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NGI Recipient: Michelle Fulton

Session Attended: Country Dance and Song Society - Harmony of Song and Dance (2013)

Dear Pinewoods NGI Committee and CDSS,

Thank you for offering me the scholarship that allowed me to participate in Harmony of Song and Dance at Pinewoods. However, what I gained was more than a monetary amount — it was an experience that will last me a lifetime. I must say that this program was one that will always be close to my heart.

There were several reasons why I chose this program, but the main reason was that I could never resist the temptation of forging a connection between my training in operatic and classical music and that of folk music and dance. Being a music major at the University of Kentucky, I’ve carried music with me throughout all aspects of my life, and participating in this program not only allowed me to expand my horizons with music, but also combine it with my second greatest passion: dancing. I had started contra dancing just over a year ago, and since then have never stopped. In going to Harmony of Song and Dance, I’ve been able to meet new dancers from all over the country and learn new dances like Schottische, various English dances, new contras, and blues dancing.

Musically, I’ve been able to experience various genres and learn other music notation such as shape note. Another highlight was that I really enjoyed learning from the staff, and learning how other musicians not only train, but how they teach other people music. Things I often consider are how I might be able to pass on what I learned in both dancing and singing to others in my community. Being a college student, I am able to connect with various communities, whether they are at college, my hometown, or anywhere else I happen to travel. After spending the week at Pinewoods, I have learned more than I ever anticipated, and am continually sharing everything that I can.

Finally, one of my greatest highlights of the week was the camper night. Although the week would be nothing without the amazing staff, camper night was something in which I could connect with everyone equally, from dancing to the camper band, to watching and performing in the cabaret night. It was a wonderful thing to see that everyone involved put so much excitement, energy, and soul into the camp. The entire community made me feel welcome and at home. I’ve never experienced anything quite like the folk dancing community, and I am so glad that I have finally found my place. Thank you again for providing me with this wonderful experience!