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NGI Recipient: Kyra Bleicher

Session Attended: Country Dance and Song Society - Harmony of Song and Dance (2016)

Thank you so much to the New Generation Initiative program for granting me the scholarship that made it possible for me to participate in the CDSS Harmony of Song and Dance Week.

I had a wonderful first experience at Pinewoods, and immediately felt welcomed by friendly participants.  Each of the instructors was outstanding and glowing.  Each seemed so passionate about what they were sharing at camp, and each fostered love for song or dance.

Some of my favorite moments were during Emily Miller’s country-western harmony singing class.  I appreciated her skillful instruction, and enjoyed watching people play with duet singing in such an encouraging space, as they blended their unique voices.  I was also so grateful for Rani Arbo’s harmony singing class.  I especially loved when campers divided into small groups to experiment with creative harmonies and arrangements for songs of their choice, and received subsequent coaching from Rani and other campers.  I also enjoyed collaborating with a group of other young musicians during a contra dance.  We had fun with one song in particular – a mash-up of a pop song with two fiddle-tunes.  The evening performances by staff and campers were always lighthearted and playful; I found myself especially enthralled and inspired by original songs and tunes, as well as by the positive, driving energy that exuded from musicians.  In writing this, I realize there may be too many highlights to name.

I was glad for the challenge of the more advanced contras and English dances throughout the week.  During the morning contras, I learned from Lisa Greenleaf’s wisdom about technique, communication, and safety during the dances.  I also learned by observing many skilled dancers that surrounded me who seemed so joyous, effortless, and graceful on the floor.  Throughout the week, I felt that I gained a greater awareness during contra dances, which I hope I can continue to develop.

I left camp with a large collection to new tunes and songs.  I have already shared multiple harmony songs with my family, and fiddle tunes from Pascal Gemme with traditional musicians at Maine Fiddle Camp.  I hope to bring more of the inspiration and knowledge I gained at this CDSS program at Pinewoods to music and dance communities of which I am a part.

I may not have been able to attend Pinewoods without the NGI scholarship, especially given my current work to pay for college fees.  I am very grateful for the scholarship, and more broadly, I am thankful for the support of the NGI in supporting so many young musicians in attending Pinewoods.  I had such a fantastic time in an exquisite place, uniting with others through song and dance.  I loved the week, and I hope to return.