancers held another Callers' Gathering focused on chestnuts, and used the occasion to collect footage of additional dances. After months of editing, videos of all the dances (including multiple versions of some dances) in the book are on our website.

Click on the name of the dance in the Table of Contents and you will be directed to the YouTube video. Metadata includes tune, where and when the video was created, caller, musicians and notes.

The book, Cracking Chestnuts, is available from the CDSS Store.

Thanks to Mary Wesley, David Millstone, David Smukler, Lynn Nichols, the musicians, the videographers, and all the dancers who appear in the videos, happily dancing "chestnuts," the classic contra dances of New England.

From our Facebook page: "What a terrific resource! Thank you!!"


CDSS Outreach Update
In October 2013, a total of $3,200 from CDSS Outreach Funds was offered to support these projects and events:
  • Eleanor Roosevelt Community Dance-starter dances to inspire young people and families to dance (CA)
  • Dare to Be Square Tennessee-intensive weekend for training southern square dance callers (TN)
  • Coaching Grant-training sessions for Dragonfly, a newly-formed teen contra band (MA/VT)
  • Freedom Middle School Outreach-contra dance instruction for over 600 middle school students in  conjunction with a dance weekend (FL)
  • Travel Grant-to help a budding caller from Kentucky attend Youth Dance Weekend (VT)
  • Wild Rose Garland Legacy Project-publish booklet/CD of dances collected by the garland team; to be offered in CDSS store (OR)
  • Second Sunday Square Dance-traditional square dance series to build a community of young dancers (MA)
  • Free Contra Dance for Beginners-free admission contra event geared towards beginners, paired with experienced dancers; cosponsored by CDSS and Country Dance New York (NY)
  • Contra Dance at the University of Florida-on-campus dance to build interest in contra dancing among students and the wider community (FL)
  • Youth Traditional Song Weekend-youth-focused (not youth-exclusive) weekend of participatory traditional singing including leadership training (MA)
If you have ideas about events or projects to support your music, dance and/or song community, CDSS can help. Contact Linda Henry, 413-203-5467 x 105. The 2014 grant deadlines are February 1, June 1 and October 1. Apply here. None of these grants would be possible without the generous support of our members and donors. Thank you.

CDSS Outreach Funds at work...helping others make things happen. 


Upcoming in the CDSS News

The paper edition of the CDSS News (Winter 2013-2014 i  ssue) will be arriving in members' mailboxes shortly; the online PDF version is now posted, along with several web extras. Individual articles include Connecting the Dots (Director's Report), by Rima Dael (or read it above);  On Open Stages, by Luke Donforth; Cascade Promenade, by Gordy Euler; Finding My Tribe and Bringing It Home, by Janice Ferri; The Way It Is Is the Reason I Started Doing This Stuff in the First Place, by Peter Siegel;  Yoga for Dancers-Thumbs, Wrists, Shoulders and a Postural Epidemic, by Anna Rain; a contra dance, The Boys of Urbana, by John Coffman; and Jesse P. Karlsberg looks at the Sacred Harp song, "The Last Words of Copernicus," plus there are the  Letters and Announcements and a couple new items from the CDSS Store. Obituaries for Bertha Hatvary, Allan Block and Stefan Werba will be posted later this month.


Next deadline for articles, letters, etc. is February 1. To place an ad in the paper version, see the guidelines on our website.


Cover photo: Fergus, ON Contra Dance (by Kris Corley)


Recent CDSS Blogs
The Need for Teacher Support, by Nils Fredland;  


Engaging Families in Dance, by Pat MacPherson;  All in Good Time, by Chloe Levine;  Legislative Testimony, by Rima Dael; and Memories to Last a Lifetime, by Lily Kruskal Leahy.


 2014 Camp Dates

For details on the weeks, see our website; registration begins January 1.

Early Music Week, June 26-July 3
Family Week, July 19-26
Harmony of Song & Dance, July 26-August 2
English Dance Week, August 2-9
American Dance & Music Week, August 9-16
Campers' Week, August 16-23
English & American Dance Week, August 23-30

Family Week, August 2-9 (dance to be confirmed)

Adult & Family Week, August 10-August 17   

Shop At the CDSS Store

It's the holiday shopping season, no matter what day of the week it is or what color it's called! We have lots of wonderful books, recordings, DVDs, t-shirts, bags, water bottles and more at our store. Drop by during business hours through December 23 (Monday-Friday, 9-5) or shop online for excellent gifts for your friends or yourself. Or drop in after the holidays. (The guaranteed delivery-by-Christmas-shipping day is December 17.)

Stay in Touch Online

Upcoming Events - lots of special events throughout the country.

Facebook - news about the organization, other organizations, whatever comes into our heads.

E-news - This one, and previous issues, are online.

Email or Members Directory - Joining our email list (for all) or online Members Directory (members only) is simple. You can log in here - or look for "Log in" just under the top photo on our homepage.



Support a great organization! CDSS membership makes a great gift for students, young families, new dancers, the musicians or organizers in your community...or yourself. Read more about membership in our beautiful brochure.

Contributors to this issue include: Caroline Batson, David Chandler, Christine Dadmun, Rima Dael, Nils Fredland, Robin Hayden, Linda Henry, Steve Howe, Lynn Nichols and Pat MacPherson.